Ontario-based operation Game Cycle has traveled west, as far west as it can, to give sailors and Esquimalt residents an outlet to buy, sell and trade videogames and movies. This store has been in operation for over a year now, and it’s an independent extension of the Ontario run business. And according to regional manager Justin Hembree, the traffic from the local community has been good.
“We get a lot of regulars through, a lot of locals,” says Hembree, “and the military comes in.”
When this store is located off Esquimalt road, to find the sign is hard not to miss and it helps fill a niche missing since the mid 90’s, when the independent videogame business was a boon. But when the larger operations came in and the times changed, so has the model for distribution.
According to Hembree, because the Blockbusters, Rogers and all those bigger operations are now gone, there’s room for the little guy to reemerge. “Although we’re heading into a digital age, I’ve always seen people that love hard copies. There’s something nostalgic about it all,” says Justin.
Although this business has the makings to be a franchise, it’s still family run. One of the reasons Hembree started this shop is to be that free spirit. He has a niece who lives in Victoria that he regularly visited in the past seven years, and subsequently, he found that he enjoys living in this city.
He’s had life in other cities, but there’s a definite charm to Victoria that he loves; it’s been his second home and he’s settled in fine. “I had an offer to go back to do stuff in Ontario, but I’m just too …” paused Hembee, “Well, I know the feeling if I go [back], I’ll regret it.”
“Aside from family being here, I thought we’d try running an operation out here.” says Justin, “If I could, I like to get this store so jam packed so that everything you would want to get would be in here. And if it works, it works.”