Outcast Gaming- business owners working to play their cards right
Brad Coish , co-owner of Outcast Gaming on Duckworth Street in St. John’s has taken his love of gaming and turned it into a business. — Photos by Daniel MacEachern/The Telegram
Outcast Gaming (116 Duckworth St., St. John’s) is owned by Brad Coish and Terri Taylor in a small walk-up shop above Flower Child, where they sell hobby gaming cards and figures for games like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! and also host tournaments. The local gaming community is passionate enough that some of the most expensive single Magic cards sold in the shop have run as high as $200, said Coish, and, almost counterintuitively, the more expensive a card — price is driven both by a card’s rarity as well as game power — the quicker it’s snapped up by a local enthusiasts. Coish explained to The Telegram how a teacher (Coish) and a nurse (Taylor) came to open a hobby shop.
Who opened Outcast Gaming and when?
It was me and Terri Taylor together, and that was May 3 of this year.
Tell me what Outcast Gaming does.
We sell hobby merchandise and hold events and tournaments — mostly card game tournaments, some board game events.
Why this line of business for you?
It’s something I’ve always been interested in. I’ve got an education degree, and finding work as a teacher in Newfoundland is impossible, so I had to find something to do on the side to provide income as well, so if
I was going to do something, I figured this was at least something I was interested
For anybody reading this doesn’t know what, say, Magic: The Gathering is, how would you explain it to them?
It’s a turn-based card game, with a lot of fictional creatures and mystical elements to it. A lot of strategy involved. It’s not necessarily a kid’s game, like a lot of people would associate it with. A lot more adults play than younger kids.
It can be an expensive hobby, can’t it?
It gets expensive, yeah. It’s as expensive as you want it to be, but if you want it to be at a competitive level, you have to put a lot of money into it, yeah.
Is that what drives the business?
What kind of market is there in St. John’s for (this type of shop)?
It’s a massive market, actually. People who come here from the other provinces, and the U.S., tourists that come through always are amazed at how many gaming shops and toy shops and comic shops there are in
I’m amazed by that. How are you going to differentiate yourself?
For us, it’s tournaments. We have a pretty big tournament space, and we try to keep a fairly casual atmosphere.
You’ve been open since May.
What’s business been like?
Business has been good for a new business, from what I understand. They tell you to expect losses early on, and we haven’t really seen losses. We’ve been breaking even pretty solidly, and even profiting some months, so pretty good starting out.
Is this your first business operation?
What was that like for you?
It was very difficult. We’re two fairly educated people, but we still struggled a lot with the application processes and getting permits from the city and then more permits from the city, and then once we started we realized that all of the communities of the stuff we sell, you have to be sanctioned for anyone who considers themselves competitive to want to play, and so business was slow at the beginning because we weren’t sanctioned by Magic or certain other products like Yu-Gi-Oh! There’s actually a community here that’s serious enough that they want everything to be official and through the system.
Really! So you had to get actually sanctioned by Magic?
Yes, and that took some time, too.
What does that involve, for a game like Magic? What do you have to do to get sanctioned?
First off, it’s two or three application processes. You have to provide all your business info from the government, all your tax information, stuff like that. You have to prove you’re a legitimate business and not just someone doing it on the side. After that, they put you in a beginner level, so it’s almost the same thing as not even being sanctioned. You’re just in the system. You have to have at least eight people show up several times, and 12 people show up for one event, just to reach the next level. And the next level up from that is a lot larger again. You need 40 people for something. It’s hard even to get your numbers to do that sometimes.
You mentioned the permitting process before — is St. John’s a business-friendly city? I mean, is it easy to get set up, were there a lot of hoops you had to jump through, could it be easier?
It could be a lot easier. It was pretty awful.
In what way?
One permit we had to get was an accessibility permit, which, because we’re in the downtown district, should have been pretty much they sign off on it right away, but something got messed up and it took longer than it should have. Any building that’s older than a certain year, 1987, you’re supposed to be automatically exempt.
Are the hiccups mostly over now?
Everything with the city is done, from what we understand. They were in for a final check a couple of weeks back, and everything seems fine, so that’s done. And everything with Wizards of the Coast, that’s all straightened out now too — that’s who owns Magic: The Gathering. So all the sanctioning and everything like that is all straightened out. So as far as permits and paperwork and all that, I think we’re done.
How many active players would you estimate there are in St. John’s?
The Facebook community page hit 300 this week, so that’s just the people who are on Facebook. I’m guessing there’s 500 or 600 people, probably, in St. John’s who play. And probably a hundred of those play competitively.
Has business picked up since summer started, with kids off school?
It actually went down, as far as players. Sales are up, but people showing up for tournaments went down a little bit. I kind of expect it to go back up again in September.
You said you started this because it’s impossible to get work as a teacher. Are you still looking?
I’ll be looking again in September, yeah.
What happens if you land a job?
Then, teacher, I’ll be done by 3 o’clock, we open at 2, so we might start opening at 3 or 3:30, maybe have to pick up an employee.
Who came up with the name Outcast Gaming and why?
I think I came up with that. (Taylor: You did.) I don’t know where it really came from. I was just looking around on the Internet for a name. We orginally called it Hobby Hideaway. We thought that was terrible, but we just needed a name to fill out applications, so…
You mentioned that if you wind up teaching you might take on an employee — what about other plans for the business itself? What do you see, say, five years from now for Outcast Gaming?
It’s hard to know. If we picked up business, we would probably need a bigger location,
if business really picked up. Things are
good here, though. Our landlord is really, really easy to deal with, so that was pretty much why we came here. Some other people in the city were not as sensible to talk to. Rent is really high right now. Ours is pretty good, but some of the other places were
pretty ridiculous, like three times what we’re paying here. Not many places available either.
Do you expect or hope that at some point the business becomes your career instead of teaching?
I would like it to be my side career. I don’t actually expect that this will pay better than teaching, not really. I still want to be a teacher. But I do really enjoy this. It’s a really, really good job. It’s just, I went to school for six years, and I’ve got loans.