In 1999 a brilliant company was formed; ThinkGeek. An online retailer that sold products catered toward the geek culture. I have more merchandise than I can recall from ThinkGeek. I’ve been a loyal patron for many years. In 2015 we were shocked to discover that ThinkGeek had been sold. For a mere $140 million ThinkGeek became the property of GameStop. Initially I was skeptical about it, and I still am (more on that later). Then, just a few months ago, the unthinkable happened.
So Long Timmy, and Thanks for All the Fish
In June of this year GameStop announced they would be shutting down the ThinkGeek online store, permanently. It was a sad day, indeed. The upside to this news is that there will still be an online ThinkGeek location, it’s just become a section of the GameStop website. I have quickly perused the new ThinkGeek section of the website and, overall, there seems to be a lot of familiar merchandise. It’s somewhat refreshing.
The bigger picture, however, is the fact that GameStop’s earnings are down. Perhaps the acquisition of ThinkGeek is supposed to help bolster their bottom line. If that does not succeed then they are going to be in some financial trouble. GameStop already has a reputation for their “pennies on the dollar” trade in program. Most people take their games there if they are desperate to get rid of them, with the knowledge that they won’t get a lot of return on their investment. If GameStop fails, then ThinkGeek goes down with the [mother]ship.
It’s A Niche Market
My biggest lamentation of losing ThinkGeek is its unique merchandise. There are very few, if any, competitors out there that sell similar merchandise. Jinx and Blizzard’s Battle.net store come close but they don’t have the diversity of products ThinkGeek had. They were selling to a very specific sub-culture and, while niche markets are typically a seller’s unicorn, clearly they were still not moving product fast enough. A union with GameStop makes sense, from that perspective, because it exposes the products to a much larger audience.
So the greatest travesty would be if GameStop goes under next. ThinkGeek, and all its fantastic products, will be gone. I have not found another retailer that sells products similar in nature to the things I was buying from ThinkGeek. I honestly hope another retailer emerges or, if anyone knows one that already exists, please leave a comment. Until then I guess I will be a more frequent GameStop customer.
“When I was a kid, it was a huge insult to be a geek. Now it’s a point of pride in a weird way.” – J.J. Abrams