As a kid I always loved figuring out how things worked. Since I was not a priviliged child and was never given all the newest toys and video game systems I had to be creative to get the things that I wanted. I would ask my friends for their broken systems and I would spend hours taking them apart trying to figure out how they worked. In junior high I used my new talent of repairing Nintendo Systems and turned it into a business. Rather than buying a new system my friends at school would pay me to fix their broken one!
At the age of 14 I started working for Blockbuster. By the time I turned 18 I was the youngest store manager in Blockbuster history. I tried to turn around the way Blockbuster thought about video games. I was adamant about the fact that customers should be able to play the games before they buy them. I made a point of testing and cleaning each game and system that came into my store. I learned the value of games, the most popular one that everyone was looking for and which were the hard to find titles. I did not like the ‘corporate world’ and decided working for myself was a much better idea. I quit blockbuster and got into the toy business.
Toys became my passion. I created ToyRave and got wholesale accounts with all the major toy companies and started building my inventory. My moto was “My collection is your collection”. Every morning I would go to all the major retail stores looking for the hard to find pieces. After building up my collection I attended my first Comic-Con in 1998. This was a huge personal success for me, I realized how great this business was and how well I did at it. In addition to attending Comic-Con every year thereafter I also started doing various road-shows and street fairs selling my toys. At the time my sister lived in Japan. When I would go to visit her I would buy toys and was one of the first to realize Pokemon was the next big thing. I started having my sister send me items that no-one here could find. This created a Pokemon craze and I quickly established myself as ‘The Pokemon Guy’.
In 2003 I used all the money that Pokemon made me to open a store. I started with only 8 computers and walls full of toys, action figures and Pokemon. My business has continued to expand. Over the years my toy section has shrunk to make room for video games. GameRave is the wave of the future. I strive to offer more value, service and a personal touch to a world in which ‘mom and pop shops’ are diminishing due to corporate giants. I can offer my customers things no other stores can. It is really important to me for my store to have a personal touch that you will get nowhere else. Every time customers buy games from me I give them three free hours to come in and play any game in my store. This is something that GameStop, Target nor Wal-mart can offer their customers. I pride myself on my loyal customer base and go the extra mile to ensure that every customer is satisfied.
I am thankful to all the people that have believed in me over the years and I say ‘HA!’ to all the people that have ever doubted me.
John K. O’Brien
Owner, GameRave ClubLAN