What does it take to open a paintball store and/or field? – Part One By Bea Paxson
Do what you love and if you love the game of paintball, then maybe it’s a good time for you to consider opening up your own paintball store and/or field? If you have already started thinking that opening a paintball business is a possibility, you probably already know that like as it would be in any business, you’ll have to put in a lot of time, effort, dedication, and the financial preparation (having enough capital) in order for it to succeed.
So before diving right into getting the business license and acquiring the land or signing a lease, you must first think carefully on why you think this would be the best decision for you. When creating your business plan, here are some things to think about beforehand. This will be a two-part blog topic, as the topic of opening a store and/or field can be a lengthy one. This first half we will discuss: Location, Demographic, Passion for Paintball, and Proper Staff.
Location, Location, Location
Starting a paintball business can be successful if you have already researched the demand for paintball in your area. Before opening a store, however, it’s important to know if there’s a legitimate paintball field situated close to the location of the field itself. Otherwise, you can find yourself sitting in an empty paintball store with no walk-in traffic.
In some cases, it’s better to open a paintball field first and have an on-field store on the premises. The other thought is to open the field first, then consider opening a paintball store in a plaza that is located close to the field or in a populated area that potential customers could drive towards.
Situating the paintball store near a high-traffic shopping area like near a popular shopping mall or even next to fitness centers would be wise. Creating that demand that caters to those individuals that focus on fitness means promoting paintball in a way that encourages people to consider paintball a form of exercise, too.
Hugh R Walls, Jr. used to own X-Caliber Paintball as the Operations Manager, he also worked at Paintball Depot and EMR Paintball with several years of experience in the business of paintball and media. Walls shared, “Skirmish is big in part due to its close proximity to two major metropolitan areas with easy access off major highways.” High traffic areas are a good idea so it’s easy for people to find and the opportunity to advertise on billboards posted close to popular roads most people commute on.
Are there any other paintball businesses in the same area you are considering? If there are too many paintball stores next to the already existent paintball field, is it necessary to open up another store close by? Make sure that there is a good demand to help support the business because if too many stores exist in the same area, it could lead to the challenge of getting enough customers to support the business.
Ian Wiley used to have a business named Ripsaw Paintball and had an issue with the city and shared, “My friends and I tried to open a field within city limits, but the city kept changing and adding things. Make sure you have a good relationships with the city and know exactly what the rules are before starting the business.”
“The bigger the cities you are surrounded by, the better, and know how many other fields and stores exist in the area. Pay close attention to the median income of area residents, too,” Matt Kelso of Bear, Delaware’s Mansion House Farm Paintball stated.
What about nearby schools? The most popular paintball participant demographic is said to be between 18-24 year olds, but what about considering today’s youth? The idea of creating a safe and fun environment for youth as young as 10-12 years old through their college years, that is something to consider. The hope is that they will always make paintball a part of their lives as a fun activity for exercise and stress relief. Paintball is something they can do with their friends and quality time spent with even their family members, too.
At Grandview Plaza, Kansas, Foxhole Paintball’s Bethany Faye, explained, “I chose to take over a field and store right between two larger towns and directly next to Fort Riley’s Army Base – we pretty much have an endless supply of people! For us, military and college students are our biggest demographic. From our experience, we see that our military customers enjoy spending a little extra money to get the whole gear set up and really look the part, but our college student customers, they don’t really have the funds.”
Passion for Paintball
Ryan Turner of Sarasota, Florida’s Acadiana Paintball Complex said, “Remember as a field owner, everyone is depending on you! He also went on to say, “You will never work so hard for others to have so much fun!” Turner makes a good point – knowing that you are working in the business of creating the “fun”, it’s important for you have to understand that others will be looking to you to see why you enjoy paintball so much. Simply by that observation alone, not only will your customers want to see your passion and enthusiasm, so will your employees.
Lavena Paintball’s Damien Parcells explained, “Just like everything else in life you want to be successful in, you have to put in the work and the commitment. With the time and commitment, plus being a people person, everything else will fall into place.” Parcells went on to say, “Also take into account the average income of the community because paintball isn’t cheap.”
Another example of someone with passion for paintball is Neil Chittendon of Midwest Custom Paintball who said, “I started our paintball business to mainly support the team I started. Once we opened the business, our customers increased and now I am supporting multiple fields in my area mostly because some of them had no idea what they were getting into when they opened their fields.” He went on to share that because some of the fields didn’t have a gun tech, a head referee, and even an instructor that could help teach new people basics of paintball, it made it difficult to see customers return. Chittendon became that “guru” that the fields he assisted needed, helping those fields to thrive. Consider adding the right staff members to fulfill those important paintball service needs.
Available and Dependable Staff
Be very careful in who you choose to work for you in your business as it is very important to find those that are as motivated as you are. Good customer service is always a bonus in any business, but most importantly, creating the idea that paintball is fun and that your employees sell that idea of fun while being respectful and polite about it goes a long way.
Brian Babin, a good customer of Pro Edge Paintball owned by John Jackson (who’s also a pro player for Team AC Dallas), proudly shared, “I feel at home and wish I could chill at their store everyday. They make me feel welcome and treat everyone equally, regardless of the customer’s paintball knowledge. I personally love the selection of all the different gear and markers they have in stock – just like being online.”
In Part Two of this blog topic discussing what it takes to open a paintball store or field, the next key factors will be: Trustworthy Relationships, Setting Yourself Apart, Competition Preparation, and Economic Viability.
>Continued in Part Two