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What does it take to open a paintball store and/or field? – Part Two 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 or field? If you have already starting 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 the best decision for you. When creating your business plan, here are some things to think about beforehand.

This is the second half of a two-part topic, as the topic of opening a field or store can be a lengthy one. The second half we will discuss: Trustworthy Relationships, Setting Yourself Apart, Competition Preparation, and Economic Viability.

Trustworthy Relationships

When looking into proximity of the store to the nearest paintball field, be sure to be careful with whom you are partnering with. Nationally known paintball team owner, Team Absolute Chaos, Amy Webb, said, “I opened a private field with an individual that owned some land who took care of the initial funding. The land owner didn’t hold up his end and I was forced to close it, never fully recouped my investment. The customer base was there to turn it into a public field, but the lack of trust and respect for each other killed it.”

An example of a partnership that worked is in Georgia. Adrenalin Paintball’s Pam and Barry Yuill have 20 plus years of player experience, and said, “We knew we could bring not only great paintball equipment, but experience needed to help those who wanted to get into the sport. We found that there really wasn’t anyone in our area that had the knowledge to repair markers and when we first opened in 2005, we were flooded with many repair needs.” They went on to share how they moved from a shopping center to partnering with a nearby paintball field and shared, “We decided to build and run Big Indian Paintball, considered to be one of the premier fields in middle Georgia. Dwayne Wagner asked us if we wanted to move our store to his location while keeping our store name. We’ve been here for 5 years now and have build a much stronger player base because of our collaboration.”

Set Yourself Apart

In the case that there are many other paintball stores close to the field you’re thinking of opening up near, come up with ways that your paintball business sets itself apart. Maybe consider selling other products that translate to something similar to paintball like another outdoor activity? A paintball enthusiast out of Seth Manchester explained, “Maybe some airsoft stuff that paintball players can use like similar apparel that can be worn both in paintball and airsoft, too.” Perhaps having other products that cater to hunters, fisherman, and other outdoor activities can be sold within the store, too? Be sure that if you do consider another market, you know just as much about that activity as you do paintball.

“I came in to it wanting a huge store, with fully stocked walls - the works,” Foxhole Paintball & Airsoft’s Bethany Faye of Grandview, Kansas, continued, “However, 5 months in, I looked at my sales and profit margins and decided to scale back my shop and only carry the basics.” She went on to say that masks, jerseys, a few markers are what she has on hand and said, “Most people are willing to wait a week to get the exact marker they want so I'll order it in for them. As paintball continues to grow in Kansas as it is now, then we will start bulking up the store again.”

Competition Preparation

“Be ready to compete with online paintball stores who carry every color option in stock. They can probably ship it faster to the customer before you can order it from the supplier who then has to get it to you,” said Mike Pawlak of Ontario, Canada. Pawlak makes a good point – when you have the fact that other online paintball stores exist and can offer a product perhaps at a less expensive price with faster shipping, too, add more value to the storefront experience. Added value like providing an in-store gun technician that can repair products for free without having to ship it back to the online store it was purchased from, for example. You can go further and even consider not only being a storefront, but also an online paintball store, too, that can ship to other parts of the country or even internationally. But, you have to ensure that what you have as both a storefront and online store means you have better customer service and quick assistance for the customer indefinitely.

Economic Viability

Know how to be organized in how you financially run your business. Texan Paintball Owner and Player, Keith Kaminski said, “Ensure you have economic viability; I love this game and I want to grow the sport. I want to give teens a place to hang out and do productive things that keep them out of trouble. None of those can happen if you lose money and have to shut down. Maybe that means, you can't have a new airball field this year, or can't add new props to the field. You have to control your spending to match your earnings and not try to be "the biggest and best" all the time. It's easy to dig yourself in a hole and when that happens, you can't grow anything if you have to close your doors.‬” Manage your finances carefully and know what you’re able to afford based on how hard you work to market your business. Hard work pays off, and when done diligently and consistently, you’ll be able to support your passion.

Location, Demographic, Passion for Paintball, Proper Staff, Trustworthy Relationships, Setting Yourself Apart, Competition Preparation, and Economic Viability - Hopefully some of these important factors in deciding to open a paintball store and/or field will help you make an informed decision on what it takes to succeed.

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