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Geekster: From Side Hustle to Mainstage

Discover the thrilling journey of Geekster, born as a 2020 side hustle and now a full-time venture in 2024. Founder Chia Liang (CL) takes you on a captivating ride, where a love for tabletop gaming transforms into a vibrant community, seamlessly bridging the realms of passion and success.



Q: Please give the readers a short introduction about yourself and your company. What is your role? What is your company about? What is your “origin” story?


Hello, I'm Chia Liang (CL), the founder of Geekster. Geekster is not just a board game store; it's a vibrant community that seamlessly blends the world of tabletop gaming with a robust online presence.

Geekster had humble beginnings as a side hustle back in 2020, a passion project that gradually evolved into a thriving venture over the years. Juggling the business alongside other commitments, 2023 marked a turning point. The overwhelming response from our community made it clear – Geekster had the potential to be more than just a sideline endeavor.


In 2024, I decided to take the plunge and transition Geekster into a full-time commitment. This marked a significant milestone, allowing me to dedicate undivided attention to the store's growth and the community it serves. My journey from a side hustle to a full-time endeavor has been nothing short of exhilarating, and I'm eager to continue building the Geekster community both online and offline. Thank you for being part of our story and supporting Geekster on this exciting journey!



Q: What made you decide to open the board game store in the midst of a pandemic? What challenges did you face?


Geekster's launch during the pandemic wasn't a deliberate choice but rather a fortuitous alignment of circumstances. Opting for a small unit in an industrial building, I initiated a trial run, anticipating the potential of board games on the market. This foresight proved invaluable, as everything fell into place just before the May 2020 lockdown. Positioned at the onset of the surge in board game demand, Geekster seamlessly filled a crucial gap in the market.


In spite of the absence of initial marketing investments, success was not hindered. Geekster entered an organic growth phase thanks to word-of-mouth. The challenge in 2020 revolved around navigating high shipping costs and coping with slow fulfillment due to diverse restrictions across countries. Despite these hurdles, the board game industry was experiencing an upswing, and Geekster capitalized on this momentum. With an expanding customer base and increased exposure to board games, 2020 marked a promising start for Geekster.



Q: What differentiates you from the other board game stores? Any interesting services, products or customer stories you would like to share?


Our commitment to excellence sets us apart from the competition in the online board game market. Rather than engaging in price wars, we believe in adding value through exceptional service. A point of pride for us is our meticulous packaging method—every parcel is carefully encased with corner protectors and bubble wrap, ensuring that our customers receive their games in pristine condition.


What makes Geekster truly stand out is our dedication to swift order fulfillment. As we understand how exciting it is to dive into a new game, we prioritize fast shipping so customers can get their parcels as soon as possible. This will enable them to start playing and enjoying their new games immediately.


In the spirit of personal connection, each order from Geekster comes with a special touch. A handwritten thank-you note accompanies every purchase, expressing our genuine appreciation for your support. It's a small gesture that reflects the heart of our one-man show operation—where Geekster means not just a store but the personal touch and commitment of yours truly, CL. Geekster's service is the perfect blend of speed, sincerity, and speed.



Q: What is the biggest challenge you face while starting up or operating a board game store? What are you doing to overcome them?


While the early stages of Geekster's development during the pandemic provided a unique set of opportunities, a new obstacle surfaced as things returned to normal. The increase in board game sales during lockdowns showed a greater demand for amusement, but as normalcy returned, the pace of board game buying reduced. The true difficulty was to grow the board player group beyond the initial pandemic-induced boom.


Recognizing this, Geekster took a proactive approach to the situation in 2023 by forming strategic alliances. We started weekly Meetup Board Game sessions at Campur, Djitsun Mall Bedok in collaboration with #LaiPlayLeow. Geekster also participated as an event partner in well-known board game conventions such as PlayPlayFair 2023 and Asia Board Game Festival 2023.


These efforts were created not only to engage existing board gamers, but also to bring board gaming to a wider audience. Geekster intends to tackle the problem of sustaining and extending the board gamer pool by developing a lively gaming community and participating in key industry events, assuring the company's continuing growth and success.



Q: What do you think, are the gaming trends and tastes of Singaporean gamers gravitating towards?


The board gaming community in Singapore is primarily made up of casual gamers who enjoy party or dexterity games. However, an intriguing trend is occurring in which some casual gamers are gradually expanding their horizons beyond party games and stepping into the domain of light and medium strategy games.


Geekster's game selection is deliberately chosen to reflect the evolving gaming landscape. We specialize on titles that require analytical thought and strategic decision-making for individuals seeking more depth and engagement in their experience.


As these gamers transition from casual to strategy gaming, they frequently rely on evaluations from prominent YouTubers to help them make informed purchasing decisions. Geekster's objective is to provide a diligently curated collection that connects with Singaporean gamers' shifting preferences, providing a bridge to the rich and exciting world of strategy games.


Q: With tabletop games becoming popular around the world, there are more and more games being published every year. How do you select games from the thousands of new games that are being launched each year? Do you play all these games before deciding to bring them in?


My time for prolonged gameplay and study is limited as the single proprietor of Geekster. As a result, choosing games from the huge assortment published each year necessitates a careful balance of dependence on trustworthy sources and client input. Renowned YouTubers play a vital part in guiding decision-making by presenting insightful reviews.


Additionally, the invaluable input from our customers plays a pivotal role in shaping our inventory. By staying attuned to the preferences and interests of our community, we gain a nuanced understanding of what titles are gaining traction. However, it is critical to recognize that releasing a new game is always a risk. Relying solely on hype may not guarantee success, especially considering the diverse tastes within the gaming community. A prime example is the cultural nuances affecting preferences—themes like Cowboys, popular in the West, may not resonate as strongly in an Asian market like Singapore.


Ultimately, Geekster's game selection process is a dynamic interplay between trusted reviews, customer feedback, and a thoughtful consideration of cultural context to curate a diverse and appealing collection.


Q: What are the future plans for store?


Geekster made the choice to close its retail presence at Eunos in March 2023, aligning with the common shift towards online shopping, in response to the changing landscape formed by the pandemic. Geekster has returned to its roots, operating from an industrial building with a renewed emphasis on internet sales. Simultaneously, the commitment to community building remains steadfast through initiatives like the Tuesday meetups and active involvement in organizing board game conventions.


Looking ahead to 2024, Geekster is poised to embrace the digital frontier. The strategic step is utilizing social digital marketing to promote not only the board game pastime but also to develop a closer relationship with the gaming community. This forward-thinking approach aligns with the evolving preferences and habits of customers, ensuring that Geekster continues to thrive in the dynamic landscape of online board game retail while maintaining a strong sense of community engagement.



Q: Where is your shop located, and do you have any promotions and events that you are planning?


Geekster is conveniently located at 621 Aljunied Road #04-01 Lipo Building S389834 (walking distance to Mattar MRT). However, our operations are currently appointment-based. Don't let the term "appointment" deter you; it simply means reaching out to us either through Shopee (preferably) or Instagram. No need for elaborate advance planning; just drop a message, and if I'm in the store, you're welcome!


We also work with #LaiPlayLeow to host engaging Meetup sessions at Campur, Djitsun Mall Bedok. To join these lively sessions, simply sign up at https://www.meetup.com/playtogather/events/ and search for the Tuesday session. Typically running from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm, these sessions require a minimum spend of S$10 at the F&B establishment. This not only supports their business but also secures the space for our vibrant board game community to gather, play, and enjoy the shared love for tabletop games. You can also spot me there most of the sessions :)


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