Posted on June 9, 2007 - - Filed Under | 2 Comments
Gator Byte Computers & Entertainment. Formerly known as Lakeview Clearance Center. Same owner, same service, same products; new name.
When first opened, Lakeview was as the name implied, a clearance center. Originally started by myself (Chris Killam) and a partner (Richard Bjornson). We would buy pallets of store returned goods, fix & clean them up and sell them on weekends from his driveway yard sale. After a couple of months we had too much stuff for just a yard sale and decided it was time to open a store. Lakeview Clearance Center was officially opened on August 20, 1999. In no time at all we had filled up the 1200 sq. feet of store space which looked like this:
October, 1999 – Port Maitland
Unfortunately, this store was located in Port Maitland, about 15 minutes from town. And as the months went by, things kept getting slower and slower. December, which should have been our busiest month, was our slowest, due to the fact that people were in town shopping, and not driving all the way out to Port Maitland. So, after just 4 months, it was time to move on. After a few weeks of searching around, in January we settled on a location in downtown Yarmouth. The rent was double what we were currently paying but we felt it was justified due to the better location, and it was 4,000 sq. feet, huge compared to where we were. Which of course had a bit of a downside because even after being here for over 3 months, it looked so empty!
April, 2000 – 6B Central Street
During this time we were continuing to purchase pallets of returned goods, and that was doing pretty well for us. Mostly small appliances and the occassional electronics pallet. After a couple more months and a lot more buying, the store was getting to be a lot fuller looking. During June, a situation arose that needed to be settled, and ended with me buying out my partners share of the business, official as of July 1, 2000. Things were continuing to do well and after getting some better shelving in place, the store was looking better all the time.
July, 2000 – 6B Central Street
Things went smoothly through the summer, with small changes being made here and there. We were already getting into movies a little bit, with a few hundred for rent & sale. Later in the fall I heard that ATR Video was going out of business and the entire inventory was up for sale so after talking to the owner and settling on a buy-out deal, I got a loan of $15,000 from the YRBC, very helpful people when it comes to small business startup and/or expansion loans. The banks wouldn’t even consider me for a loan since I had only been in business for barely 1 year at that time.By November of 2000 Lakeview was officially a video rental store with a huge selection of older movies for just .99 a night. Shortly thereafter I started buying new release DVD’s as well, to rent for $1.99 a night, and video games for $2.50. By May 2001 we had a great selection at the cheapest prices in town and the store had a whole new look to it.
May, 2001 – 6B Central Street
March, 2001 – Has become known as the Year of the Crazy Chinese Woman. All the way from Singapore (not China!) is the bosses wife.
The Bosses Wife
Since I’ve been working with computers for the last 8 years or so, it was a natural evolution that Lakeview started dealing in computers. New systems, upgrades, repairs, accessories, and a large selection of slightly older games at very low prices. I started to phase away from the pallets of goods that had been the start of the business simply because it’s always a risk whenever you order a load of things. You never know how much of it is going to be in good working order, or how much is going to be completely useless and good for a few spare parts, if that. The last couple of electronics pallets I ever bought were a complete disappointment. Lost money on both of them, over a thousand each time, so that was enough of that, I decided it was better to pay more for new items that come fresh with warantees.During the summer of 2002 we underwent some major renovations which included building real walls for the back of the store, turning about 1,000 sq. feet into a stock room and an office. Up to this point we simply had shelving up across the back as a divider with curtains for a doorway. The biggest and most noticible change however was the removal of the garage door which served as our main entrance, and the building of a regular looking entrance with a set of double glass doors. Along with the renovations we did some serious re-arranging of the entire store in an attempt to maximize the available space.
November, 2002 – 6B Central Street
Even though we had greatly changed the appearance of the store, and the product being sold, it still felt as if something was holding us back. That something was the Clearance Center name. It seemed that people still had the opinion that since the name was Lakeview Clearance Center, that everything was used, or pallet items, or god knows what. I had people bring something up to the counter, brand new in a sealed box with a price tag of $50 (for example) and offer me a straight $25, cash. Irritating, to say the least. Do these people really think we’re making such a high profit on everything that we could afford to sell something for half price AND eat the taxes in the process?It was time for a new name. Which may not sound so difficult, but just getting a name is a chore in itself. It needs to be an original name that isn’t being used by anyone else. It also has to describe what the business is/does. And on top of that, it needs to have a distinctive element, something that people will remember. My first and obvious choice was to change to Lakeview Computers & Entertainment, since the distinctive part (Lakeview) is how most people remember us. But, since there’s another store in Bridgewater called Lakeview Compusales & Salvage, I couldn’t have that one. So I came up with Gator Byte Computers & Entertainment; catchy, descriptive, distinctive, and not in use. It also allowed us to keep an association with the store mascot, Lakeview Larry, a plastic alligator that has been around since we opened.
September, 2003 – 6B Central Street
Starting in late summer of 2003, we have started bringing in new Home Electronics such as TV’s, Speakers, DVD players, etc. Bringing in these new items required rearranging about 1/3 of the store, although it’s hard to tell from this picture. Check out the Electronics page for a slightly better picture of that area. Our current plan is to phase out the used electronics and stick mainly with new items which for the most part carry a 1 year warranty.
Pretty Self Explanatory
Chloe Samantha Yee Killam was born December 19, 2003
A Future Employee is Born!
Fast forward a couple years and it’s now October 2005. We’re moving up to main street in order to boost traffic and visibility. It’s a smaller building but I think it’ll do just fine. We’ll be continuing with our movie & game rentals and sales, computer sales & service and whatever else we can squeeze in.
308 Main Street – Gator Byte new location
There was plenty of space in this location but itwas so hard to keep warm in the winter, customers were complaining about how cold the store was and so were the employees. They’d crank the thermostat way up and burning through a couple hundred bucks worth of oil in a week sometimes.
2006 saw us winning the Best Decorated Window for Seafest, but during this year business for the store was the worst we’d had. By the end of 2006 we decided to stop putting so much effort into decorating.
2007 got even worse so by the end of the year we were looking to move again just to save some money on rent & heating bills. Computers Are Us got shut down by Microsoft (as the rumor goes) so their location became available. It was $400 less a month and cost half as much to heat. It was also a lot smaller, but we’ve managed to cram in the stuff we need.
We stayed at 308 Main for 2 yrs but due to how hard it was to heat the store and also because of Feng Shui reasons we moved. We have been at 298 Main Street for 2.5 yrs now and and are coming up on our 11th anniversary this month!
This is our 298 Main Street location and we’ve been here for 8 years, the store is kept warm (cheaply) during the winter and things have improved tremendously. We have a group of loyal customers who support us and we have eliminated most of the bad ones from our rental list. Overall, we feel that after moving to this location things have turned around for us, we are on top of everything now and we thank you for your continued support. Our store now does mainly game/movie rentals & sales, computer system sales & service and several electronic products. Oh by the way… WE ARE NOT A PAWN SHOP!!! We buy, sell and trade games, game systems and movies only. Not jewelery. There you have it.
Now that Movie Gallery has closed and 10 to 10 Video stopped renting years ago, Gator Byte is really the only place in town to rent movies and games now. We had stopped renting games for a while due to too many people ripping us off, but we felt like it was right to make the good customers suffer for it. Now games are for rent again but any game priced over $24.98 requires a refundable deposit. Long time customers with a good rental history aren’t required to leave a deposit though.
Well, 2016 June and after many years of searching and trying to buy our own building , we finally relented and rented a bigger one from the same landlord , just a few doors away (316 Main Street) . Directly opposite CIBC and next to Hands on Craft as our neighbor, if you walk pass Tim Hortons , you’ve gone too far. It is a bit bigger although it looks a lot bigger than our old store but it is only because the layout if different. With this new store, we hope to be able to branch out and do more things for the community like the gaming tables for Pokemon , Dungeons and Dragons and Magic of course. Teenagers, young adults and adults can come into the store to play these card games as well as board games that we are looking forward to bringing into the store.
Our main aim for having a bigger store , is to be able to give back to the town and especially its children by encouraging them to come into the store and play cards and board games in a clean, healthy and safe environment. With the help of our landlord , Trask Rental and Mike McPherson , this time our move has been very successful , we cannot thank Trask people enough .