(Unhappy Franchisee: Uncensored Franchise Information) Franchise ownership was not new to Jason Manning when he opened his Play N Trade video game store in Butte, MT in August, 2007. He and his mother already owned and operated a successful Express Personnel franchise.
And Manning had done his homework. He had formulated a full business plan & secured the necessary financing before opening his Play N Trade franchise.
When interviewed for a local Business Profile article in February, 2008, Jason Manning was gung ho on his business.
“I think franchises are great,” he was quoted as saying.
Unfortunately, Jason Manning’s love affair with the Play N Trade franchise was short-lived.
Play N Trade Franchise Game Goes Bad
Jason Manning recently gave this account of the meteoric rise and fall of his franchise business so others could gain the benefit of his experience.
“I am glad I closed the store! I was a long 4 years. Aug 2007 – Aug 2008 The first year was great! Sales were better than expected. I bought into 3 more stores in my state.
“Year 2 saw a downturn in the economy…I also saw 2 more CEO’s and numerous changes in corporate staff. Sales were slipping quickly.
“Year 3.. the challenges were unexpected and HUGE. Suppliers (we were and never will be direct with publishers) couldn’t get product on time, didn’t have the needed products in stock after day 1-4 release. Sometimes we would wait 2-3 weeks for replaenishment. That meant Hundreds to thousands of dollars lost to competition and a loss of credibility.
“Year 4 was dismal. sales = 1/2 that of 2007/2008. no choice but to close. Asked PNT Corp for help but an unwillingness to help was the answer and I was forced to close bankrupt.
“Corporate support was lacking at best…some of their answers included “get it at Target, call your competition and see what they have left”. Amazon became my 3rd largest supplier of video games.
“Unfortunately, I do not believe that the corporate team has the skills to do the job that they want to…industry contacts, buying power, marketing, social networking…all of these things combined are setting themselves up for disaster not success.
“For the most part, The franchisees themselves put their lives into the franchise and were duped into a system that has major and very evident flaws.
“Opening a entertainment based franchise in this type of market will surely go down in flames.
Will the Play N Trade chain survive?
In 2008, Play N Trade had more than 100 stores open, more than 400 franchises sold, and “expected” to have 1000 locations by the end of 2011.
According to Entrepreneur.com, Play N Trade peaked at 241 U.S. franchises in 2009, then fell to 174 franchise locations in 2010.
More than 70 locations went dark shortly after Jason Manning closed his Montana Play N Trade stores.
“I am glad to be disenfranchised with Play N Trade.” wrote Manning on UnhappyFranchisee.com. “I expect that PNT will see more closures in the future with less store openings. Expect less than 150 stores open by year’s end.”
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