Nerd Street Gamers and Five Below have teamed up to open esports facilities inside three of the discount retailer’s locations in Georgetown, Texas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and St. Louis, Missouri. These locations are part of a pilot program to test the operation of Nerd Street’s Localhost facilities within Five Below stores, the announcement of which came following Five Below’s participation in a $5.4M USD convertible note financing round Nerd Street raised in July.
Nerd Street Gamers VP and Chief of Staff Pete Powell told Sports Business Journal that its goal with these facilities is to create an accessible option for kids to engage in competitive gaming. He explained that, in many areas, esports is in effect a sport of privilege. Not all children, or school teams, have access to a $2K gaming computer needed for some esports titles. Powell hopes that these facilities will allow kids to grow up acclimated to not only the high-end equipment, but competitive gaming as a whole, eventually traveling to other Localhost locations for larger regional or national tournaments.
The younger demographic Five Below is able to access is also a draw for the partnership. Powell said that for most Localhost locations, the demographic tends to skew more towards the late-teens or college-age competitors. Five Below is a chain which attracts younger children with discount toys and candy.
Setting up shop in a store for young kids also gives Nerd Street access to another extremely important demographic – parents.
“Connecting with Mom and Dad is the thing we’re trying to accomplish more than anything because we’re all aware of the stigmas associated with video games,” said Powell. “A lot of parents say the last thing they want to see is when their son or daughter is in front of the TV for 10 hours playing Fortnite.”
In its initial announcement of the partnership, Nerd Street stated its desire to grow the program to more Five Below locations in the future. Powell said that part of that process will be creating a community within these pilot stores where the younger generation wants to come to compete.
“If we see a lot of younger kids that are showing up and showing interest in playing these games competitively, I think the proof’s going to be in the pudding because then that twelve-year-old is going to become a Localhost customer potentially for the rest of his or her life. We want to grow with the young gamers. We want to do a lot more than give them an opportunity to play video games. We want to give them an opportunity to compete, to make friends.”
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