During these trying times we’ve all come to rely, more than ever, on the essential services that keep us fed and healthy. Supermarkets. Pharmacies. Laundromats. …GameStop?
If you’re hearing a chorus of “One of these things is not like the others…” right now, you’re not alone. Employees and customers alike have been confounded by GameStop’s stubborn refusal to close even amidst the escalating COVID-19 crisis and the shuttering of virtually all retail stores outside of groceries and pharmacies and stores that offer similar product. Video game site Kotaku has done excellent reporting on this subject, from fears that corporate wasn’t doing enough to safeguard in the early days of the outbreak, to the doublespeak insistence that by providing equipment for remote work and learning, GameStop can be considered “essential” and not mandated to close– never mind that their high-end keyboards and accessories are hardly what someone would pick up for basic needs, or that midnight launch parties for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal were ill-advised in light of restrictions on large gatherings. Employees were even provided with a letter to show law authorities in case they tried to enforce closure; in Athens, Georgia, police officers countered that letter with one of their own, which did not include the store on its list of essential businesses. A popular reddit thread started by an employee shed further light on the company’s misguided and potentially dangerous approach to the pandemic.
This past weekend, GameStop finally switched to a door delivery model and closed stores to customers—those that remain open or have not been forced to close by local ordinances—and officially discontinued video game trade-ins and in-store events. Calls to a number of NYC area GameStop locations on Tuesday were either not answered, busy, or resulted in a perky message explaining that some stores have been closed in response to COVID-19 concerns. This is clearly the right move, but as the reddit poster observed, it should not have taken this long for the company to do so. When we come out of this pandemic, and begin to shop at retail stores, we should think carefully about where our dollars go. GameStop failed both its employees and the buying public by disregarding their safety in a serious situation, and I, for one, will not be supporting them in the future.