How Gary Kusin Founded GameStop and the First Meme Stock


I remember when my kids were growing up, my youngest son Daniel visited GameStop the day it opened up near our home. He said that now since we were so close to GameStop, our home would be more valuable. I am not sure about that but certainly GameStop has had a big effect on the gaming industry and the stock market.

This week on The Small Business Radio Show, Gary Kusin, co-founded two companies, Babbage’s, operating today as GameStop (NYSE: GME), and Laura Mercier Cosmetics. He served from 2001-2006 as President and Chief Executive Officer of Kinko’s, today operating as FedEx Office. He was responsible for the turnaround, strategic growth and transformation of Kinko’s and oversaw the ultimate sale to FedEx, directly reporting to Fred Smith, founder of FedEx, for the 2 years required to integrate Kinko’s into FedEx and be renamed FedEx Office.

Gary Kusin and his co-founder, Jim McCurry, identified the burgeoning potential of video gaming and the rise of specialty store channels in the early 1980s. This foresight led to the opening of the first store dedicated to selling video games and software for personal computers in 1983, which eventually evolved into Babbage’s and later GameStop.

Actionable Advice:

Stay Ahead of Trends: Entrepreneurs should constantly monitor emerging trends and technologies. Tools like Google Trends, industry reports, and social media analytics can help identify shifts in consumer behavior.

Niche Markets: Focus on niche markets that are underserved. This can provide a competitive edge and establish your brand as a leader in that space.

Scaling Up: From One Store to a Global Presence

Under Kusin’s leadership, GameStop expanded to 10,000 stores in 60 countries, generating $10 billion in revenues. This growth was driven by a deep understanding of the market and strategic expansion.

Actionable Advice:

Strategic Planning: Develop a clear growth strategy that includes market research, financial planning, and scalability.

Customer Focus: Prioritize customer experience and feedback. Loyal customers can become brand advocates and drive organic growth.

Transforming Kinko’s: A Case Study in Business Turnaround

Rationalizing Store Locations

As the president and CEO of Kinko’s, Kusin led a significant turnaround by rationalizing store locations. This involved closing underperforming stores and focusing on profitable ones.

Actionable Advice:

Data-Driven Decisions: Use data analytics to assess the performance of different business units. This can help identify areas for improvement and inform strategic decisions.

Cost Management: Regularly review and manage operational costs. Streamlining operations can improve profitability and efficiency.

Implementing a Corporate Sales Organization

Kusin also implemented a large corporate sales organization at Kinko’s, which significantly increased revenue by targeting corporate clients.

Actionable Advice:

Diversify Revenue Streams: Explore different revenue streams, such as B2B sales, to reduce dependency on a single market segment.

Sales Strategy: Develop a robust sales strategy that includes training, performance metrics, and incentives for the sales team.

The Phenomenon of Meme Stocks: Emotional and Intellectual Dynamics

Understanding Market Behavior

The episode also touched on the phenomenon of meme stocks, such as GameStop and Truth Social. Kusin discussed the emotional and intellectual dynamics that drive their valuation and market behavior.

Actionable Advice:

Market Sentiment: Keep an eye on market sentiment and social media trends. Platforms like Reddit and Twitter can provide insights into investor behavior.

Risk Management: Be cautious with investments in highly volatile stocks. Diversify your portfolio to mitigate risks.

Listen to Gary Kusin’s full interview on The Small Business Radio Show.


Small Business Radio Show As a small business expert, Barry Moltz gets owners growing again by unlocking their long forgotten potential. With decades of entrepreneurial experience in his own business ventures as well as consulting countless other entrepreneurs, Barry has discovered the formula to get stuck business owners unstuck and marching forward. As a small business expert, Barry applies simple, strategic steps to facilitate change.