Today marks the fifth anniversary for one local business.
Tom Hayes, owner of Level Up, a new and used video game store, has hit the five-year mark at his original store in Bellevue and is to celebrate two years of business at the Tiffin branch in November.
"I'd say five years is a good milestone, especially for a Bellevue business," Hayes said. "I know in the first year alone I saw so many businesses close up or leave town. ... It's something I'm pretty proud of."
Hayes opened the Bellevue store, at 121 E. Main St., in 2006 after five years working at an EB Games in Sandusky. He said part of the reason to open an independent store was concern over quality after EB Games and GameStop merged.
Although he grew up in Sandusky, he said it was not ideal for a video game store.
"There were at least 10 locations you could get games and half of those where you could trade in," Hayes said. "So I figured it would be hard to start off something small there where there was so much competition and land value was a little higher."
He was turned on to Bellevue after a suggestion from a close friend and godson who lived there. He also "fell in love with" a building which was affordable and ideal.
After three years of growth, Hayes decided to open a second location in Tiffin at 59 E. Market St.
"I just noticed that Tiffin was a decent distance but not too far from Bellevue," he said. "It's been extremely busy. We do well over double the sales of the Bellevue store and triple the trade-ins. Things have been good."
Because of his success, Hayes decided to donate his profits the last week of November to local food pantries and soup kitchens. The two stores were able to bring in more than $5,000.
"I think it went great," Hayes said. "I'd like to do something similar again. I don't know exactly what, but when the time is right it'll hit me."
To thank customers for their support, every $25 spent at either location gets customers a ticket, which corresponds to many prizes, including coupons, gift cards, cash prizes and a Nintendo Wii.
"I really like to give back," Hayes said. "I do very little in advertising. If I do a promotion where I give away a game system or whatever, just by giving back to the customers they seem to respond better."
The promotion runs until Saturday.
Level Up features new and used video games, DVDs and CDs, game systems and skateboards. The store has a trade-in system similar to that of GameStop where customers can bring in old games for money or store credit.
Games and systems range from new, including Playstation 3, X-Box 360 and Wii, to older systems like the original Nintendo and Sega Genesis.
Level Up in Bellevue and Tiffin is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and noon to 6 p.m. in Tiffin.