Thieves and vandals have left a shop owner fearing he will have to give up his business.
Less than a year after opening his gaming store, Sean Randell believes that time is already running out on his dream career as he is unable to recover financially from the damage caused. The 29-year-old ploughed months of hard work and energy into creating a venue which he aspired would become a hub for the community.
The shop includes a games arcade and a sweet shop and Sean explains that some customers can spend up to five hours socialising in the store. But he admits that the shop he hoped would benefit young people in the community is being destroyed by the age group he targeted his business towards.
Sean, from Gateshead, said: "It's my perfect target audience that's ruining it. It feels like a slap in the face."
Sean opened Two Game Limited in July 2021 after taking out a loan with the government's start up scheme. He acquired a derelict building on Front Street, in Stanley, and quickly got to work renovating the property.
The career move marked a huge change for Sean who left his job with Lloyds Bank in April 2021, where he worked on the financial crisis team. Following an 18 month battle with depression, Sean said he came up with the idea for the store and felt starting a business and becoming his own boss would help him cope.
And in the first few months of opening the shop he explained that everything seemed to be going great. Sean said: "People were coming down and good word was getting spread around and then on the lead up to Christmas it was better again, word of mouth got out and people were actively going out and getting presents."
However, on New Year's Eve things took a devastating turn when burglars stole the majority of his gaming stock including Xbox consoles and video games, leaving him £7,000 out of pocket.
Sean said: "I had no stock in the shop so had nothing to sell for three or four weeks, at least until the insurance managed to cover what had gone missing. In that space of three or four weeks people generally forgot about the store.
"It coincided with the January blues as well so it was just a massive plummet from being great and riding high to getting one or two sales a day. I think it's worked out that I've only actually made like £14 or £15 a day from the point when we reopened again, which isn't enough to do anything with at all."
As well as coming as a huge blow to the business, Sean said the shop has been targeted a number of times since the incident by burglars and vandals who have attempted to cause further damage.
He added: "It's just mindless vandalism. A shop on the same street had their defibrillator ripped off the wall and their windows put out too… they're not doing it for the money or anything, they're just doing it because they can and there’s no repercussions because of it.
"I don't think it's directed at me or what the shop is, I think it's because before I took the building over it was empty and had been derelict for about a year and it was targeted with vandalism before I took it over and I think youths had just gotten used to targeting this building because it lay empty for that long and they could get away with it because no one was reporting it."
In a desperate attempt to save his business, Sean has now set up a GoFundMe page to help raise funds to support the business and encourage people to get behind the business and support it. Anyone wishing to donate to Sean's fundraiser can do so via this link.
Sean said: "It's hard to put a figure on what it's going to take to save the business. But what I do want more than anything is for people to get behind the business and become a community because it's more of a community hub.
"Rather than people coming in, buying a game and going, it's totally different. People come in and they spend four or five hours in the shop. I'd rather people came in and got the word out than just throw money at me.
"Word of mouth is a lot stronger than just having money thrown at you."