by RENEE PATRICK Cascade Business News Feature Writer
Jason Zlatkus, self professed kid-at-heart, has taken his love of gaming and applied it to his business philosophy at The Hive. Based in Redmond, Zlatkus gets true enjoyment from running the store, being able to complete with national retailers and offering customers exactly what they want and even what they didn’t know they wanted.
He believes the key is, “I keep a positive attitude and look and learn how to compete…[I will] do the simple things that other people are missing. We will do what we have to do to get your business. If we don’t have it we will get it. [This attitude] transcends the business.”
Zlatkus has been in the gaming and toy industry for over 22 years. He began selling and dealing in vintage toys from the age of 15, having learned the business from an influential mentor. He began selling through mail order and trade magazines until the early ‘90s when Ebay entered the picture. Online business proved to be very successful, so he created a website to compete with the growing market. Zlatkus found it to be a very labor intensive way to make a living, so when he and his family decided to move to Redmond eight years ago he began to consider opening a store.
It would take another six years to realize his dream of The Hive. The final push came when he found the supply for many of the goods he was selling was drying up and his growing kids were making delineating his work life from family life difficult.
In October 2008, The Hive was opened in a very small, 290 square-foot storefront in Redmond. The positive response from the community was more than Zlatkus could have hoped for and soon found himself outgrowing the space. He received notice of a storefront in downtown Redmond that had opened, took the leap of faith, and moved into the 1,200 square-foot space.
Business has been fantastic. More than customers, Zlatkus has made many friends through the venture. He was able to expand the product lines, create a gaming area with lounge and worked to anticipate new gaming and toy trends. He offers free wifi, regular matches of magic, cards and role playing games and hosts game tournaments on the weekends. Part of his success can be attributed to his determination to offer the best prices around, as well as focusing on the customer and his relationship with them.
Zlatkus is conscious to make sure everything is kid oriented and that The Hive remains a safe environment. He does find it challenging at times to walk the fine line between being someone the kids can confide in but is obviously on the parent’s side. He doesn’t want kids skipping school or for the store to become misused in any way.
Less than a month ago, Zlatkus purchased Redmond Music Supply, renamed Atomic Music, the business next door to The Hive. While he confesses he doesn’t know as much about musical instruments as games, he knew his business model at The Hive could be used for Atomic Music. He hired Nate Kunkel to run the store and has already placed orders for new brand name inventory. The store will offer pre-owned instruments as well.
The future outlook for Zlatkus and his stores is bright. He would love to open a gaming store in Bend and enjoys business so much he could see himself getting involved in other ventures.
The Hive, 536 SW Sixth Street, Redmond OR 97756, M-Sat 10am–7pm, Sun 12–5pm, 541-923-4263 http://thehivetoys.com.
Atomic Music, 526 SW Sixth St. 541-504-2651.