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pog mike ericFrom games for the classic systems like NES and Atari to Sega for today’s newer systems like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Forest Lake’s Punch Out Gaming has options for almost every video game enthusiast. The idea for Punch Out Gaming, owned by brothers Eric and Mike Johnson, first began in 2013 while the pair was selling games from Mike’s house. Eric decided to put his collection of video games up for sale in an attempt to make some money.

 “While I was going to school I needed some money to make a car payment,” Eric said. “So I had a garage sale with some of my games, and I made a lot of money.”

The Johnsons took their initial video game garage sale and expanded their collection in order to successfully sell their games to different types of video game lovers.

“We love games,” Mike said. “We’ve been collecting for a long time, and we decided to start selling our stuff.”

The brothers moved on to sell games near college campuses around the area and then began attending flea markets to sell their games. After the flea markets proved to be successful, Eric and Mike decided they needed to broaden their horizons.

“We went in a flea market for a few months and decided that we actually needed our own store. So we looked around for a few days and found the perfect location. We signed the lease and two weeks later we opened,” Mike explained.

From there, Punch Out Gaming was born. The brothers settled on Forest Lake as a destination because their location off Lake Street brings high traffic, and they are a safe distance away from their competitors.

“We don’t want to try to step on other stores toes,” Eric said.

The Johnsons opened Punch Out Gaming on March 8 of 2014, and business has been good for the store ever since. Its geeky but charming décor may have something to do with that success. Instead of a bell, the sound of Super Mario collecting a coin is what greets customers who walk through the door, and the walls and counters are decorated with stencils and stickers of retro games. Along one wall, pixel portraits of each of the boxers in the store’s namesake “Punch Out!!” video game, hang above shelves of games.

The main draw, however, is the store’s inventory, which has expanded to include games from nearly every video game platform. The brothers continue to get new games and systems in every day.

“We’ve far exceeded our expectations,” Eric Johnson said. “It’s been pretty amazing. We were hoping to survive and make a couple hundred bucks every day, and this has just been far above that.”

Punch Out Gaming sells and buys games for both cash and store credit. The store also does free giveaways to their customers, one store’s main strategy to set itself apart from its competitors. Along with the free giveaways, the Johnsons said Punch Out Gaming keeps a close eye on video game prices to ensure their prices are lower, and they also encourage their customers to call the store any time with questions or feedback.

“We try to make sure that the customer can have a really great experience,” Mike said.

Punch Out Gaming is located at 828 Lake St. S. It is open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 651-464-9820.

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