The Chip Shop: Big Potato on its plans to become a distie

From Linkee to Obama Llama, Bucket of Doom to Mr Lister’s Quiz Shootout, the Big Potato team has always aimed to bring something unique to the industry. Now, the firm is trying its hand at games distribution. Robert Hutchins talks to co-founder, Dean Tempest, about the company’s exciting new venture The Chip Shop.
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What links a London ad agency, Barack Obama and a King Edward? The answer is, of course, potatoes. And in fact, two of the three mentioned above are directly linked to one of the most important spuds the toy industry has encountered in the last decade: Big Potato.

A team of four former London advertising executives, Big Potato burst onto the toy scene in 2012 when it launched its debut title, Linkee.

The immediate success of the shouty-out trivia game led this band of creatives to quickly desert their posts in the world of advertising and take up a full time position in the toy industry with their own portfolio of party game creations.

Now, in the wake of a successful roster of Linkee spin-offs, including a Dinkee Linkee and a Linkee-inspired game show hosted by Mark Williams, as well as a catalogue of games such as Bucket of Doom, Mr. Lister, Qwordie and Radio One DJ Matt Edmonson’s Obama Llama, Big Potato is disrupting the industry once again.

In its latest project, the team is making the move into games distribution, opening up independent retailers to some of the newest and most unusual games from around the world.

Sticking with the potato theme, the new business venture is called The Chip Shop and is the result of the team’s collective disbelief that so many of the games it has uncovered in its travels simply aren’t available to the UK market.

“We’ve stumbled across so many cool games on our travels, and have always been surprised they aren’t available in the UK,” Dean Tempest, co-founder of Big Potato, tells ToyNews. “At the same time, we were trying to work out how we could make our Big Potato games more accessible to indie stores. The Chip Shop will enable us to do both.”

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With the aim of being the alternative games distributor to the UK’s independent toy and game retailers, The Chip Shop sticks to one simple philosophy: ‘If we haven’t made it, we wish we had.’ Tempest continues: “The indies are important to us. We believe that to truly grow a good game you need to start from the grassroots and work up.”

It’s a concept that Big Potato has already had a lot of experience with, having built a community around Linkee back in 2012 by challenging the public to submit their own questions to the hit trivia game.

“Working closely with the indies – true advocates of good games and whom customers trust – we know this is the best place to get our message across.”

The new concept will see The Chip Shop house a number of exclusive titles, sourced from across the globe. It stands to reason then that when it comes to the menu, quality is more important than quantity.

“We won’t have hundreds of games on offer, but like a good chippy, we’ll be selective about what we source and offer. A smaller menu is usually the sign of a more thoughtful chef,” explains Tempest.

More than anything, The Chip Shop presents a bridge between the creative minds behind a new era of party gaming and the open-minded retailers that sell them.

“The Chip Shop needs to be something that can evolve with our customers,” explains Tempest. “In fact, we hit the phones this year and called over 250 indies to ask them what they would like from a new distributor. What we learned from those chats will shape The Chip Shop this year.”

While 2016 has been earmarked as the year that the team builds The Chip Shop’s reach across the UK, this kitchen of creativity is already hotting up and open for business now with a raft of games available from German firm Zoch.

“They make games that we love playing in the Potato Cave, so we figured that there must be loads of people out there who would love them, too,” says Tempest.

“2016 will be the year we build The Chip Shop. By the end of the year, indies will hopefully be really pleased with what we are trying to do, and the world of The Chip Shop will be cooking on full gas,” he concludes.

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At over 60,000 square feet of retail space and interactive displays, The Big Shop (formerly Snetterton Park Models) has been in operation for 15 years. ToyNews talks to MD Trevor Warner.

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