Have you ever wondered about people buying all the sword you hauled from a dusty dungeon, preparing your rooms in a tavern, or fixing your car when you drive into a garage?

These usually nameless NPC toil day and night to make sure you’re well supplied… and you never cared, have you?

Well, now you can experience their side of the story. Shopkeeping games have had a weird allure to them for quite some time, perhaps scratching at the same itch as lair management games, like Dungeon Keeper, did – this fantasy of being the other side of a usual game.

Whatever the reasons are, there are many games putting you behind the counter of a barely established shop and asking you manage wares, prices, haggle with customers, and figure out your supply lines.

And where there are many games to pick from, one wonders what to choose. To help with that we’ve prepared a list of a few titles about running your own shop (or tavern…or restaurant!) to help you pick something you’ll vibe with.

GameReleaseGenreDeveloper
Garden Paws 2018-12-18 Adventure Bitten Toast Games Inc.
Potion Craft Alchemist Simulator 2021-09-21 Simulation niceplay game
Weapon Shop Fantasy 2017-02-26 Action & Shooter Digdog Studio
Travellers Rest 2020-07-28 Indie Isolated Games
Moonlighter 2018-05-29 Adventure Digital Sun
Shoppe Keep 2 2018-05-03 Strategy Strangefire
Petoons Party 2019-04-30 Indie Petoons Studio
Winkeltje The Little Shop 2022-04-22 Strategy Sassybot
Holy Potatoes A Weapon Shop 2015-07-13 Indie Daylight Studios
Nova Lands 2023-06-22 Base Building BEHEMUTT
Tavern Master 2021-11-16 Building Untitled Studio
Dave The Diver 2022-10-27 Adventure MINTROCKET
Graveyard Keeper 2018-08-15 Adventure Lazy Bear Games
Stardew Valley 2016-02-26 Adventure ConcernedApe
Gas Station Simulator 2021-09-15 Simulation Drago Entertainment
Potionomics 2022-10-17 Indie Voracious Games

Recettear: An Item Shops Tale

Release date:Dec 21, 2007
Genre:RPG, Simulator
Developer:EasyGameStation

The premise Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale feels like it could be a great slice-of-life manga.

You’re playing as Recette, a young girl who has to run a fantasy item shop, because her mysteriously missing dad decided not to pay back his debt to a persistent fairy called Tear. Like a few other games on this list, it mixes an accessible store management gameplay with delving dungeons to get stock.

Of course, delving the same dungeon over and over again could get tiring fast, so the layouts and contents are randomized, and you can hire adventurers to help you, providing an extra layer or diversity. As for the shop, the management is broad, but not overwhelming. You get to choose and negotiate prices, pick the best places to display your stock, and work on improvements.

Key features
  • Dynamic combat on closed arenas
  • Friendly tone
  • Simple, but satisfying shop management
  • Manga-like aesthetic

Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator

Release date:2021-09-21
Genre:Simulation
Developer:niceplay game

Like many shop-management games, Potion Craft starts you off in a difficult position.

You’re starting from scratch, must convince your customers you’re competent, you must create stock on your own, and as a newbie alchemist you must learn on the job. It’s not an enviable position, but it a fun challenge, and the potion-brewing system is both whimsical and surprisingly tactile.

Each day, your shop is visited by several customers, all with quite specific requirements corresponding to several magical effects on your alchemy map.

The requirements grow in intensity and complexity, and you also have to deal with customers who want potions for less… legal purposes. Of course, they also pay nicely, so it’s up to you whether you want to risk your reputation.

Key features
  • Numerous alchemical ingredients you use to navigate the brewing map
  • You must balance your popularity, reputation and financial prospects
  • An entertaining haggling minigame based on topics and reflexes
  • Highly tactile, interactive brewing process, including ingredients you can toss around

Moonlighter

Release date:2018-05-29
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Digital Sun

In Moonlighter you’re playing as Will, a young wannabe Hero who despite these lofty ambitions is saddled with the family business: being a Merchant.

Despite this unfortunate situation, Will spends the nights delving into the nearby dungeon and selling the spoils at the store during the day. Living both lifestyles at once isn’t easy, but if anybody’s going to make it work, it’s you.

Moonlighter’s store management is quite robust, with all the best stuff like price setting, designating items for regular, premium, and discount displays, and customers with diverse requirements.

But remember: you’re acquiring stock on your own in the nearby dungeons, so you need to save some items for yourself, of course, otherwise you’ll never get to the good stuff.

Key features
  • Pixel art aesthetic
  • Roguelike dungeon delving
  • Merchant by day, Hero by night
  • Engaging store management

Winkeltje: The Little Shop

Release date:2022-04-22
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Sassybot

Winkeltje: The Little Shop is a great option for those who don’t crave the thrills of adventure, only the thrills of running a business.

It gives you by far the most flexibility out of the games we’ve mentioned so far, giving you a ton of control over your shop’s layout, the wares you’re providing, and employee management, on top of the usual business operation.

There are also crafting and farming segments, allowing you to create your own stock. You can also specialize your business by focusing only on one category of wares, like tools to become a blacksmith or clothes to become a tailor.

Eventually, customers will figure out that you’re going full-steam ahead into one area and will stop asking you to provide other products.

Key features
  • Multiple possible specializations, including being just a general store
  • Satisfying the diversity of products you can put on the shelves
  • Design your own shop like it’s a business version of The Sims
  • Plan ahead: the seasons change, and you should take this into consideration

Gas Station Simulator

Release date:2021-09-15
Genre:Simulation
Developer:Drago Entertainment

We’ve spent some time in fantasy lands, it might be a good idea to return to our own. Gas Station Simulator is exactly what the title suggests.

You start the game having acquired an old roadside gas station in the middle of a desert. As a result, you’ll need to renovate the building and fix all the necessary equipment before you could expect any customers.

In time, you’ll be able to expand, adding more products, and even some amenities, like toiler access or garage for repairs.

You can eventually create a car heaven in the middle of a car hell. You will also, of course, have to manage your stock, hire employees for specific roles, and set competitive prices. It’s a lot of work and thanks to the game’s first-person perspective, it’s very hands-on.

Key features
  • Renovate an old-school gas station near a desert highway
  • Branch out into additional services, like a general store and car wash
  • An expansion adds an airstrip to your station
  • First-person perspective

Ravenous Devils

Release date:2022-05-01
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Bad Vices Games

We’ve had cozy, friendly, and down-to-earth, so how about a little grotesque?

Ravenous Devils is set in 19th century London and features two leads: a tailor called Percival, and a pub owner Hildred, living and working on different floors of a shared building. This might sound pleasant, except Percival tends to kill his clients and send their bodies down for Hildred to prepare and cook.

Balance criminal tendencies with honest business, and both characters’ establishments will flourish and improve greatly. There is, however, somebody who knows what’s going on and might have their own agenda.

Ravenous Devils isn’t a big game, the story could be finished in a few hours, but its evocative theme, grisly animations, and Victorian England setting make it very fun.

Key features
  • Two playable characters
  • Vertical side-scrolling: murderous tailor on top floor, and a red-handed pub owner below
  • Very short, could be completed in one sitting
  • Set in 19th century London

Potionomics

Release date:2022-10-17
Genre:Indie
Developer:Voracious Games

Potionomics is a larger-scale cousin to Potion Craft.

It’s a great option if rather than making and selling a few potions on your break, you’d rather go the whole hog on the theme, with alchemy competitions, and a lot of character-driven charm. You’ll be playing as Sylvia who inherited her uncle’s alchemy shop…and his debts, not unlike Recette earlier on.

Potion brewing is a very robust and engaging mechanics, with lots of recipes and factors to consider, and if you want to put them up for sale, you’ll have a lot of fun with the haggling system.

It uses a card deck simulating strategies learned from other characters, and cards can have a palpable effect on the final result of the price debate, for better or worse.

Key features
  • Charming tone and aesthetic
  • Interesting haggling system
  • Detailed and complex potion brewing
  • Plenty to do outside of the shop, including relationships with other characters

Dave The Diver

Release date:2022-10-27
Genre:Adventure
Developer:MINTROCKET

Dave the Diver is less about running a shop and more about running a sushi restaurant located near a massive underwater sinkhole which is rich not only in fish for your business, but also in many mysteries.

Huge monsters, and even a forgotten civilization. You’ll be diving in yourself, limited by your air supply, the weight of everything you managed to acquire, and your ability to survive attacks.

After your two allowed daily dives, you spend your evening running your restaurant, which includes cooking the meals (via minigames), renovating the place, and catering to important customers.

Like most games on the list, it also isn’t very serious, but it doesn’t stop it from being one of the best games of 2023 in general, not just in the shopkeeping genre.

Key features
  • Pixel art aesthetic
  • A glimpse into the life of a professional diver and sushi restaurant owner
  • Doesn’t take itself very seriously
  • Gameplay split between excursions into the depths and running your sushi business

Tavern Master

Release date:2021-11-16
Genre:Simulation
Developer:Untitled Studio

Another game focused mostly on gastronomical ventures, Tavern Master puts you behind the counter of a medieval-style tavern.

It is similar to Winkeltje: you have a parcel of land on which you can build your tavern, starting with a small building and expanding as your resources and guest demands increase. Evolving from a small pub to a lavish inn takes a while but is very satisfying.

Running a well-oiled tavern is a lot of hard work, but you don’t have to do it alone. So, while you’re planning events, managing prices and addressing immediate problems, you can hire cooks, servers, and entertainers to deal with the minutia of hospitality.

Your establishment can also offer rooms, so you need to make sure you can host both groups and individuals, as needed.

Key features
  • Build and improve your very own medieval tavern
  • Provide food, entertainment, and rooms to your guests
  • An impressive array of furniture and decoration.
  • Hire employees and design good workflows

Merchant of the Skies

Release date:2020-04-17
Genre:Indie
Developer:AbsoDev

We’re coming back to the hard life of a trader in Merchant of the Skies.

The game is set in a world filled with floating islands, which would be an issue, but thankfully you are the captain of a skyship that’s as capable of both transporting your crew and carrying cargo. As an enterprising individual, you’ll start out small, and work hard to one day run a powerful trading company.

Merchant of the Skies is a fairly open-ended game involving lots of exploration to find new communities and resources, a strong element of base building, and even a few RPG elements to spice things up.

There’s a short campaign available, if you want direction, but you can also play it as a sandbox, going about your own business as a fancy trader in a cool skyship.

Key features
  • Interesting skyborne setting full of floating islands and a few even weirder locations
  • Several airships of various sizes, cargo capacities, and range
  • Establish and expand your base of operations
  • Trade between distant islands and maximize your profits

There’s so much on display

This concludes our list of games which let you run your own store. You might run it into the ground, if you’re not careful, but that’s on you. Shop simulators come in various shapes, sizes, and settings, so hopefully you’ve spotted something cool to have hours of fun with. Are you ready to turn over a new leaf as a store owner or a tavern manager?