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The Puzzle Factory -- Best-Sellers of 2013
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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My game and toy store (The Puzzle Factory, in Salmon Arm, BC) has been open for 15 months now, having weathered its first full calendar year in business. We've had some challenges: a new Wal-Mart opened in town, four major new video game console systems were released in 2013 and we continue to roll money back into the business. We now carry about 450 different board and card games, which I think isn't bad for a small store in a town of 18,000 people in the middle of the BC wilderness.

Our sales are a little odd compared to many pure game stores, as we're a hybrid store, selling both genre games and childrens' toys. As such, we get a lot of customers looking for family games as well as our usual cadre of harder core gamers.

A good example of the kind of store I have is that I sell more copies of Scrabble than I do of, say, Pandemic.

This is the second of my annual best-seller lists, listing the top 15 best-sellers in my store for the 2013 calendar year. All products in a given line count for the purposes of the list. Thus, the #1 item on the list, Settlers of Catan, includes all the products in that specific line (but not separate Catan-themed games such as Star Trek Catan or Merchants of Europe, for example.)

For each item on the list I have given it an indexed value; this is the number of copies of that product or product line I have sold for every hundred copies of the #1 item on the list. So, an item with an indexed value of 20 has sold 20 copies for every 100 copies of Settlers of Catan and its expansions.

The bottom item on this list at #15, Hanabi, sold a mere 7 copies for every 100 copies of the Catan line. That means that of the 450 titles I carry, I had a "long tail" of at least 400 -- games that I sold even fewer of. I've sold a couple of copies of Caverna, for example, and fewer than ten copies of Zombicide and its related items (although it suffered from poor availability).

And I didn't include Monopoly on the list, even though it would have placed. Because, y'know, f*** Monopoly.
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1. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:161]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed value: 100

For the second year in a row, and completely unsurprisingly, Settlers of Catan was our best seller. I have given it an indexed value of 100. For every 100 copies of Catan I've sold, I've sold 46 copies of the #2 item on the list (Munchkin, with an indexed value of 46).

I'm constantly amazed that there are people out there who don't own the basic game, and sales of the red box accounted for over half of our total sales of Catan products.

Our overall sales on Catan products would have been higher had it not been for our suppliers regularly running out of the 5-6 player extension for the main game and even occasionally running out of the red box. Even as a small store, I order the red box two cases at a time and have still found myself out of stock occasionally. It's a tough balance -- I prefer not to keep much stock in the storage room, and would rather use my distributors as warehouses. We'll likely have to work better on our inventory levels on major sellers in 2014.
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2. Board Game: Munchkin [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:2275] [Average Rating:6.03 Unranked]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 46

Up from the #5 position last year, and definitely because of my decision to start carrying the full line of boxed game products. Last year we carried only the base game, Munchkin Deluxe and the first couple of base game expansions. We now carry everything from Munchkin Axe Cop to Munchkin Zombies, plus all eight base expansions, all as regular stock. I intend to start carrying the gewgaws for the game -- dice, figures, boxes, etc. -- in 2014.
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3. Board Game: Ha! Ha! Moustache [Average Rating:5.02 Overall Rank:9811]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 31

Retailers: never underestimate the value of a burrito game -- that is, a game that costs as much as or less than the price of a burrito. And especially a game that comes with demo cards. People see it on my counter, I hold Albert Einstein's mustache up to my face, and I start reading the clues.

Not everything we carry needs to be a $30-$60 game. Some of the best sellers go into Christmas stockings. My supplier think it's funny that I keep reordering this. I think it shows that I value the customers who wouldn't buy a copy of Zombicide if their life depended on it.

Ha! Ha! Moustache was this year's Hand's On for us -- a quick, cheap little game that anyone can play and that hardly anyone else carried.
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4. Board Game: Spot it! [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:603]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 25

Back again, and having dropped a couple of places from the previous list, but only because of increased sales from the #2 and #3 items on my list. This is a solid seller for us. A very fun game, playable by all ages, at an excellent price point.
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5. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:84]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 24

I sell about four times as many copies of Catan as I do of TTR, and have sold fewer copies this year than last year, which I ascribe to poor stock levels at my suppliers and what I believe may be market saturation. More than half of our TTR sales this year were copies of the latest map set of the Netherlands.
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6. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:105]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 17

Sold about four times as many of the red bag version as the Kanai edition. Currently sold out of Kanai and only have a couple of the red bag edition on the shelf, down from the 20-odd copies I had a couple of weeks ago. If Hanabi had been more available to me, I predict that it could have sold at least as well as Love Letter, if not moreso. Alas, supply problems.
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7. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:30] [Average Rating:7.78 Unranked]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed value: 13

Very strong seller, even if it only sells about 13% as well as Catan for us. Base game unavailable for extended periods a couple of times this year. Like TTR, just about impossible to restock at Christmas.
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8. Board Game: Rory's Story Cubes [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1496] [Average Rating:6.45 Unranked]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 12

Great game for younger children and/or for language learning, including foreign language learning. When parents come in looking for something inexpensive and educational, this is my go-to. Readily available from genre game suppliers, no game store should do without this line of products.
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9. Board Game: Forbidden Desert [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:152]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 11.8

Perhaps the best new game of 2013 because of its wide appeal and excellent design. My go-to when parents come in asking for a game for their 10-year-old boy and his friends, brothers and/or sisters.
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10. Board Game: Dutch Blitz [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1939]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 11

Excellent game made more interesting by the recently-released expansion, allowing for up to eight players. With the two together, you have a sub-$30 suggestion for families of 8 to play. Classic and worth playing.
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11. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:406]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed value: 10

A very good game that has maintained its legs.
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12. Board Game: Gloom [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1082] [Average Rating:6.43 Unranked]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 9

Great mechanics, unique design, fun, funny, morbid and easy to recommend.
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13. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:108] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 8

My go-to for players who are looking for a Risklike. Has the advantage of Euro-style play and a huge variety of opening game states, plus fantasy theming.
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14. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:117] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed Value: 8

Could have sold three or four times as many copies if it had been readily available. This might be a function of being in Canada. I may have to open an account with a US supplier in order to benefit from their stock levels.
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15. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:144]
James Cowling
Canada
Salmon Arm
BC
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Owner of The Puzzle Factory, 170 Hudson Ave, Salmon Arm BC
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Indexed value: 6.5

Great game, well deserving of the awards. Could have sold many more if it had been in stock at my suppliers for much of the year.
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