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Subject: Diary of lowly worker in the industry rss

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Ed Bryan
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So I work at one of those terrible online retailers that are ruining the industry. I thought some might be interested in how it works. I'm in charge of the board game department. I took over in October of 2006. At that time the department was somewhat unloved. After some discussions with the owner, I instituted some major pricing changes, as well as broadening our selection tremendously. My days consist of various tasks. I work on the website, changing descriptions, and adding pictures. You'd think that this would be a finite job, but it isn't, apparently there is some warp hole, that makes sure there is always something to be done. I also receive in new inventory and restocks, this is one of my favorite activities, as it is a little bit like Christmas. I open up boxes full of board games, I get to marvel at the pretty artwork, and heft the heavy ones. Unfortunately I don't get to pull the shrinkwrap off though. I spend a chunk of time researching new products to carry. This involves actually looking at ads on BGG, as well as other websites in addition to other sources, such as attending Essen. Yep I got paid to go to Essen.

Unlike other online retailers, we carry OOP (Out of Print) games. This has brought much derision from BGG community. Some, okay almost all, think our prices on OOP games are way too high. I make an effort not to respond to these messages, but here for the first time, is a small description of why our prices are what they are. We have one reliable source of pricing for OOP games, Ebay. So our price is based on Ebay. We have one reliable source for OOP games to carry, Ebay. We base our price on the price we have to pay to restock. I'll give a small example. War in Europe. We sell a VF copy for around $350, Ebay is somewhere around 200-300. Let's say we acquire a copy for $225. Tack on another $10 for shipping. We are at $235. Tack on 3-4 hours of employee time verifying. We are at $275. At this point we are at a ~27% mark up, not terribly outrageous. Now what happens after two hours of verifying we find the game is not complete? On to the parts shelf...which currently has somewhere around 300 games. Unfortunately the cheaper the game, the more verifying the game increases the cost. Now of course if you run through our prices you'll still find some games that have prices that are way too high, this is mostly due to having over 1000 titles, and not having time to reprice these items on a regular basis. On the same token, we have underpriced games as well. Take a peek at our Formula De circuit prices. These badly need to be updated, as most are below ebay prices by 10-20 bucks.

I don't know how often I'll add to this blog, but I've got other things to discuss..such as attending a con as a vendor. I won't discuss pricing but any other questions you might have, I'll try to answer.
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upandawaygames.com
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Interesting info, Ed! Please do continue.
 
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Mark Farr
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That is very interesting!

I have read about the need to support the brick and mortar stores and I can understand the reasoning. Some countries though have stores that either cannot, or will not, bring in many games. For us, online retailers are essential. I see many Americans saying they purchase from online stores because of the money they save, even getting free shipping. I use them when I can't get the game locally at all, which is quite often, and there is never a question of free shipping.

I usually ask my FLGS first, and when they tell me that they cannot get the game, or that they aren't interested in the hassle of doing so, I turn to eBay (including eBay stores like Troll & Toad). I will support my FLGS where I can, but when they're not bringing in what you asked for, I think they can't complain. I believe restricting my purchases to only those games they deem fit to stock is carrying the idea too far.

The bit about eBay influencing the prices is particularly interesting. I was after a copy of Star Wars: Queen's Gambit recently. There were two shrink-wrapped copies competing for my attention on eBay. I ended up winning a copy for $112. The other copy was selling at Troll & Toad as Buy it Now for around the same price, but with higher postage costs. I checked on the Troll & Toad price a few days after the auction closed and it had climbed to around $170. I had to wonder if the auction had influenced the price hike. I see it's gone now (the shrink-wrapped copy) from Troll & Toad. I don't mind the prices. I either want the game or I don't and I am old enough to decide what I am prepared to pay. Generally, with it being extra hard to get stuff here, I will pay whatever it takes. I'm usually just grateful someone is willing to ship outside the USA! So, not everyone is against online retailers, and not everyone thinks the pricing is too high. Without you guys, my collection would be a good deal smaller, and a lot less interesting.

So then, perhaps the problem is not the online retailers so much as us desperate foreigners that are prepared to pay outrageous prices just to be able to get hold of the games.
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Philip Reed
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Tobold wrote:
I see many Americans saying they purchase from online stores because of the money they save, even getting free shipping.


I try to evenly divide my spending between the two local stores and online stores. The primary reason to support a local store is to help make certain a store is in the area where anyone can go to shop . . . and play games. Both of the local stores I support have excellent in-store gaming.
 
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Green Knight Games
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Edbryan wrote:
apparently there is some warp hole, that makes sure there is always something to be done.

Co-running a (smaller) online games shop, I definitely recognise this comment.
 
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David Brafman
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There actually is another source of good data for used game pricing: the "market info" selection in the Marketplace right here on boardgamegeek.com. It shows the price range for previous sales of the game.

Perhaps you would be best served by only purchasing used games that are represented to be complete by a seller with good feedback that seems to know what they are talking about, and then selling the game without having to add 2 or 3 hours of labor. The people most interested in your games are also people familiar with the marketplace here and ebay, hence the reaction to a lot of the pricing.
 
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John Fairley
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All I would add is, if you actually get people to pay those prices, more power to you. I can't imagine who would be that desperate for a game.
 
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J C Lawrence
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I have paid those prices and was glad to. In my case it was for a copy of Kanaloa; a wonderful game that I need to bring out more often.
 
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Mark Farr
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Bostich wrote:
All I would add is, if you actually get people to pay those prices, more power to you. I can't imagine who would be that desperate for a game.


It's all relative. I am amazed by how so many people can complain about prices being high, but I can understand that it's all about what they're used to. We pay so much more for games here. The Australians seem to pay about the same as us once you do the currency conversions. I haven't checked the UK prices too closely, and there are surely other countries that suffer too, but Americans get these games dirt cheap relative to us.

I had to go up to $112 US for Star Wars: Queen's Gambit, which is quite a bit (my most expensive game to date), but that's not much more than the recent Shogun from Queen Games cost me ($100 US) over the counter from my FLGS, and I get a 10% discount. The master set for HeroScape costs just over $100 US here, and that's when you can find one! I am so envious when I see what they cost in the USA, and then read about how some feel they're too expensive!

Yesterday I picked up Friedrich at my FLGS which cost me $84 US, the usual price for a game in this size box. Days of Wonder games cost around the same, except for BattleLore which is around $100. What seems a high price to some is a reasonable offer to others, or even a bargain! There are other factors that influence how much one is willing to pay, such as the amount of money at one's disposal, but I don't think one can appeal to rationality here. The bottom line is that most of us can't imagine anyone doing anything they themselves wouldn't do.

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John Fairley
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Well said Mark.
 
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Ed Bryan
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brafman wrote:
There actually is another source of good data for used game pricing: the "market info" selection in the Marketplace right here on boardgamegeek.com. It shows the price range for previous sales of the game.

I have looked at the Marketplace, the only problem is knowing whenthose purchases happened. The other issue, is there is no bidding process, so a game maybe be horribly underpriced, a good example is Troythe only marketplace sale has been $25. Yet this game is worth a lot more two recent Ebay auctions ended at 94 and 118.

Quote:

Perhaps you would be best served by only purchasing used games that are represented to be complete by a seller with good feedback that seems to know what they are talking about, and then selling the game without having to add 2 or 3 hours of labor. The people most interested in your games are also people familiar with the marketplace here and ebay, hence the reaction to a lot of the pricing.


I've bought games from "trusted sources" that were incomplete. We check every game, and we still occasionally have one slip through our checking process as well. It's rare, but it does happen.
 
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Hilary Hartman
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I have a pretty good idea where you work, and I ended up buying a copy of Magic Realm from you guys. Your listing on it was "Very Good." I paid around $98 before shipping.

The game was actually closer to "Mint" and was unpunched. The spells and other cards still had to be pulled apart, too. The box had nary a ding or dent.

Top service all around.

thumbsup

Except for the postage! I live two counties to the north and still had to pay out the wazoo for shipping.

Now, how about letting me know when you get a "Very Good" copy of Tales of the Arabian Nights, huh?

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suPUR DUEper
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Great article; I always love hearing how the real world works!
 
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Ed Bryan
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puck4604 wrote:


Now, how about letting me know when you get a "Very Good" copy of Tales of the Arabian Nights, huh?



We've been trying to get one for quite awhile. Extremely tough to get! You can have an email sent to you the moment it goes into stock. Just click on the email option on the listing. I'm going to try and get some more German editions, but no promises.
 
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Robert Wesley
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wow...I feel BAD towards you folks for bringing this UP here, but I recently obtained this "game" here Seven Days Battles from the excellent folks here: http://www.titangames.com/ and yes, I'm gladly "shilling" for them as much as I can now! It was a paltry $25 including "shipping", while since there were ONLY 1400 in total ever produced, then it is also quite RARE indeed. ah well, the BEST of "luck" for you guys then on something else down the road eh?
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James Ludlow
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puck4604 wrote:
I have a pretty good idea where you work


He states "Troll & Toad" in his profile.

As for their prices, I have no issue with them. If they are too high, the market will put them out of business. It's not like this is even remotely a monopoly.

 
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Hilary Hartman
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jdludlow wrote:
puck4604 wrote:
I have a pretty good idea where you work


He states "Troll & Toad" in his profile.

As for their prices, I have no issue with them. If they are too high, the market will put them out of business. It's not like this is even remotely a monopoly.


Silly.

I know where he works, but he did a fine job of not saying their name in his original post. Probably because T&T gets universally slammed around here...

 
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Mark Farr
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Troll & Toad have been very good to me with the 3 purchases I have made and I am sure I will be purchasing from them again.

The postage is fairly high, but I can live with that. I have investigated a few online retailers and it could be a lot worse. ThoughtHammer want to charge me $39.85 (Priority Mail) or $51.85 (Express Mail) for shipping one copy of Mystery Rummy - Jekyll & Hyde. I got it from another seller in the US for just $8 shipping and it arrived in a week! Perhaps ThoughtHammer target the US and don't really give much thought to foreign orders, but I have ordered enough from the US to know that those shipping charges are "extreme". Postage, not item price, is usually the decider for me, as it has far more of an impact on the total cost (Mystery Rummy cost between $8 and $9 from both sellers).

I feel a little foolish chipping in like this, as I know that for the majority of people here on BGG my situation is irrelevant. I cannot help but appreciate that online retailers make it possible for me to get many games I simply could not get otherwise, barring the rather ridiculous option of flying overseas myself, or finding someone to buy them and forward them to me (which would really be an online retailer anyway). I'm not just "going against the grain" for the sake of it. I need these guys!

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Jonathan Franklin
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Ed,

Great job reinvigorating the department in which you work. I hope they appreciate all you have done.

Could you let us know how effective ebay has been as a conduit for selling new and/or used games, as opposed to sales that come through the website? You appear to have more of a presence on ebay than many other online vendors.
 
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Adam D.
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Based on your post I checked out the store. You say you get your prices from ebay? Based on what, the highest ever recorded? I just purchased an ebay copy of a game for a third the price you had listed. I started looking around, and your OOP games are crazy priced compared to what I've seen.

You might want to look at updating whatever software you use to track prices... OTOH, you might not, since people are obviously paying them
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David Me
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Edbryan wrote:
So I work at one of those terrible online retailers that are ruining the industry.


Has anyone ever accused YOUR shop of "ruining the industry"? That's usually reserved for shops that sell at deep discounts.

One problem might be that those who don't wish to wait for a rare OOP to pop up on eBay just go ahead and shop with you, but obviously wouldn't want to come here and defend your prices because it might make them seem like impatient fools with too much money.

But some of us cheapskates with too many games to while away the hours while we wait for that copy of Mayfair CE or Krakatoa to appear for half the going rate can happily come here and bash your evil, capitalist ways.

If you ever want to pay for your sins, just mail me an indulgence in the form of a copy of Das Wasser Des Lebens.
 
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Antonio Chavez
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Tobold wrote:
I got it from another seller in the US for just $8 shipping and it arrived in a week!


Hey, could you tell us where? As another international buyer, I'd love to find a good store that can ship cheaply to my country.

Thanks.
 
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Mark Farr
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Hi Antonio,

It was from an eBay seller in the US with the username of abhill_usaor.
They (I believe they are an elderly couple) don't have a lot of stock, but they are very nice to deal with. I purchase most often from these types of sellers (individuals or those with small stores), but I have no problem with Troll & Toad or other "big" sellers if I want something. I must be one of those "impatient fools with too much money", but I am very comfortable with that.

Don't be reluctant to try "lesser known" sellers. I have ordered games from the USA, Canada, UK, Germany and Australia and I have had no bad experiences. I have had parcels go missing, but through no fault of the seller (postal theft on this side), and thankfully never one that contained a boardgame (so far). Good luck finding your games!

Edit: added URL for eBay user and spelling.

 
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Ed Bryan
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davidme wrote:
Edbryan wrote:
So I work at one of those terrible online retailers that are ruining the industry.


Has anyone ever accused YOUR shop of "ruining the industry"? That's usually reserved for shops that sell at deep discounts.


Yes they have, our inprint items are price extremely competitively.
davidme wrote:

One problem might be that those who don't wish to wait for a rare OOP to pop up on eBay just go ahead and shop with you, but obviously wouldn't want to come here and defend your prices because it might make them seem like impatient fools with too much money.

But some of us cheapskates with too many games to while away the hours while we wait for that copy of Mayfair CE or Krakatoa to appear for half the going rate can happily come here and bash your evil, capitalist ways.

If you ever want to pay for your sins, just mail me an indulgence in the form of a copy of Das Wasser Des Lebens.


Once I feel my sins are worthy of indulgences I'll let you know.
 
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Ed Bryan
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grandslam wrote:
Ed,

Great job reinvigorating the department in which you work. I hope they appreciate all you have done.

Could you let us know how effective ebay has been as a conduit for selling new and/or used games, as opposed to sales that come through the website? You appear to have more of a presence on ebay than many other online vendors.


Jury is still out on whether ebay is good for us or not. We've only been doing ebay for about a year. One of the problems with ebay is we have to pay more for items listed on ebay, so that is passed on. a copy of a $20 game on ebay maybe 23 or so.
 
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