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Subject: You too, can make millions selling games! rss

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I though the recent journal about game stores was interesting. So interesting that I decided to do my own entry and assure all the Geeks out there who really, really want to own their own business that Bricks & Mortar retailing is a fine way to go.

But before I start, I think I'll cover several comments from the previous journal entry. I'm not going to mention any names because when I do people tend to get all sensitive and pissy and start calling me names... and my tender ego is already weakened.

We'll start with this yahoo:

Therefore, the taxes I would have paid go towards shipping. Much prefer to support any shipping company (and I work for purple and orange) over any worthless state/city/county government any day!

This comment is so devoid of any real understanding of how the world works that I put it in here for comic relief. The only times I have ever heard commentary that was more dense than this was when listening to recent MBA attainies "telling it like it is!"

Then there was this brainiac:

I've looked at the data for opening a B&M game store and its not a viable business to start with no matter how you run the numbers.

I'm certain the data he looked at is unimpeachable. Too bad me and about 2,000 other people didn't check that book out from the library. Of course I never ran the numbers, I just ran the business.

A ray of hope appears:

If anything, I would be surprised if Funagain, Fairplay, Boulder, Time Well Spent, Thoughthammer, and Gamessurplus all exist in five years.

I have said similar things myself. I'm not sure this is really what will happen, but if you are planning on opening a store I'd view any discount operation as an immediate concern, but not a long-term one.

Then there's this, another thoughtful Geek:

Form a buying group and approach the manufactuers of games and get discounts

That's what distributors are, buying groups. This Geek may be thinking co-op instead. That's been tried, but in most cases you're dealing with egomaniacs and men and women who suffer from ADD, Type A personality disorder, small penis dysfunction, Napoleon Complex and a myriad of other emotional ailments that drive a lost soul to the tragic decision of "being my own boss." It's very hard to cooperate with people who are independent. And I can prove it if you want.

HOW TO OPEN A GAME STORE

1. Get $50,000
2. Contact GAMA for trade references
3. Spend copious amounts of time assessing leases, purchases, telephony need, fixtures, insurance, advertising, utility costs, minimum stock levels, location-location-location, attorney fees, partneship legalities, accountants, banking needs, credit card services, lines of credit, OSHA laws, Fair Labor Laws, inventory shrinkage, employee training, signage....... etc.

HOW TO OPEN A GAME STORE - PART TWO

1. Get another $50,000
2. Now, open your store and ignore the daily threads on BGG where one inane comment after another tells the same frickin' story about saving $20, or not having to talk to a clerk who just farted, or any of the several hundred ways Geeks have said "Look at me! Look at me! I saved $$$."

If you don't ingnore anti-community commmentary like this you will be depressed and end up deluded into thinking that the same 30 or 40 Geeks who save $20 and then bleat endlessly about it are somehow representative of the world economy and more specificially, to your chances of success.

And the final thing you need to know?

3. Show up. On time. Every day. No excuses.








 
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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Inventory shrinkage? What's that? Do you mean stuff that just goes missing?
 
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shrinkage
Inventory shrinkage is a catch-all. Theft, damaged goods, things of that nature. I'd have to check with my accountant but the IRS in America allows a set amount as a deduction... 4%, I think. That would be 4% of the total inventory.
 
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Dwayne Hendrickson
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I'm looking at picking up a game. I called my local place and they have it for $19.40 + 8.375% tax making a total of $21.02.

Or I can pick up a shrinkwrapped copy on ebay for 11.99 + 4.20 for shipping making a total of 16.19.

The difference in price is $4.83. For $5 more I get to support a local store. To me, that price is worth it. I'm supporting a store that gives me a place to play (plus so much more) and I'm helping a local economy (as well as a local government that I DO get some benefit from).

Now granted, I am paying 29.8% more, but realistically, it's only $5.
 
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Jim Baker
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Local.
I prefer to support my local store. That is where new people get turned on to gaming.It's where I get to touch, feel, and smell the new games. It's where you get to meet other local Gamers. The few dollars more don't matter.
( There are always the periodic sales if thats important.)
 
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A Derk appears from the mists...
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My goodness...
Why are you so pissed off, Trippy? I've known a whole lotta game stores in my days, and I've known a whole lotta game store owners in my days, and I don't think I've ever met one that did it for anything other than the love of games. The important thing about brick and mortar game stores is that most fail and people should be aware of it to begin with. I'm not saying that it's impossible, but it's definitely a tricky business proposition. And very likely one that won't make you rich... In fact, it will very likely make you poor.
 
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Jesse Shaver
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To be honest, the few bucks saved on most purchases don't bug me. The problem I have is a lack of stores I really want to support. The only store in New York City that I've been able to find which has any reasonable selection of board games, and a place to play, also charges a significant markup on most of their stock. Which is to say, they're not asking me to forgo the 30-35% discount I could find online, they're asking me to do that and then pay a 10-20% surplus over MSRP.

That just ticks me off.

I understand that boardgames are a low-volume, low-margin product. Their specialty is CCGs and RPGs, and probably for good reason. But they don't seem to grasp that by raising their prices even above that of their (theoretical) competition, they're probably alienating more than a few customers.
 
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Derk & Chris
I'm not actually pissed off Derk. I do think it's worthwhile to sometimes have journal entries that shine a little light on the foundation of the game publishing industry - physical retail stores.

You are correct that owning a game store is tough. But that's not exclusive to this particular business. Starting any business is tough and I disagree with context, "most fail". The poorly conceived, poorly run stores fail. Chris said he spoke to the SBA... well, the failure rate on any small business, depending on who's numbers you want to buy into, runs about 80-90% in the first several years. That's any business, including internet game discounters.

Sorry I pissed you off Chris, but frankly, statements that dissuade people from creating a more thriving economy, especially when made as a generality, need to be highlighted. It's not what you think, it's just my nature.

As for wishing me success... I've already had that, along with at least several hundred other retailers I have known for decades. My business is 22 years old and I have sold millions of dollars worth of games. No, I'm not rich. But Derk is right about one thing, I have never met any game store owner, internet discount site owner, publsiher or other professional in this industry who was here for any reason other than loving games.

A few did get rich. Just not many.
 
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The Real and Only
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Buying Group
When I mentioned the Buying group remark, I was comparing the independant game store business to the independant pharmacy business.

Some independant pharmacies were forced to unite together and use their numbers to get the manufacters to cut them some deals on high volume drugs.

They cut the distributor out of the picture.

I did not suggest that this was possible in the gaming industry, I only wondered if it was a possibility.

In my area the only stores that sell games are comic book stores. They have a poor selection. They are also 30 percent overpriced on what they do have.

I can save 8-15 dollars by going online and that includes shipping.

 
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Gerald McDaniel
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Tripp -- You always get my attention. You did the usual excellent job here. Your description of many of the key issues a new business owner has to consider upfront was great. A small group of my co-workers and I did some preliminary planning for setting up a consultant business and taking early retirement from our employment to do it. A few meetings and a lot of research made it clear to us that we could hold off a few more years and retire outright, without having to deal with starting a business. I'm glad I did, too. Nothing beats retirement without time schedules, meetings, bosses, employees to supervise, the jerks I sometimes had to deal with, laws, regulations, policies, etc. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the job I retired from, in spite of all those things, I haven't missed the stress at all.....
 
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Mark Haberman
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HEY, I HAVE ADD!!


...and small penis dysfunction
 
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Sorry I pissed you off Chris

I'm sure you'll get over it.


Actually Chris, I was just being social. Of course I'm not sorry. Neither are most people who say "I'm sorry", whether online or in person. It's just a social convention, one of many that makes us civilized and keeps us from raiding our neighbor's house and stealing his daughters and freezer contents.

If I hadn't sworn off the use of emoticons a week or two back I'd probably have put one here so you would have a subtle message as to whether I'm serious, sarcastic or just attempting humor.
 
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Mark Haberman
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And if you don't use the extra amenities that a local store provides, why on earth would you spend more money to buy from them?
 
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John Burt
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I take back everything bad I ever said about you DWTripp.

Yeah I know you don't care.

Smart commentary and I agree completely, I do purchase from small game stores (and online and ebay) because I want there to be a store to turn new players on to games (other then computer ones).

I also know the pain of having a store fail on you, it only cost me 40K to have the store fail, of course that was pre internet, or at least pre MTG.

A friend of mine owns a game store in Saskatoon, he was one of my best customers and he knows how my business went. His is more successful then mine ever was (for assorted reasons) but I think he may be more expensive then online, but he also contributes to gaming conventions, creates gaming leagues (in store) and in general, contributes to the overall health of the board game industry.

Do online stores do that, yes, but in a different way, and they do not help grassroots growth which is what games need.

Xlyce, now a Tripplite
 
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A Derk appears from the mists...
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Because brick and mortar stores are the way that most people incidentally find 'games that don't suck.' And supporting B&M stores is supporting the hobby as a whole. Generally speaking, I prefer to buy from a respectable B&M store, if I can.
 
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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As a former small town retail manager driven out of business
by the Wal-Marts and our OWN suppliers factory outlet stores and currently a straight commission business to business sales rep who competes with the Best Buys/Office depots etc and in some cases our OWN suppliers on-line stores on the low end office equipment...where over half the activity is...and American business's mostly self-inflicted sucking chest wound that all most customers really want is a low price leading to the notion that as a consumer we are ENTITLED TO THE LOWEST PRICE AND THE BEST QUALITY AND THE BEST SERVICE[i]...(provided by an under-trained under-paid sales staff since the big players have to cut costs somewhere...i]

...I could go on but f*** it, I'm going home now.


Happy Thanksgiving, Tripp. Have good season at the game store and make a dollar or two while your at it.

 
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Peter Robinson
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Here is a real success story, in Calgary Canada:

http://www.sentrybox.com/

With over 13,000 sq. ft. of display and gaming space, the Sentry Box is a Mecca for those interested in fantasy, science fiction, or military games, books and miniatures.

I remember 20 years ago when this store was in a tiny spot beside a tatoo parlor. Now it is the largest gaming store in Western Canada, possibly all of Canada.
 
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Rob Rob
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Store vs. Site
Can't speak for others but I have three ways I purchase games, each depending on the type of game and situation. There are two game stores here in San Diego. Both have open gaming rooms in the back. Any night of the week these rooms are jam-packed with what is basically a captured audience for miniatures, RPGs and boardgames. If at a game club meeting I play a really fun game for the first time, I am sure to buy it that night from the storer. New games I have researched on the BGG that haven't reached the local stores are the games I am more likely to order over the web. For old or OOP games I tend to go to eBay.

I'm no MBA but I think it would be foolish for a bricks & mortar store to try and emulate a web-based business plan. If I owned a retail store (thank God I don't) I'd try and play up my strong points - knowledge, customer service, "try it before you buy it", instant satisfaction and atmosphere. Heck, how do you think those warehouse bookstores can compete with Amazon.com when the mom & pop stores failed? Nice music, comfy chairs and coffee bars.
 
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Nate Sandall
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Well one thing about geeks on boardgamegeek that ya gotta realize is that a large majority of us are bargain hunters. I hesitate to call us cheap bastards, but it's a pretty apt description. I'm guilty of this too!

In every industry you get the rate and fee shoppers. I used to work for a large regional bank. People would call EVERY DAY asking what our CD rates were for whatever dollar amount they had. Of course smaller banks and credit unions could beat the big bank's rates almost every time without even trying. And even when we did manage to get someone in with a good rate well they were gone somewhere else the very day the CD matured. As you can imagine these are not the most profitable customers.

But where the bank I worked for really stood out is in the convenience, variety of services offered, and service. The customers you build relationships with are the ones who end up getting 8 or 9 different accounts. These are your bread and butter.

A brick and mortar game store owner is really no different. You develop a face to face relationship with your best customers and take care of them. The bargain hunters like to come in and see and touch the games that they've been (we've been!) researching but ultimately the profit lies in the regular customer who comes back not for the price but for the service! Think gamessurplus.com can teach you how to play the games? So much more goes into running a business than an item and a price.

I wish you continued good luck with your business Tripp!
 
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Jae
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The next time I'm in Idaho, I'm planning a trip to your store.
 
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Chris Keller
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Both sides
I've been on both sides of this issue and so much depends on so many factors that it's hard to come down firmly on either side.

Having said that, as a general rule, it's tough to make it as a B&M store. Not that you can't, but the failure rate has to be high. The saturation of games by all the major Stores (WalMart, Target's, etc) and the cheap, cheap prices they bring with them almost assures a bumpy ride.

Yeah, someone's going to say that a specialty, local store has it's own set of customers unique to it, but the "pool" of those customers is smaller. And the loss of one or more of those customers (they outgrow games, they get married, they move, etc) has a more far-reaching impact for the small guy.

Personally, I believe the way for any small dealer to make it, without the help of $100K to get them off the ground, is through the 'Net ... no ifs, ands or buts about it.
 
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Morgan Dontanville
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When it comes to games I'm a swing voter. We've had a ton of conversations about this, you and I, but I have to lay it to you straight. I put my wishlist on ebay, it shops for me and I set my own price. There are enough games out there that I want that I can wait for the deal to come along. Invariably, it does.

I live in NYC and there are a whole TWO stores to choose from (hard to believe how few options there are for the second largest Metropolitan Area in the world). On top of that one of them specializes more in Magic and D&D more than boadgames (one of the saddest inventories concievable). The other store while having a decent selection rarely has the games that I want as an impulse buy. In fact, they know me there, and I go out of my way to tell them what games I want. They have yet to bother tracking anything down for me. Nice enough guys, nice enough store, but they just don't carry what I'm most interested in. As an encouragement to keep the store running (and to feed my addiction) I'll usually pick something up, but more times than not it is a compromise buy. Something I'd been curious about, or perhaps wanted to buy for a while but didn't get around to it.

Where does this leave me when I can get a number of the games that I want at an online retailer for the same price as one of my compromise buys? Frankly, as an active buyer, I'm thankful that there are online retailers, otherwise where would I get 9/10ths of the games that I want?

By the way, don't knock the idea of cutting out the middle man, just because your pride gets in the way (although it is good that you own up to the fact that the shortcoming is your own).
 
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Jon M
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I shop online because my local game store is an hours drive and a nightmare to park away. Even then there's no guarantee what it will hold. I only go there if I am there for another reason.

The basic economics of boardgaming seem to me that it is too specialist in the UK for a B&M store to rely on. It either needs passer by mainstream games and puzzles or CCGs, miniatures and RPGs to make money. These are the volume items with repeat buyers. An average board game buyer will buy so little that it takes a large number of buyers to keep a store afloat. This then requires a huge catchment area which makes travelling to the store a pain. This then makes online even more attractive (as P&P is offset by transport costs). Therefore a purely board game shop will die on it's arse as the catchment area it needs is too large (as people won't travel). The business model has to be CCGs, minatures and RPGs with some board games in stock or available to order. The stock is mostly impulse buy attractive games - i.e. cheap card games or nice shiny bits (like WoTR). I presume board game sales are a bonus to the meat and drink of CCGs, miniatures and RPGs.

To look at how to make money look at Games Workshop. They sell minatures to teenagers. They have locations off the high street so their rents are low as they know these kids come specially to their store and are not passing drop in trade. They have many small items for impulse buying (i.e. single figures, small packs, etc) to part kids from their pocket money. Enough teenagers * £5 a week = happy company.
 
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Mark Haberman
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I think that people who aren't already interested in the hobby, aren't going to set foot in a b&m store to begin with. I think the only way that the hobby will grow is through word of mouth, and showing the games to friends and family.

I'm not going to spend $20 extra on a game if I don't have to. The only thing I need to support is my family.


 
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Mark Haberman
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I can understand supporting them if you use the extra services provided, such as learning games, or tournaments or such.

For instance, I shop at my neighborhood hardware store even though it's a tad bit more expensive (not %40 though!) because I know the guy, and he helps me out.

The fact is I don't use any of those, and I don't need them. I shouldn't be made to feel guilty because I don't want to hand over my hard earned cash to someone so they can stay in business.

 
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