Dan Edelen
United States
Mount Orab
Ohio
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With Borders and Barnes & Noble jumping headfirst into the gaming market, and with their rewards programs and coupons, both chains have become great options to your FLGS when said FLGS is neither F nor L.

What I've not been able to understand, especially since the two companies are chains, is the stock variations between stores.

The closest store to me is a Borders. Its game stock is smaller than other Borders stores in the region, plus the number of BGG faves has increasingly diminished over time. I see more games like Family Guy Monopoly and fewer Cosmic Encounter or Dominion.

On the other hand, the next closest Borders store has more games by number, and more of the type that would thrill BGGers. Its stock is increasingly more Eurogames. I've bought a few games there recently for Christmas and have been pleased, especially as a Rewards member waving a 40%-off coupon.

The closest B&N has a wider range of games than the closest Borders, but even it pales in comparison to a B&N a few miles south of it. That second store had a dozen high, two-sided shelving units (!) packed with games such as Da Vinci, Revolution!, Cosmic Encounter, Alhambra, and Agricola, plus kids games by Haba and Ravensburger. Some smaller FLGS wouldn't have that same number of game titles or total stock.

What I'm not sure I understand is the wide variance in game stock even within the same chain's stores. As I've browsed other Borders and B&Ns, no pattern emerges as to which stores will have which games and in which amounts. For instance, in one other Borders store I saw a pile of Ninja vs. Ninja, which I'd seen nowhere else.

Anyone have any insider knowledge on the patterns of stock within these stores?

Better yet, anyone know how to best deal with buying games from Borders or B&N when the stock variance between stores is so wide?

Any tips for maximizing buying power would be greatly appreciated!
 
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Dan Cain
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Tacoma
Washington
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I can certainly answer this question.

When an item is bought for a chain of stores, most likely it isn't bought with the purpose of going into every store in the chain. Each store has a unique customer base, and the store's inventory reflects that.

Easy example: Stores in NYC will not stock many books on farming and rural living, but a store Nebraska would probably have a decent size selection.

Same goes for game assortment at a particular store. If a store has shown to be decent selling game store, it will get a larger selection to encourage those buyers to buy more. If a store doesn't sell games very well they will most likely get the bare bones assortment of games to fill the fixture that is in their store. During the holidays chains will usually take chances on certain product lines and beef up selection (like games) to try and capture as many sales during a season (i.e. Christmas) when customer's are looking to purchase such items.

Basically it's purchasing by tier. Each line of product could be bought according to it's own tier system. Where Tier 1 would be the best selling stores for that product line, and Tier 10 would be the worst selling stores for that product line.

When a new item is bought for an existing product line it's assortment will be based on those Tiers, plus what the buyer thinks the product can do in sales vs. inventory, and that is how the product is allocated to stores.

Do you purchase games often from the Borders that has the worse selction? If you want to see more games that BGG users would like, you need to do more purchasing.

Just to note, I am not a game's buyer for either Borders, or B&N, I just know how purchasing and allocating for larger retailers generally works. And this seems to be the answer to the question you asked.

I hope it helps.

LA
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Dan Edelen
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lastalchemist wrote:

When a new item is bought for an existing product line it's assortment will be based on those Tiers, plus what the buyer thinks the product can do in sales vs. inventory, and that is how the product is allocated to stores.

Do you purchase games often from the Borders that has the worse selction? If you want to see more games that BGG users would like, you need to do more purchasing.

LA,

As someone who has worked retail for a chain or two, I definitely know what you mean.

However, I can't for the life of me explain the game stock distinctions in these stores. It doesn't seem to follow any demographic understanding I could surmise based on where these stores are situated.

For B&N, two of them are in similar upscale neighborhoods, yet one has three times the game titles and inventory as the other. And the stores are about the same size.

The "buy it and they'll stock more" formula doesn't seem to work, either—at least from my observations. For instance, the Borders nearest me blew through a pile of Space Hulk Death Angel recently, but I was told no more are coming in to that store. Likewise, Forbidden Island sold out quickly at my local Borders, yet it's been a couple months now and stock hasn't been replenished. As to Death Angel, I didn't see it at any other regional Borders, while all the others are still carrying Forbidden Island. Seems haphazard to me.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback.
 
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Chad Egbert
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I have wonder about this as well. There are many B&Ns in the Twin City area and even those have different game inventories, especially during the annual winter clearance sale.
 
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Jason Farris
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My wife works for Barnes and Noble, and what was said above is roughly accurate. I know B&N has tiered stores and some get more games than others because of the tier they are in (which has to do with sales volume).

Also, your stocking disparity may be changing. B&N is really pushing more things than books now. With the whole e-book thing they are changing their in-store model. You will see more games, children's toys and things like that than ever before. So it may be that not all the B&N's are stocked up yet.

It may not make sense to you, but sales do drive what is carried in each store.
 
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Dan Edelen
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Smilinbrax wrote:
It may not make sense to you, but sales do drive what is carried in each store.


What can explain two equally vast B&Ns situated near upscale shopping centers in equally tony parts of town, one B&N with three times the amount of games of the other? (And the one that has fewer games is actually the newer, hipper store, and seems to have more traffic?)

I've got to believe both stores are the same tier. I've been in different-sized B&Ns, and these are easily the two largest in town. How they could be in different tiers and have vastly different sales figures is beyond me.

Does B&N give its store managers the power to dictate direction for a store based on thinking like "Games would be big in my store; so, send me every SKU we carry"?

As to Borders, the one near me is about half the size of the next closest one. Mine has about half the games of the other store. What's weirder is that the games in my store are more along the lines of Scene-It and Family Guy Monopoly, while the other store is more Magic Labyrinth and Settlers of Catan.

The Borders disparities at least makes some sense, as the farther store is in an upscale shopping plaza. B&N's randomness can't be as easily explained.
 
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