On Monday we had another great discussion at Twitter.
#boardgamehour was dedicated to brick vs on-line stores. As my Merry runs a brick and mortar game store I was very eager to see what the answers will be. So partly from what people said on Twitter, partly from my wife’s experience here is my short guide to how-to run a good brick and mortar game store!
1. ‘I think the most important thing is to have unbelievably, over the top, awesome customer service. Know your product.’
Look. If customer is on-line, he just clicks a link and in a minute he has access to photos of the game, videos with unboxing of the game, with links to reviews, links to video reviews, ranks on BGG… He has everything. Do you want to compete with this?
Sir, you compete with the internet. You better be fucking qualified.
My Merry plays every new release that there is. When she orders new games for game store, she always order 1 more box and she opens it. She brings it home. We play it. If we have no time, she at least watches video reviews on YouTube and try to gather as much data as possible. But playing is always best. Then this open box is ready for customers at store. They can open the box, see components, decide whatever it is something good for them or not.
If you run game store, games are no longer your hobby. Games are your job. And it’s your job to be qualified. It is your job to know new releases. It is your job to provide awesome customer service, show the product, let customer touch it, tell him how it plays.
2. ‘We often get praise 4 being clean, which I find hilarious, but it seems to be 1 thing to set us apart.’
I work in this industry since 1999. I do remember all those old-school game stores, hidden in the dark allays, basements, with kids trading MtG cards, teenagers buying singles for horrible prices, students playing RPG sessions in the back…
Hey, it’s 2014.
We had board games revolution if you notice. Your game store shouldn’t be located in the dark alley anymore. It should be bright. It should have clean flooring. It should be friendly for casual people who accidentally step in. They should be able to buy Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan and willing to come back…
They should not be afraid to meet nerdy teenager who offers them singles for Magic. Clean and bright. As if you went to an apple store.
3. ‘I think you work on building community/loyal gamers and the profit comes naturally.‘
Many gamers who were invited in the discussion where mentioning that. This is so much important. Building community. Promoting the hobby in the city.
Merry tries to organize game nights. With me she also organizes Pionek con, local board games convention that is held 4 times a year in the city. First edition few years ago had 20 attendants. Last one, two months ago had 600+ attendants. Step by step this event was growing and growing and people in our city were more and more aware of board games hobby. This is how you build local community. This is how you find loyal customers.
Merry also records podcast every week. We talk for an hour about new games, we review games, we present our Top5 in different categories. This is how we try to help her customers find themselves in this great hobby. This is how she builds loyal customer base. Every week recording for them new episode of podcast and teaching them about games.
This is a hard work. Game nights, events in the city, podcast, it all cost energy and time. But this is how you do. No hard work, no effects.
4. ‘I have bought games because of an event allowing me to play in their space..’
It’s not always easy. You need space, right? More space, more to pay for rent. Merry has a small room in the back. You can not run there a tournament.
With no doubt Merry’s game store would earn more profit if she has more gaming space. If you could visit her with your friends and have a game or two. If you could organize a small tournament.
If you can afford it, don’t think twice. Let people play, let them discover new games, let them have fun at your game store. They will be more likely to spend few bucks at your game store, than on-line. Even if your prices are not that good, as in online game stores.
And talking about money we move to…
5. ‘so its usually like 10% off MSRP, plus another 5% or so because I’m a good customer – he doesn’t have a formal loyalty program, tho’
Basically on-line stores have better prices. Whatever we talk about software industry or clothes or books or games. You always can find on-line place with lower price. It’s hard to compete.
Loyalty programs will help you.
Contest with prices will help you.
Every month lottery will help you.
Unique goodies, promos, signed copies of games will help you.
You can’t compete with price.
So mate, you better do your best to win at all other bases.
Thank you for reading. I do appreciate your feedback. I promise, Merry will read your comments very carefully… 😉