Here we are gang, 8 years, the little game store that shouldn’t, really.
We started this thing at a time when the board game hobby was just entering puberty. 8 years ago, Ticket to Ride and Catan were not quite household names, but they were getting there. Problem was, game stores hadn’t adapted yet to handle the changing demographics, nearly all stores were unprepared for the influx of ‘muggles’.
We set out to create a different kind of game shop, not better, just different, one that would appeal to anyone interested in games but not quite interested in the other gaming venues. No plastic tables was a big one for us, so we have all wood, even our folding tables are wood, as are all of our permanent chairs. The whole atmosphere of the shop had to be bright and inviting, and we built a tree in the middle to help disarm every guest that entered, to create a subliminal sense of wonder and fancy.
Knowledge was another of our major concerns. Since we wanted to expose a broad audience to hobby board games, we had to know our products and our customers’ interests, and we did, and still do, try very hard to create the perfect marriage between the two. To this end, we curate our collection of modern hobby games, often choosing not to carry products that live too far on the fringe that speak to too small an audience. You won’t find a lot of Anime-themed products in our store, not because we have anything against them, but we have to fine tune to maintain our brand.
So thanks to all of those who like what we do and have supported us during the past 8 years. Every other game store in the city is better than us in many respects, and you could choose to go there instead of visiting us. We have a limited product selection compared to other local stores, our dedicated play space is relatively small, and our hours and location are not conducive to many events that flourish at other stores. These are all factors we cannot really change, so we try to offer exceptional service in a unique environment to offset.
8 years is a long way from the ad hoc start. I guess we’d have to say we’ve been successful since we’re still here. But we’re not breaking the bank here, it’s still largely a pursuit of passion, with a large dose of stubbornness. Costs rise every year, margins do not.
As we move into our 9th year, we have to face a number of growing realities. One large factor affecting our business going forward, and one that has already had a major impact, is Kickstarter. I’ve said a lot in the past about this crowd funding platform in the past, but we can no longer avoid the fact that it is the primary source for those embedded in the hobby. The FOMO effect is too powerful now. Luckily, retailers are being included, but we still have to ask for a customers pity to kickstart through us rather than just go direct.
Couple Kickstarter with the dominance of Amazon and things get even more challenging. Amazon is raising an entire generation that thinks the online price is regular price, thus we appear to be overcharging. We operate in a city that prides itself on local support, but based on the frequency of discount requests, we know what happens behind closed doors.
So it’s nearly needless to say that any growth we have is not in board games, and we are changing our purchasing to adapt. Magic the Gathering, which we never really intended to focus too much on, is now our growth product, and the events we run for the game are our most successful and enjoyable. We will continue to expand that market as much as possible. Jigsaw puzzles have also seen big growth, so we’ll expand that as much as possible also.
Year 9 will be an interesting one for sure, but we’ll keep doing what we love while trying to pay the bills. Thanks again to everyone for their business, we hope we’ve brought some joy to your lives and provided products that please!
Come celebrate our birthday with us this Saturday!