European Distributor

We have now created an account with a European Distributor based in Germany and are looking at doing some European imports of some board games.  This is, obviously, a test run and this might be our only attempt at this depending on costs and final pricing.  We’re looking at putting together an order between $1,000 – 2,000 as anything less is not going to be worth it.

On that note, are there any specific European games not currently available in the USA that you would like brought in?

Small Publisher Contest

Well, the first month for the small publisher contest is up.  We decided to go with Reiver Games since we thoroughly enjoy the blog and think both Carpe Astra and It’s Alive should get more air time.

Please post your submissions here for the contest.  The winner will be announced in the June newsletter.

Look forward to reading some great submissions.

Pre-order games update

Just an update about some popular pre-orders:

  • Le Havre just arrived at our distributor.  With some luck, it’ll arrive this week. If not, it will be next week
  • Eve Conquests has arrived at our distributors location and is on this weeks shipment
  • Dominion and Stone Age shipped to our distributors only this week, so we are expecting it to arrive mid-next week now.
  • Small World‘s release date is April 22, 2009 in retail stores.  Not certain if they actually expect to get the games to us in time though, but expect it in very soon afterwards

Shipping, Order & Return Policies update

We just changed our shipping, order & return policies page.  The main alteration (beyond clarification and design changes) has been to introduce information and explicitly state a new pre-order policy.

Our pre-order policy has been to hold shipping of an order till all products in an order are available to ship unless otherwise requested by a customer.  We are going to continue with this policy at the moment, as customers seem to prefer this method as they may then take advantage of the free shipping policies and ‘banking’ or ‘holding’ various board games for themselves.

However, we have introduced charges for all in-stock games for orders that will not ship for over a month. To clarify, if your order will ship in 2 weeks, you will not be charged until we actually ship the entire order. However, if your order is expected to ship in 6 weeks, we will charge you for any in-stock games that might be on your order.

The reason for this change has been to reduce our holding costs for pre-orders.  When a customer places a $400 order with only one $20 product on pre-order, we are forced to ‘hold’ all $380 of in-stock product aside for him till the order ships.  If this order ships within a month, this is not an issue.  If the pre-order is for 6  months away (its happened), this is a very large quantity of product held aside.  Especially when multiplied over 20-30 customers.

However, I’m not entirely satisfied this is the best option so far.  Other options available at other game stores include:

  • shipping the in-stock product immediately and charging additional shipping for the pre-ordered games when they are available
  • charging for the full amount immediately
  • not taking any pre-orders at all

I’m still considering if there are other options available, and if so, will they meet our business requirements as well as customer service requirements.  If you have any ideas or suggestions, do offer them.  We’d be grateful to hear from you on this.

Stargate Con Report

Conventions have been, in our limited experience, relatively good in generating additional revenue as well as allowing us to meet and advertise ourselves to our potential market.  The Stargate Convention was considered to be a potential new con to do, and since  it was in Vancouver and thus close, we decided to give it a go.  The cost of hosting a table was about average for such an event, and with it being close enough to drive to, our shipping cost was quite limited.  The only real ‘cost’ was the 4 days that we would have to be there.

Initial impressions
We really should have taken notice of the first signs when the lack of co-ordination with us as vendors occurred.  We were provided no follow up information on timing on the con, no confirmation of our table location or the schedule for the days.  We literally had to e-mail them to request information a month before the con and were told to look for the information on the main website.

On the day, when we arrived, we found no vendor liaison, no actual vendor registration and they hadn’t even set-up our table for us.  We literally had to steal a table to get ourselves set-up.  Worst, the timing on the schedule was wrong- they had already opened up the ‘vendors’ room and were letting people in, so we had to set-up around customers.

Lastly, there was no scheduled closing time for the vendor’s room.  It was a case of ‘close up when you want to’.

Tumbleweed Assault
Still, we went ahead. We had paid for the table already, so it didn’t make sense not to go with it.  The next 4 days could be described as a ‘tumbleweed assault’.  While the convention had numerous con-goers, they were very focused on the various tours, photo ops and panels, so every time any programming occurred, we were quiet.  And since there was quite a bit of programming… tumbleweed.

Now, the various lack of sales and lack of interest is just something that we could not reasonably have foreseen.   Not the con’s fault in anyway, nor am I blaming them.  It’s just a fact of business that you’ll make a mistake and just have to learn from it, which in this case is not to do any specific TV series / movie related conventions.    Frankly, I’m glad we did this here and learnt the lesson on a relatively cheap convention.

Making a fuss
We could, possibly even might have come back, with a much more focused line of products for a variety of TV shows (board games, collectible and trading card games, miniatures and figures) but the lack of support  and the fact that it seems we’re just not wanted by the convention organisers is a breaking factor.

Walking in on Sunday (half an hour early too) to find that they had opened up the vendors room to let in the milling hordes was a rather frustrating experience.  In fact (something I learnt only later) they had done this on Friday once before and Alison had told them off.  Not only was all our board games available for anyone with a pair of light fingers to pick-up, they hadn’t even tried to contact us to inform us that this was going to happen.  This rather casual lack of respect for us and basic security is alarming, especially for an organisation that is supposed to do Cons for a living.  Frankly, the fact that you had people watching my table for me when you opened early is not at all comforting.

Lastly, at 5pm on the last day, we had a lady come up to us and inform us that we had not paid for the Con as the authorisation on the card did not go through.   She then said this was why nothing was set-up for us, and pretty much ignored my complaint about the vendor rooms opening early.  Worst, when I then made calls to; first; confirm that we had not been charged via the credit card statements and secondly, that the amount she was quoting was correct, I was accused of ‘making a fuss’.  Now, this was after we had received confirmation via e-mail that we would be contacted if our payment hadn’t gone through from her and secondly, never receiving any indication during our subsequent communication that we had not paid.

In many ways, the Stargate Convention was a great example of ‘how not to have vendors’.  There is certainly no way in hell we are ever going to touch a Creation Con with a 10 foot pole as a vendor and as a lesson to ourselves, we’re going to be much more careful about the type of conventions and the organisers.

Final point – I should note that all the fans had a great time. I’m just making this post from the point of view of a vendor

April Newsletter

2nd Anniversary Party on Sunday, April 19 at Noon

It will be an afternoon of gaming and is an open invitation to both our past, current and future customers to thank you for your support. A silent auction is being held where customers may bring their games to be auctioned off. Also expect additional board games from us to be on the table.

Anniversary Sale
Our Anniversary Sale will start on April 6, 2009 and run till the day of the Anniversary Party, April 19, 2009. We are starting a little later due to the Stargate Convention and wanting to make sure that we actually have stock of on-sale games. Expect to see some major discounts of up to 50%.

Site Updates
We are at the Stargate Convention between April 2 – 5, 2009. As such, additional shipping and stock information is in-play during those dates.

There have been some minor changes to the site. We have altered some of the categories for easier navigation and changed the menu design on the site slightly. Hope you like it.