New & restocked board games – January 27, 2010

New Board Games
Campaign Manager 2008
Container 2: Second Shipment
Mattel: UNO MOD Card Game
Republic of Rome
Terra Prime

Restocked Board Games
Age of Empires III
Apples to Apples Party Game
Arkham Horror: Dunwich Horror
Battlestar Galactica Board Game
Battlestar Galactica Pegasus Expansion
Carson City
Citadels Card Game
Day & Night
Drakon 3rd Edition
Power Grid
Ricochet Robots
Runebound The Frozen Wastes
Tales of the Arabian Nights
Thurn & Taxis
World Without End
Zombies! 3 Mall Walkers 2nd Ed
Zombies!!! 2 (2nd Edition)
Zombies!!! 6 : Six Feet Under

The Optimum Price of a Board Game

Over the last few years, we’ve sold a lot of board games.  And after ordering, packing, shipping, re-ordering and the like, we’ve noticed a trend in what games will sell and at what price.  This is obviously our own opinion, though it is mildly backed up by data.

To start with, the average price of our board games sold is $29.53.

In addition, it seems that the optimum price for a card game is in the range of $15 to $25.  Outside of that, and sales are generally pretty low.

As for board games, it seems to sit between $30 -$40.   Much over that, and sales drop-off considerably.  It’s fair to say that while FFG Big Box board games sell well, they generally do so in much lower quantities than most Euro games.  That could, of course, be a factor of the market too.  However, most Ameritrash games seem to be able to ‘handle’ a higher price point than most Eurogames, perhaps because of the expected higher production values of those games.

Of course, there are exceptions.  Small World and Ticket to Ride are DOW products that are consistently higher as is Agricola. Most of these exceptions  seem to come from games that have generated a high level of demand already.  Most board games that start out at significantly different price point generally don’t sell that well.

What does it mean for us?  When pre-ordering, one of the things we check out is the price point and theme.  A significantly different price point generally means we keep our pre-orders significantly lower than normal since we expect that sales will be low as well.  And of course, vice versa.

Work-Life Balance

It’s now over three years since Alison and I discussed launching the store.  Since then, the concept of a balance between work and life has been somewhat lacking, which has occasionally lent to burn-out.  Not surprising, for either point, when you’re an entrepreneur.

In the first few years, I worked full-time and had to research and then set-up / manage the store.  That meant between 40 – 50 hours of work on-top of my job.  Mostly, that meant working during lunch hour and into 1 or 2am when I got home.  On good days, I’d be in bed by midnight.  On Saturdays, I generally spent the entire day working, with Sunday taking a half-day off for gaming.  Other than fencing, work and occasional gaming was the life.

Ever since I went full-time, this has  altered somewhat.  Now it’s just 60 hours a week, with some time for other things including the wife.  Which is good, but it’s still a lot of hours.  And some weeks, that easily pushes 80.  Mostly when I get bored.

Why so many hours?

Numerous reasons, partially because I really am a workaholic.  Also, the lack of a barrier between work and home makes it all too easy to start working when I’m bored.  And lastly, it’s been the constant need to grow the business recently.  so that I can actually pay myself a decent salary.

That’s now accomplished, for the most part.  The work hasn’t stopped however, since I’m not content to just let it be – improving and growing the business is a constant drive, and that means putting in more hours.  Eventually that’ll mean having to hire someone, but there’s so many other things I have to balance first that that will have to wait a few more months.

How Do Online Retailers Survive?

A while ago, I was asked a couples of questions on a different forum:

How can an online retailer manage to compete in such a tight market? …So how do you rise above the crowd? Or is the market large enough that it supports all these retailers comfortably?

I promised to answer them once I had some time and did so on that site. So I thought I’d rewrite the answers for the blog to deal with the questions.

Let’s begin with the last question first – is the market big enough to let us all survive comfortably?

That’s a very difficult question to answer, simply because no one has an idea about how big of an industry we actually are. And when mentioning industry, I’m discussing gaming as a whole – there’s just no reliable statistics out there. I’ve seen numbers fly around, but none of those numbers are at all reliable. So if we don’t even know the general idea of the industry, there’s no way I can discuss a smaller slice of the pie – the online game retail industry.

That by the way is also why I don’t get into discussions about market share and the impact of online / b&m stores. Without actual, reliable numbers for the industry, it’s all opinions.

It is simple enough to state that the industry is large enough to support at least 3 to 4 stores. That’s the number of both Canadian and American board game stores that seem to have survived at least 5 years. It’s what given me hope that we can, eventually, carve a niche for ourselves.

The other part of the question is just as difficult to quantify – comfortably. What is comfortably? How many are full-time online retailers and how many are part-time? Again, we come back to the lack of data issue here, but I suspect that a good percentage of online sellers aren’t working full time as an online retailer. That includes both individuals who have a full-time job elsewhere (yes, I’m looking at you eBayers) and b&m stores supplementing their store income via an online store.

The biggest problem (if you’ll call it that) with the Internet is how cheap it is to set-up and run a business. Since owning a game store is an avocation – a wish by many – it might not even matter if the business is losing money when it’s only $500 a year.

That of course makes the first and second question much more important to solve.

For the first question, the generic answer would be to create a marketing plan that works. Look at all 4P’s, review where you and your competitors are and figure out, most importantly, what is your competitive advantage. Then exploit that to the fullest extent.

The second answer almost assumes that there is only one market and one ‘crowd of competitors’. If you go with a different marketing mix; as FunAgain did, you’re competing in a different market for different customers.

If you do go for the alpha gamers; it’s worthwhile knowing that it’s very, very hard to ‘steal’ customers. There’s just too little difference in most cases to make it worthwhile for customers to change their routine once they have a good retailer. Occasionally, it might work for an order or two but the cost of doing so is really high. A good example of that is the current ZMan special we’re running. Even with a really low price point; and the best deals in Canada for it, we’re still generating very low interest outside of our regular customer base.

As such you really have to develop your own customer base. To do that, you’ll need deep pockets and a lot of patience. Standing out of the crowd then seems to be a matter of lasting long enough to actually build the customer base to keep you afloat.

Game Store Restock – Jan 21, 2010

New Board Games
Dungeon Lords
Last Night on Earth: Hero Pack 1
Last Night on Earth: Survival of the Fittest Expansion
Last Night on Earth: Zombies with Grave Weapons Mini Set

Restocked Board Games
Blue Moon City
Fast Flowing Forest Fellers
Okko Expansion
Pillars of the Earth Expansion
Primordial Soup Freshly Spiced
Runebound – Shadow Walker Class Deck
Runebound – Runemaster Class Deck
Runebound – The Scepter of Kyros
Runebound – Quest of the Seven Scions
Say Anything
Warhammer: Invasion LCG Path of the Zealot Board Game

New & restocked board games – January 19, 2010

New Board Games
Pillars of the Earth: Builder’s Duel

Restocked Board Games
BattleStar Galactica Pegasus Expansion
Battlestar Galactica Board Game
Bridge Troll
Dominion: Intrigue
Parcheesi Royal Edition
Pocket Rockets
Settlers of Catan (07)
Settlers of Catan 5&6 Exp (07)
Stone Age
Traders and Barbarians of Catan 5 & 6 player expansion
Wits & Wagers 2nd Edition

Game Store Restock – January 16, 2009

New Board Games
At the Gates of Loyang
Carcassonne the River 1
Giro d’Italia
Giro d’Italia Card Game
Infinite City
Scattergories Bible Ed
Stoner Fluxx

Restocked Board Games
Apples to Apples Party Box
Apples to Apples Party Expansion
Bang! The Bullet
Blue Moon : Buka Invasion Expansion Pack
Blue Moon: Mimix Expansion Pack
Blue Moon: The Terrah Expansion Pack
Christian Fluxx Expansion Pack
Citadels Card Game
Cosmic Encounter
Descent : Sea of Blood Expansion
Fury of Dracula
Galaxy Trucker
Galaxy Trucker the Big Expansion
Jet Set
Jewish Fluxx Expansion Pack
Kill Doctor Lucky – Big Box Edition
Kung Fu Fighting
Martian Fluxx Deck
Memoir ’44 Campaign Book Expansion
Memoir ’44 Eastern Front Expansion
Munchkin 2 Unnatural Axe
Munchkin Impossible
Munchkin Quest Boardgame
Pandemic : On the Brink
Pocket Battles: Celts vs Roman
Runebound : Crown of the Elder Kings
Runebound : Traps & Terrors
Run for your Life, Candyman
San Juan
Seafarers of Catan 5&6 Ex (07)
Settlers of Canaan
Settlers of Catan 5&6 Expansion (07)
Small World
Settlers of Catan Card Game (SA)
Elasund the First City of Catan (SA)
Settlers of Catan Replacement Card Deck
Seafarers of Catan Game Expansion
Space Alert
Stargate SG-1 Board Game
Stone Age
Super Munchkin 2 Narrow S Cape
Ten Days in Africa
Ticket to Ride Europa 1912 Exp
Ticket to Ride Europe
TOMB Board Game
Traders & Barbarians
Traders and Barbarians 5-6 Plyr Expansion
Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition
Twilight Struggle Upgrade Kit
UNO Card Game Original
Warhammer LCG Core Set
Zombie Fluxx
Zombies! (Second Edition)
Zombies!!! 2 (2nd Edition)

New & Restocked Accessories
Counter Tray
Crystal Counters- Black
Crystal Counters – Blue
Crystal Counters – Clear
Crystal Counters -Yellow
Deluxe Euro Token (196 pieces)
Solid Black Deck Box
Solid Blue Deck Box
Solid Green Deck Box
Solid Red Deck Box
Textured Gold Deck Box

ZMan Special Sale

We’ve got a special sale on right now, at Starlit Citadel for some ZMan Games that we were able to bring in.  Discounts on the sale items are extremely high, so purchase quickly.  We have a limited stock purchased of these sale items, and should be able to get more but are uncertain of total quantities we can get, so best to purchase as soon as possible.

New & Restocked Board Games – January 11, 2010

New Board Games
Heroscape Dungeons and Dragons Master Set 3 – Battle for the Underdark
The Perfect Pyramid
Timestreams Deck 1 : Stone Age vs Future Tech
Timestreams Deck 2 : Medeival vs Modern Day
Zombie Mosh

Revised Board Games
Acquire Board Game
Axis & Allies 1942
Diplomacy Revised
Race for the Galaxy : the Gathering Storm
Rush n Crush Board Game