Stocking a Board Game Section

Wrote this answer to a question by a redditor, thought I might as well C&P it here.  He did answer some other questions (it’s a comic / hobby store re-opening, with a competing MtG centered-store) so hopefully that provides some context.

Okay, I’ll give this a shot. OLGS owner here (Starlit Citadel) so recommendations based off our own sell list, our experience at Cons and reading Gary’s blog (read it!!!). A few things to start, there’s some information I’m missing which will affect what you are buying.  This includes:
1) Store size (how much square footage, how much space is dedicated to board games).
2) Location (are you a mall store, strip mall store, stand-alone, in an industrial area of town or smack downtown? All dictate foot traffic and type of customers).
3) Game space (and if so, what kind and size? what events will you run, etc?)

Okay, that being said; I’d actually break your buy list down a bit differently.  My categories are:
– War Games (stock Command & Colors Ancients, Memoir ’44, Battle Line, A&A 1914, 1942 Europe & Pacific, Risk Legacy. Forget all the smaller publishers, just special order them in.)
– Heavy Strategy Games (Agricola, Ora & Labora (if it comes in), Power Grid, Suburbia, Puerto Rico, Caylus)
– Mid-Weight Strategy Games (Small World, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Takenoko, Race for the Galaxy, Lords of Waterdeep, Stone Age)
– Light-Weight “Gateway” Games (Kingsburg, Revolution, Munchkin, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Citadels, Gloom, Lost Cities, Bang!, Castle Panic, all the Fluxes)
– Deck Builders (Dominion, Ascension, and for your comic crowd; maybe Tanto Cuore. DC & Marvel Deck Builders 1 copy each).
– Filler Games (King of Tokyo, Love Letter (in all its versions), Coup,  Smash Up, the Resistance, Hanabi)
– Adventure (or Ameritrash) Games (Arkham Horror, Last Night on Earth, Cutthroat Caverns, Eclipse, Twilight Imperium, Mage Knight, Firefly,  BSG, Eldritch Horror, GoT Board Game, Zombicide)
– Co-Operatives (Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, Pandemic, Flash Point, Ghost Stories, Elder Sign, Shadows over Camelot )
– Family / Party Games (7 Wonders, Dixit, Wits & Wagers, Say Anything)
– Classic Games (Monopoly, Clue, Risk: Legacy, etc – decide if you want / need these. It can help with ‘branding’ you a game store, but if you’re a really geeky location due to the comics, it might be wortwhile not bothering and saving up on dollars / space).

There a lot of games here.  There probably are more I’ve missed, but these cover most of the evergreens we see with a few ‘hot’ items right now.  You’ll want to rotate the hot stuff in / out.

Some things to consider:
1) Board games take up a lot of space. Look at your own collection, count the number of games. Do a rough calculation of their value (50% of MSRP for your sales budget).  Now consider that you have to actually merchandise these games properly (i.e. they must be easy for customers to grab, hold and browse).  At a con, we easily bring about $8,000 worth of games and maybe have space to show 2/3 of it in a 10″ by 10″ booth.

2) You have to decide if you want to go full-line or just hit the highlights of some of these popular games.  Dominion by itself with just 2 copies of each game can take up 2 shelves. Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne will do the same if you go full-line.  That’s an entire bookshelf (probably shelf and a half) filled with just the ‘mainstay’s.  Munchkin can easily take up 2 – 3 shelves, probably more if you really go full-line.

3) Tabletop is fine; but demand can vary significantly. Example – Dragon Age RPG – we sold 2 copies last year.  Ticket to Ride has always sold like hotcakes (easily over 20 turns) while Get Bit went up from 0 turns to 8 or 9 a year after the show.

4) Seriously, seriously consider bringing in the X-Wing Mini’s game. It sells insanely well for us and is so pretty.

5) Think about LCGs – specifically, Game of Thrones & Android.  Bring in ONLY the Core Sets, see if there are special orders.  There are way too many chapter packs to stock for most FLGs these days, so make sure there’s a demand first, then bring in the latest set in small numbers to sell to your current customers.

6)  Do NOT think you need to spend your full budget immediately.  Keep at least 20% (30% is better I’d say) unspent for upcoming products and to ‘fill-in’ sections as you see customers show interest.

7)  Decide how ‘deep’ (how many copies) you need based off how often you (or the owner) orders and how long it takes to arrive / stock the shelf.  E.g. if he only makes orders once a week and it takes 3 days to arrive, you need at least 2 weeks worth of product on the shelf.  So if you sell 2 copies of Settlers of Catan a week, you need 4 copies on the shelves (3 copies will ‘on average’ sell before the restock arrives, with 1 copy left for sudden fluctuations).