Building promotions

We have a promotional package page on Starlit Citadel.  It doesn’t get a lot of sales throughout the year, with the end of the year being the best time for our promotional packages.  In fact, overall; that page gets very little attention from both customers and ourselves.  There are a few reasons for that, from the way customers navigate the site to what they are looking for, but let’s talk about how promotions are actually built and used.

On a business side, promotions are built for:

 

What the customer wants

We used to do surveys, and one of the questions we asked was what a customer wanted from a game store / why they bought from any single store. We had a range of questions and a range of answers, yet over 50% of customers mentioned price being the number one reason why they purchased from us. Over 50% of customers didn’t care about anything else other than price…

One of the major things we wanted to do as a business was / is find a ground and a group that cared about more than price. It’s something that brick & mortar stores are able to do.  They are able to differentiate themselves by finding a group of customers who are willing to pay a premium by offering more than just a basic website.  We paid for and produced the video reviews.  We spent money on developing the GameFinder App and the Game Buyer Flowcharts. We spend a significant amount of our marketing budget sponsoring various conventions and social events.

Yet, that number never did change. It just hasn’t changed.  What’s more, we’ve been introduced to an interesting side of the world where of free products – where, if you provide something for free, people demand more. It’s never good enough, no mater what you do.

 

 

 

The Pursuit of Perfection

I find when I get involved in an area, I find myself extremely critical of it.  Being intimately knowledgable about the subject matter, I find myself hyper-critical, searching for perfection.  In martial arts, a quarter inch difference in targetting could mean a blow having significant effect or none at all.  With the business, I find myself reviewing the store constantly and finding myself hyper-critical about where we stand.

It’s particularly glaring after the last few days when customers have been into the retail store and we’re not where I expect / want us to be.  There’s no signage, pricing isn’t complete, the displays are okay but not great, there’s not enough lighting… the list goes on and on in my mind.

Yet,

A Journey in Pictures

This isn’t going to be a text heavy post – that’ll come later.  However, we seem to have a few photos of the place in the before and after, so I thought it might be amusing to showcase how far we’ve come.

Before We Moved In

 

 

About Halfway There

 

The Soft Open

Kickstarter’s & The Retail Channel

We constantly get e-mailed to request our backing of a Kickstarter game.  Without fail, 100% of the time, we turn them all down.  It’s not personal, there’s just no economic reason as a business to back a Kickstarter game.  Let’s go through the reasons why:

Sunk Capital

It can take anywhere from 6 months (fast!) to a year (on average) or more (potentially never!) for a game to arrive.

Minimum Order Quantities

 

 

 

 

Anatomy of a closure (Updated)

It’s been a bit since we closed the business. I’m still in the midst of cleaning / clearing inventory out and lord knows, I have a bunch of boxes up here for things that should be listed on Amazon but we never got around to. Truth be told, a lot of might never go up.

I had a lot of information pre-written information here, but I realised everything I said has been said. I just didn’t want to keep the business going. Profitable or not, desire had run out.

If anyone ever wants me to post something in detail, they can paypal me a bunch of cash and I’ll do. Otherwise, meh.

That’s all folks and thanks for the fish!

As you probably realised, we’ve closed the store for general retail purchasing. While we’ll still be selling & shipping a few items online till Jan 31, 2019, that number is going to drop continuously as we move products to Amazon for final sale. We’ll probably stop even that by the middle of this week or so, depending on orders / quantities / etc.

Any products that we haven’t sold / been able to ship by Jan 31 will likely be donated to a local charity.

We’re also going to be getting rid of all our shelving & other assorted items, so if you know anyone who wants a billion warehouse shelves, do let us know. We’ve also got some old Ikea square shelves that are perfect for board games too.

I did want to clarify something for those who are curious. The main reason for closing the store has been due to a loss of passion on my part for the business. While I’ve tried to reduce the ‘burden’ of work of running the store on me, it’s not really worked out as well as I’d hoped. Considering the significant amount of work I still had to do and the overall headache of keeping the business running along with low interest on my part to deal with the increasing complexity, I decided to take the opportunity of our lease running out to shut the store down. I’d hoped someone would purchase the store since it was profitable, but due to the sheer value (of inventory if nothing else) of what we’d built up, it was, eventually not viable.

The Kickstarter Fulfillment side of the business will continue to exist. That requires minimal work and we should – hopefully – have reached a methodology that will see me with very low total involvement over the next few years. In either case, that will not affect customers.

Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone for their patronage over the years. It’s been an interesting experience running this business, but all good things have to come to an end. After 12 years, running Starlit Citadel has been the longest running job I’ve ever had. I’ve made some great friends and learnt a lot and it wouldn’t have been possible without you. Hopefully we’ve also added a little fun for all of you over the years too.

Business For Sale – PDB Sales Inc.

Big news!

PDB Sales Inc. which includes Starlit Citadel, the Starlit Logistics (our Kickstarter fulfillment brand) and our other online websites is up for sale. After consideration, after over 11 years in this industry, I (Tao) desire to pursue some other projects. As such, rather than just shut down the business entirely, I’d like to see if there is anyone who is willing and able to purchase the business. I’d prefer to sell the entire business (i.e. PDB Sales Inc. corporation) rather than piecemeal, though dependingo n the offer, that might be viable.

What is included in the sale:

  • Websites and backend for online shipping
  • Over 200k of Inventory (book cost)
  • Youtube videos and other graphics
  • Well-trained staff who deal with 95% of everything
  • Documentation on the majority of processes for shipping, kickstarters and more
  • Current lease (expires February 2019 with renewal option for another 2 years)

I believe Starlit Citadel can continue to grow with a passionate owner. Unfortunately, that owner is no longer me. The Kickstarter logistics business continues to grow every year with 0 marketing effort, the retail store does extremely well even in its basement location.

 

Quick FAQs

Are you closing down?

No. The business is going to be open until Feb 2019 at the least. The business is overall profitable, so there’s no reason to shut it down.

What kind of owner is this suitable for?

Realistically, this is a business that works well for those who want to own and run it themselves. While it’s viable to have the professional manager (Paden who is doing a great job) manage it, there is still roughly 10-20 hours worth of backend work that is required a week. In addition, there’s a lot of work that can be done to expand into markets we don’t touch really well (Magic, etc.).

How much do you want?

… as much as possible? Realistically, I’d be happy to discuss with people directly but at a minimum I’d be looking at the cost of the inventory. Most of the inventory is ‘good’ stock and can be liquidated at either cost to customers and the remainder sent for slow resale with a 3rd party business.

If you are interested or know someone who is willing and able to purchase the business, please e-mail me directly at trwong @ starlitcitadel.com.

 

Kickstarters in 2017

As many of you know, we help publishers ship items within Canada. Last year, we did a total of 45 Kickstarters in Canada, more than we’ve ever done. Here’s the list:

 

01.04.17 Santorini
01.19.17 BrilliAnts
01.24.17 Ghostel
01.28.17 Siege of Dragonspear(video Game)
02.2.17 Vampire Hunter D(Comic)
02.9.17 Battleborn Legacy
02.15.17 Dresden Files Card Game
02.16.17 Rare is Everything(Book)
03.02.17 Flying Pig Redux
03.02.17 Unfair
03.09.17 DVP -Shadows
03.14.17 Rare is Blah Redux
03.15.17 GameFolio
03.17.17 Too Many Bones
03.20.17 Gnomi
03.24.17 Betabotz
04.04.17 Pirate Nation
04.7.17 DicenStein
04.11.17 Scurry
05.02.17 Flying Tents
05.04.17 Dark Blades RPG
05.18.17 Cthulhu Wars
05.26.17 Dark Blades 2 RPG
06.1.17 Xia
06.5.17 Cthulhu Wars 2
06.29.17 7th Seas Theaoth
07.13.17 Summit
07.24.17 Star Traders
07.26.17 Shadows over Brimstone
07.27.17  Roswell 51
08.14.17 Brides and Bribes
08.18.17 RDI6
08.25.17 TMB2
09.10.17 GloomHaven!!!!
09.15.17 Stop Thief
09.29.17 Monsoon
10.13.17 Flying Pigs
10.20.19 Caledonia
11.10.17 Mistborn
11.24.17 Bluebeard
12.07.17 Watches
12.18.17 Bullets
12.19.17 BlueBeard
12.29.17 Destiny Aurora
12.29.17 Get off my lawn