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.

 

The Warehouse Sale & the Game Library

The Warehouse Sale

We spent just over a week going through every item that’s come in in the last few years, adding everything that we don’t intend to carry on a regular basis from now on.  To help clearance everything, we’re providing an additional discount that is linked to how many clearance items you purchased.  The discount works this way:

  • Buy $50 of clearance items, get a 5% discount on non-clearance items
  • Buy $100 of clearance items, get a 10% discount on non-clearance items
  • Buy $250 of clearance items, get a 20% discount on non-clearance items

For this additional discount to show up, you’ll need to purchase all of these items at the same time.  The shopping cart should automatically add the appropriate discount level to all non-clearance products.

The Game Library

Game Library

 

We’ve launched our game library with membership open to those in GVRD.  We’re running this as a test program to see the level of interest for such a program.  While there are over a 100 games in the library, it’s quite clear that there are a lot of newer games that are missing.  The goal is to increase the game library inline with our membership numbers, with membership dues being used to add to the game library.

Of course, in the beginning we’re looking at purchasing game demo’s since it’ll keep our cost down, but depending on the level of interest, we might just add a few other games don’t have a demo program too. If there is very little or no interest, we’ll probably put the program on hold but we’ll likely try to run the program though to the end of the year at least.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have on the new program below.

Miniature Lines

Lastly, one thing we’ve decided on is to reduce the number of miniatures we have been stocking.  Instead, we’re switching over to special orders for the vast majority of miniatures other than our Bones line.  As these items are going to be on special order, we are also reducing our markup somewhat as the pricing on the new Guild Ball items will illustrate.  As usual, if there’s a miniature you’d like to purchase which isn’t on the site, e-mail us and we’ll add it to the site for your special order.

Outside our Power

As a retailer, we have certain advantages over publishers.  For one, we generally aren’t reliant on any one product or even a single company for our existence.  Sure, some companies are more important than others (it’d suck if FFG went out of business tomorrow) but overall, we can spread our risk around a lot more.

In addition, we are the end-seller; the last business entity before the product enters the hand of the customer, which sometimes gives us a very good view of demand in the market compared to publishers or distributors.

Out of Control

Unfortunately, that also means that there’s more than a few things that are out of our control.  Stock, and stock shortage is the major one.  This year in particular has been particularly bad – it seems like 50% at least of FFG’s product line is out of stock, Pandemic and it’s expansion was out of print for a while this year, King of Tokyo and Smash Up the same.  Almost all the hot games that have been released in the last year and a half or so seem to have gone in and out of stock.  It’s incredibly frustrating and bad for business.

Worst are the constant delays in production – slipped deadlines, bad information, price increases or stock shortages.  Luckily, most customers don’t blame us for this – but it does happen.

Planning for Others

They say no plan survives contact with the enemy. Well, in business, no plan survives reality.  Like in the army, the only thing you can really do is build flexibility in  your plan and your business and keep a reserve for when things don’t go right.

Oh, and have a little Luck on your side.

Business Valuation

Business Valuation is an interesting area; and one that generates a lot of debate.  It’s partially due to the highly subjective nature of some of the valuation methods and partially due to the fact that there are multiple valuation methods which can result in multiple (and highly divergent) numbers.  Having now spoken to a number of businesses, it can be extremely frustrating as sometimes, the valuation differences is extreme.  At the end of the day though, what a business is worth is exactly what someone else is willing to pay for it.

Valuation Methods

There are basically a few major forms of valuation:

  • Income Approaches
  • Asset-based approach
  • Market approach

Income Approaches take a run at a company’s profits to decide it’s sale value.  The simplest form of this uses a multiple of the net profit – generally between 2 to 5 depending on the business.  Sometimes, the net profit is adjusted to add back the salary paid to the owner; though that is obviously dependent on the business involved.   This is potentially quite useful if the business is profitable; but quite often (at least in this industry); it’s not profitable.  And a multiple of a negative number isn’t going to be useful at all.

Asset based approaches basically take the combined value of all the parts of a business to come to a valuation number.  It doesn’t take into account things like Goodwill or Growth factors; just the actual assets of the business (generally adjusted towards fair market value); so it actually provides a lower valuation number for an on-going business.  In a gaming business, most of your assets would be in terms of stock and potentially shelving /office equipment.  If you have a website and domain name, it might be included in this too – especially if the website has been well developed.

Market Approaches value a business based on its competitors.   It’s really only useful if you know the sale value of another business; which is uncommon when you consider that we’re dealing with private businesses here.

Discounts

Before we finish; I’d add that quite often a discount is also added to a business. The most common reasons for adding a discount is for purchasing a minority control (added risk) or a lack of marketability (especially relevant for private sales).  If you’re buying a private business; getting out of the business is a major problem since there’s only a limited number of individuals who might wish to buy it.

My Experience

All of the above factors make buying another game store difficult.  If someone is offering to sell to you; 90% of the time what they are selling is a business that is losing money.  As such, you’ll need to value them based off their assets.  However, quite often the seller bases their sale price on unadjusted value of their inventory, goodwill and growth ‘potential’ and other intangibles.  Sometimes those intangibles include things like ‘what I invested to get the company this far’.

Now, some of those factors make sense – goodwill from customers and a strong brand has value.  The question is; how much? That’s where things might get highly contentious, since a business owner is often much more optimistic than the purchaser.  As a purchaser, quite often you also have to input an amount for opportunity cost – if I paid $15,000 for your business; what else could I have done with that $15,000? To make it worthwhile, you’d need a sufficient amount of ‘discount’ or potential for profit to make it worth spending that $15,000.  On the other hand, if you expect too high a discount you won’t be able to purchase the business.

It’s this gap that I think that is often why the end game for a game shop is so bleak.  Unless you’re selling the business at firesale prices; it’s hard to get much money back as most purchasers will just value you at your cost of inventory (with a slight bump for brand name, etc).  Yet, quite often none of the years of hard work you’ve put in is valued at all; which can be quite frustrating.  Sometimes, it’s just better to close shop rather than deal with the hassle.

 

The Fickleness of Memory

I’m in the midst of updating our sales list right now, and have once again been reminded just how fickle my memory is.  When deciding what games to put up for sale, I go through a few steps:

  1. Download our entire catalog
  2. Remove all out-of-stock items
  3. Start deleting all games that I know have sold well.
  4. Once complete, I generally have about 700 – 800 products on the list.  I then start verifying sales in the last year.

This is where my memory really fails me.  See, in part (3) if I even hesitate, I leave the game / item on the list so that I can double-check in part (4).  Generally though, I like to think of myself as a person with a great memory.

Then I hit games like Tobago, Labyrinth the Card Game and Chez Cthulhu and Homesteaders and I realise, no, my memory really isn’t that good.  All those games have sold over 4 times in a year – which is very good in our business.

And that’s why we have stats

I’m obsessed with numbers – I run the business with numbers. If I can’t put a number to something, I get twitchy (e.g. how well is the Spiel doing for us?)  It’s not just for my own phobias though, it’s because with over 3,000 plus SKUs, you cannot remember it all.  Thus, numbers and charts and databases that record it all because your memory, no matter how good just can’t process all that information.