News, reviews, business articles and site updates for a board games store in Canada

Warehouse or Retail Store?

September 26th, 2016 Posted in business | No Comments »

Game LibraryWe are coming up on our end of the lease fast and while we’ve made the decision that we will be moving to a new location as our rents have now increased to a point that we no longer think it’s worthwhile to stay, the question we are still working our way through is whether to go full retail or stay as an online store.

Warehouse

Continuing to run a warehouse makes a lot of sense in many ways.  There are some major pros including:

  • well optimised polices and procedures
  • ability to take on more and larger Kickstarter projects
  • potentially branching into other non-related product lines in ways that don’t create confusion among our customers (e.g. selling sporting equipment on a new website)
  • lower cost (we can get warehouse spaces for cheaper than what we are paying right now, so we’d actually drop our cost!)

The Cons though are somewhat more nebulous

  • new location likely to be less central significantly
  • growth has to come from new categories as our gaming category has slowed
  • potentially being locked out further by publishers
  • it’s boring…

Retail Store

Going with the retail store, things get a bit more interesting for the future, with some of the pro’s including:

  • new revenue streams from snacks & drinks & events
  • ability to access and run events / games likes Magic the Gathering and miniature games
  • increase in sales to casual drop-in’s and potential increase in sales from impulse buying of our geek products
  • significantly more options for PR and social media outreach

However, there are some major cons:

  • significantly higher lease cost (we’re looking at least another $4,000 a month at a minimum, more likely $5-7k).
  • new staff and staffing hours would be required.  Approximately $3k more in terms of staffing cost per month
  • loss of revenue from Kickstarter projects.  We probably could handle the smaller projects still, but the larger projects would be difficult (i.e. we couldn’t quote on projects over a few hundred games just due to lack of storage areas for them)
  • new capital requirements for shelving, gondolas, POS systems, etc.  At least another 5 – 10k depending on how nice we want to go.
  • potentially sub-par location.  We need a minimum of 2,500 sq ft and are probably looking at 3,000 up to 5,000 sq ft.  There just aren’t that many locations of that size in Vancouver, especially in retail and for the prices we can afford which would raise the total rent even higher
  • too close locations are another major issue as there are so many game stores right now, finding a location that isn’t too close to an existing store is another problem.

There’s also a rather concerning trend in real estate pricing.  In general, commercial pricing seems to run 2 – 3 years behind retail pricing, so if there is a drop in sales in retail pricing, we might expect a price drop in a few years which means that any lease we sign right now might be on the high price.

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New Board Games: September 22, 2016

September 22nd, 2016 Posted in general, new releases | No Comments »

America: A Party Game Where Close Counts
Baby Blues
Coup: Rebellion G54 – Anarchy Expansion
Hit Z Road
Munchkin: Marvel Edition 2 – Mystic Mayhem
Retreat to Darkmoor
Shadows of Brimstone: Trederra Deluxe Otherworld Expansion
Shakespeare
The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet
The Resistance: The Plot Thickens
The Spoils: Decade of Deckadance
Tragedy Looper : Cosmic Evil Expansion
Zany Penguins
shakespeare

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New Board Games: September 15th, 2016

September 15th, 2016 Posted in general, new releases | No Comments »

Adventure Time: Card Wars – Doubles Tournament
Behind The Throne
Book of Lairs (5th Edition)
Covert
Exposed
Fearsome Floors (Restock)
Little Drop of Poison
Magic the Gathering: Take The Crown Boosters
Magic the Gathering: Take The Crown Booster Box
Medici
Potion Explosion
Raid and Trade
Spielbox Magazine: Issue 3 (2016)
Spellcaster: Potions
Strife: Shadows and Steam
Street Kings
Tome of Pawns (5th Edition)
VYE (Second Edition)
covert_2

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Charities & Budgets

September 12th, 2016 Posted in business | No Comments »

Charity QuoteWe get a request for a charitable & promotional contribution of some form about once every 2 weeks. Most of these charities or groups are people who we’ve never even heard from before and many don’t really offer much in terms of marketing opportunities.  Many are also only tangentially related to our industry, so many of these e-mails are just ‘mass’ mailings to see what they can get.

Over the years, we’ve varied how much and under what conditions we’ll provide charitable contributions.  One hard and fast rule we’ve made though is not to support any charity / event that isn’t Canadian.  After all, most of our customers are Canadian and sending product across the border increases our cost so much, there’s really no point.

Currently, we don’t have a hard budget for our charitable contributions.  Part of that is due to the fact that we generally provide products as our contribution, which allows us to be a bit more flexible in what we can offer.  Thankfully, being in this industry, we can generally provide decent games that aren’t complete turkeys that don’t sell well for us.  Still,  even without a budget we need a way to guesstimate how much to send to each charity (unless said charity already has sponsorship levels).

That’s where we start assessing potential return and relevance.  If you are a gaming related event / charity, it makes more sense to provide more products to you.  If it’s for an event where we expect the games to be used regularly, we’ll provide more (examples including schools and libraries looking to expand their programming).  On the other hand, if it’s a charity for pet therapy for example, there’s not a lot of relevance for us.

From there, we also look at the size of the event.  If it’s an event with only 50 people arriving, it’s no use sending 20 games.  If it’s an event where there’s a few thousand, then a larger contribution makes sense since it ‘spreads’ the contribution around further.

One thing we don’t do, or haven’t done, is chosen to support / advocate for any specific cause.  Of course, we ran the Lower Mainland Christmas  Bureau’s  donation drive last year, but it’s not a ’cause’ if you will.  There’s a few reasons for that, mostly due to my belief that my personal views / feelings shouldn’t impact the way the business is run. Still, now that Christmas is coming, I’m wondering if we should look at running another charity drive.

 

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The Summer Free Shipping Promotion

September 9th, 2016 Posted in best practices, business | No Comments »

Free Shipping Promo of $100 cancelled As many of you know, the Summer Free Shipping Promotion has ended. As with any promotion or marketing tactic, one of our main goals is to evaluate the promotion to understand whether it actually hit it’s goal – that is, drove more sales and traffic. Normally, all we’d have to do is compare the previous period (i.e. same months last year) to this period and; adjusting for regular sales increase, figure out the difference in both revenue and number of sales. Unfortunately, as many of you know, we had a huge problem in the middle of the month – the Canada Post strike/lockout threat. This created a huge amount of uncertainty and we even had to turn off the promotion at some point as we switched to shipping via UPS.

How much difference did the threat of a Canada Post strike make in our sales? Well, we saw a 31% drop in total shipments and about 35% in total in June where the strike affected us most. That’s a huge drop, especially when you realise that the next month (August) we saw a full 40% increase. Now, you could say that the 40% increase was from the free shipping but there’s also an argument to be made that the increase is in part due to orders that were ‘held-off’ during the strike period.

On top of all this of course is the calculation needed to figure out the difference in profitability. It’s not enough to know how much more we made (if anything); it’s also important to know how much more we paid in shipping. There’s 2 main ways to do this of course – a line by line review (matching each free shipping order to it’s associated cost in our invoices) or we could go with averages. In this case, we work out the average cost of shipping each order and compare it against our previous year to work out the increase / change and compare it to our average revenue generated from shipping. This lets us know the difference that each order ‘cost’ us to ship, which then lets us work out the increased cost of shipping. Unfortunately, again; not that easy since we also have a bunch of Kickstarter shipments in our invoices. Which means we have to individually take it all out to actually work out our actual cost of shipping.

Overall, here’s what we figured out:

  • The lower free shipping threshold probably generated an increase in orders
  • This increase mainly came from existing customers, not new customers
  • Surprisingly, the average sale value saw only a small change (6.82%)
  • Profit margins per order dropped by about 16.98%

However, because of the strike our total number of orders actually dropped in comparison to last year (about 16%)  during the period in question.  It’s hard to draw any real conclusions because of the strike, though there is enough data to suggest that if the strike hadn’t happened we would have seen an overall increase in number of orders.  The question which we can’t answer is whether that increase would make up for the drop in our profit margins (we need about a 34% increase overall to breakeven on the loss in profits) since the two months we just don’t have enough data / time to make it clear.  My guess is that it probably a wash if a slight decrease in our overall profit, which is why we’ve moved back to the $175 free shipping option for now.

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New Board Games: September 8th, 2016

September 8th, 2016 Posted in general, new releases | No Comments »

Code 777 (30th Anniversary Edition)
Descent 2nd Edition: The Chains That Rust
Grifters
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Gunslinger Class Deck
Thief’s Market
The Pursuit of Happiness
The End of The World RPG: Revolt of the Machines
The Lord of the Rings: The Drowned Ruins Adventure Pack
Zombicide Black Plague: Special Guest Box – Naiade Characters
Zombicide Black Plague: Special Guest Box – Edouard Guiton Characters
Zombicide Black Plague: NPC 1
Zombicide Black Plague: Special Guest Marc Simonetti
sg8023_l

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The Warehouse Sale & the Game Library

September 1st, 2016 Posted in business | 2 Comments »

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.

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New Board Games: August 29th, 2016

August 29th, 2016 Posted in general, new releases | 1 Comment »

Continental Divide
Dead Last
Die Zwerge (The Dwarves)
Exceed: Red Horizon: Eva & Kaden vs. Lily & Miska
Heir to the Pharaoh
J’Accuse!
Leo
Mare Nostrum: Empires
Morocco
Nevermore: Specters of Nevermore
Red Dragon Inn: Allies – Keet and Nitrel
Shadowrun 5th Edition: Seattle Sprawl Box Set
The Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction
Wok on Fire
saloon_tycoon

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Kickstarter Fulfillment

August 25th, 2016 Posted in business | No Comments »

IMG_0722
We have been getting some great press about the Kickstarter Fulfillment service that we offer out of the warehouse. Overall, it’s been quite fun to handle and we are glad to see some great games get out to Kickstarter backers. However, I do want to reassure our regular customers that it’s not something that is ever going to become a major part of the business (at least not in the sense of it taking over the retail side).

For one thing, most of our fulfillment happens during the warehouse ‘down-time’. As we hire part-time warehouse workers, for most fulfillment options we just increase the number of hours that our warehouse personnel work to full-time each day. Even working on our regular orders, we generally can complete about 200 additional games a day which is more than sufficient for most Kickstarter’s.

That’s another point worth mentioning or highlighting. For the vast majority of Kickstarter’s, we are told that Canada makes up 10% of all backers. In our experience, that generally works out to be between 100 – 200 backers at best for a very successful Kickstarter, around 40 – 50 for those that do well. Now, our rates are posted publicly (CAD$3.50 per order fulfilled) but those rates include boxes & packing materials which on average works out to be about CAD$1 in cost. That works out to be about CAD$2.50 before we have to pay staff for their time and of course, any mistakes we make comes out of the total as we pay for reshipments & returns. On top of that, for every Kickstarter quote that we do get, there are at least another 5 that we don’t get and end-up wasting time on. All that time has to be paid for somewhere.

As you can guess, the profitability of doing Kickstarter fulfillment really isn’t high. So why bother doing it?

  • Industry relations – doing the Kickstarter fulfillment, we’ve been in touch with a wide range of publishers and backers, many of whom we’d never have talked to if we weren’t doing this.  As such, it’s a good way of extending our network.
  • Marginal profit – every little bit helps.  If the warehouse isn’t being used at that time, it’s additional marginal use that we can make of it, so the marginal profitability is still worthwhile.  Of course, there’s a certain level before this marginal business start’s being a main business, but in Canada, it would have to be a significant increase.

IMG_0720

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New Board Games: August 25th, 2016

August 25th, 2016 Posted in general, new releases | No Comments »

Crossing
Dead of Winter: The Long Night
Dragon Rapid Fire: The Fire Crystals
Flick ‘Em Up: Red Rock Tomahawk
Heroes of Kaskaria
Legendary Deck Building Game: Big Trouble in Little China
Marvel Legendary Deck Building Game: Civil War
Princess Mina: Jewel Matching Game
Rabbit Rally
Splish Splash Catapult
deadofwinterthelong night

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