I’ve been running the online store now for around 4 months at the time of writing this blog, and really just wanted to make a few observations which may be of interest for anyone looking at the world of table top gaming retail.
Firstly, a person I know who runs a bricks and mortar store once said to me “if you want to make a small fortune in the gaming industry you need to start with a large fortune”…well turns out he was very correct. I honestly don’t know how small independent game stores survive and even manage to employ anyone, the profit margins are just so tight on board game sales its very difficult to make any reasonable mark up on a product and that’s before any card handling fees and other over heads combined with the fact you can rarely sell a board game at suggested retail price. I can only assume they make small amounts on board game sales and perennial earners with a regular turn over of new products like Magic the Gathering and Games Workshop ranges keep them going. I have no great expertise in the collectable and trading card games, I’ll leave that to my mate Mark at Manascrew in Northampton, he knows what he is talking about.
Secondly, there is no doubt that the big game selling companies have the most customer sales and web hits of what is available out there wrapped up for themselves. They buy massive amounts of stock and shift it quickly for minimal mark up, but of course its that massive quantity that gives them the ability to do that and with due respect some of them have some great speedy service (not all of them I must add). I know a lot of people buy from Amazon and I get that, any store does not automatically deserve your custom just because the are small or independently owned, you have to earn your customers. So I have learnt you have to do what you do as well as you can, keep your service good (my bench mark is always asking myself what I would expect) and to some extent ignore the big boys and concentrate on what makes you stand out. I really try to give my best service, prompt well packed goods and a personal approach, I want my customers to feel they are dealing with a real person (me) and not a faceless department. I do have what I feel is a slight advantage, in that I will only sell product in which I am confident. The products I sell are either games/miniatures I have used myself or come with strong recommendations or I know to be a sound product range. I bet Jeff Bezos the billionaire owner of Amazon can’t say that, I don’t know how he sleeps at night? (I would suggest very well on a massive luxurious bed on his own private island). Lol
Thirdly, its such a fickle market place. I’m still coming to terms with how you decide what new products to invest your money in and what to stay clear of. With board games the hotness of new products is a very short lived thing, and its not long before something new is now old stock and ignored as people grasp for the new stuff. There are a few solid ‘must stock’ items but its not a large list by any stretch of the imagination. I also find myself a little behind the curve here, this is because rather than buying ‘all’ the new releases I tend to do my research, watch reviews and speak to people before I invest in the new stock, as mentioned earlier I would really hate to sell you something I considered to be substandard. After all you can always visit the ‘wish’ website for that!
I am finding it tricky separating the ‘gamer’ me from the ‘business’ me and have to be very mindful not to be totally led by my own wants and desires in the gaming world, but I think I’m slowly finding the balance.
So big thanks to all those who have supported my new venture and I’ll keep plugging away at it. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for all the up to date information and don’t forget to share the site with your gaming buddies. You can also find me rambling on Facebook, so check it out and be sure to follow, like and share.
I be happy to hear any feedback about Table Top Heroes and even just chat games talk, so feel free to drop me an e mail.
All the best