Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday, the Failure

We’ve had pretty good luck running Black Friday events in the past, opening at 5 or 6 in the morning with a table of specials and a discount schedule that gets smaller as the morning wears on. We also serve breakfast: toasted bagels with cream cheese and hot apple cider from a local orchard. Typically, we don’t have huge crowds but have three to six people browsing and spending money at any given time during the event. Sales usually run about 25 to 50 percent above a typical Friday. This time, we tried something different which failed quite thoroughly and will serve as a valuable object lesson for next year’s planning.

A couple of times a year (the store anniversary and Halloween) we host a party for our customers, the focal point of which is the distribution of over a thousand dollars worth of prizes through drawings. Customers get tickets through doing various things such as purchases, bringing in cans of food, coming in costume, etc and the drawings pull in a large number of excited people, especially since they have to be present to win (we don’t want to keep track of who won what) and are accompanied by significantly higher than normal sales. Based on this, for Black Friday, we decided to do another drawing and tie ticket distribution to time of day and amount purchased, along with other ways to earn tickets. As I said, based on past experience and customer enthusiasm and chatter about the event, I thought this was a great idea, especially since we had hot cider and bagels. Boy, was I wrong.

The day certainly started well. I arrived a bit before 6, got the bagels and cider ready and welcomed the first customers at a few minutes after 6. That should have been my first clue. In past years, we have had people lined up outside the door when we opened. The first customer spent a goodly amount and then, I got what should have been my second clue, when he passed on receiving any drawing tickets, saying he wouldn’t be there for the drawing. Second customer bought a pack of Magic 2012 and a few common cards and left. Then nothing but the sound of crickets for three more hours. The only person to set foot through the door until regular opening time at 10 a.m. was a guy who stops in to pick up a copy of the free student newspaper and he just complained that the students hadn’t put one out on a day when the students had all left for the holiday.

Does this sour me on the idea of running Black Friday events? Of course not. This was an experiment that failed. From what I have heard, other stores did incredibly well. Albany, New York’s Zombie Planet posted on their Facebook page that Black Friday broke sales records and St. Louis’s Star Clipper also posted about huge crowds.

Lesson learned. Customers will come out for discounts, premiums and specials, not for hot cider and extra drawing entries. Planning for next year began today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New This Week

Several new items in this week:

Game of Thrones The Board Game 2nd edition
Ninja:  Legend of the Scorpion Clan
Risk Legacy
Traveller RPG Campaign 1:  Secrets of the Ancients
Call of Cthulhu RPG  Lovecraft's Dreamlands

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Demo Games

Courtesy of Impressions Advertising and Marketing and a number of their clients, we now have the following in the demo game library.

1955:  The War of Espionage
Cookie Fu
Tom Jolly's Way Word
Zox So
Grave Business
Nitro Dice
Nile deLuxor
Heroes of Graxia
Zombie High School
Red Dragon Inn:  Gambling?  I'm In!
Villains & Villagers

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Against The Darkness

The store recently received a copy of Against the Darkness, “A Roleplaying Game of Vatican Horror and Conspiracy”, from Tabletop Adventures. I’ve known one of the principals in the company via email from the GPA (Game Publishers Association) and was intrigued by the game when I saw them showing it off at a convention I attended last week.  I’ve always been a sucker for modern day horror RPGs (long time fan of Call of Cthulhu and I still run a game of Pacesetter Games’ Chill on rare occasions), so when I saw ATD in Tabletop’s display rack, I asked them enough questions about it that they finally gave me a copy (I also bought two copies and a GM pack for the store so they made some revenue off me).

Against the Darkness really intrigued me because of the similarity in themes between it and the anime, Trinity Blood.  Both involve representatives of the Catholic Church and the Vatican, fighting against the forces of darkness, save that Trinity Blood focuses on vampires as the main villain and is more overt in the conflict between the church and the vampires than ATD.  In ATD, the darkness is always there, but it hides in the shadows and the players must venture there, outside the ken of their fellow men.  The quality of the book looks good as well, the only problem I have is that Tabletop has saddle stapled it with no room for a logo on the spine. Ergo, if it (and the GMs pack) gets shelved spine out, well, it vanishes, leaving only the folded over cover of a book to attract the customer’s eye. The company is looking into the economics of producing a book with a printable spine and probably will come out with one in the future.

New Gaming In This Week

Some cool stuff came in this week:

Super Dungeon Explore

Warhammer 40,000Special Edition  Dice Cubes (only 12 of these)
'Eavy Metal Brush Set
'Eavy Metal Masterclass Book
GW Paint Station
Citadel Tool Kit
Imperial Strongpoint
Imperial Sector
Fortree of Redemption
Fortified Manor
Warhammer 40,00 and Fantasy Battle Custom Army Cases
Deathwatch:  The Frist Founding
Game of Thrones:  Grand Melee Chapter Pack
Ticket to Ride Asia Map Collection
Warmachine Satyxis Raiders
Pokemon B&W Noble Victories booster packs
Savage Worlds Path of Kane

Friday, November 18, 2011

Battue: Storm of the HorseLords

We have this in stock and this is actually a pretty cool boardgame for 2-4 players.  Here's a link showing how to play

New for Catan

December 1st Street Date
Catan Scenarios: Oil Springs
$5.00 SRP
UPC 029877031160005

Eureka! Oil has been discovered on the island of Catan.

The great engineers of Catan have learned ways to improve production using this valuable new resource, both by converting it into other materials and enabling the upgrade of cities into metropolises. But oil is scarce and its use does not come without cost. Using oil produces pollution, as well as climate changing emissions, which bring with them the threat of coastal flooding-and absolute disaster. With the discovery of oil on Catan, the Settlers face a new challenge: deciding whether the common good is worth limiting oil usage or whether the pursuit of victory is worth the risk of ruin.

Catan Scenarios: Oil Springs™ contains: . 1 tile sheet . 1 rules set

For 3-4 Players
Ages 12+
Playing Time 45-60 + minutes

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Graveborn Deck

The new foil deck for Magic, Graveborn, is in.  We have them on display today and they go on sale tomorrow.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

WOTC Halloween Promotions

WOTC had a couple of nice Halloween instore promotions this year, one that worked pretty well and one that made me go “Huh?”  It would have been nice on both to have more advance notice about either/both of them.
The “Huh” promotion was the Innistrad league.  Lots of nice support (Tracking poster, weekly changes in play and a window cling) but the reward for playing in the league (a poster) did not exactly excite my players or give them an incentive to come back.  Magic players are card players and respond to the offer of another card rather than some other form of epherma.  We supplemented the poster with so remaining guards from the Innistrad Launch Party and a good thing too, as the first people who earned the poster wound up leaving it on the tables after they left.  Kept the card, though and appears enough of an added inducement that most of those who started have shown up for the rest of the league nights.  Some form of alternate art card would likely work better as the reward should WOTC choose to do this again.
The Halloween Friday Night Magic promotion worked a bit better, though again, some advance notice of it would have helped in promoting it.  This was a very nice promotional kit sent to any store that registered a Friday Night Magic event on the Friday before Halloween and consisted of a standee, bags promoting FNM (always welcome) deck boxes (Not as well designed as past deck boxes, thee lacked the catches on the insert tabs to hold the box together, making it hard for them to hold together. About half the people we gave them to left them behind) and bags of Magic logoed M&Ms.  That last was especially cool as I have known few gamers able to resist candy, though several of our players had a quandary.  Do they eat the candy because, well, it’s M&Ms or do they keep it for the cool factor, since it has Magic logos on it?  From what I saw, eating them won out among most of our customers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Solitare Boardgames

In case you ever want to play a boardgame an dcan't find anyone to play against, here are some good solitaire boardgames:
any of the new WOTC releases:  Legend of Drizzt, Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashkabon.
either of the new Walking Dead boardgames.
FFG's DungeonQuest or Gears o f War.
Dan Verssen Games' Frontline D-Day or Field Commander Rommel.