Our holiday sales are going as expected, with a few nice exceptions. Our miniature games continue their stratospheric sales increases, up 500% from last December. We're expanding 40K as fast as possible, and even more obscure items have become regular sellers. It looks like Games Workshop is officially a success in the new store.
Toys are slow growers and will likely remain so until customers learn we have them. They'll need to be pruned and the mix varied over time. Sales of toys are up 1000% from last year, but we had a meager selection back then. Melissa & Doug remains the big seller, with Thomas being completely and utterly lead, urr I mean dead. I may be liquidating a large portion of Thomas in 2008. Despite big increases, the toy department has sold only a third of what has been sold in the miniatures department, using the same amount of space. A nice start, but not great.
Board games remain even from last year, which is probably not a bad thing. There has been a lot of concern that the Euro game "revolution" may be nearing an end. I've got 30% more board games than last year, which should result in more sales, but at least there's no decline. I'm definitely feeling there's a glut. The hot new board games right now: Zooloretto, Race for the Galaxy, Red Dragon Inn. Surprisingly, the new Settlers of Catan is a very slow seller. In fact, Catan sales never returned after we moved. I may need a sidewalk sign like we used to have. Other good sellers are the perennials: big box Fantasy Flight games, various Ticket to Rides, and Hey That's My Fish. We're also selling Hasbro games again, something we haven't seen for a while.
I think the Hasbro thing has to do with the store layout. The new store is less intimate than the old store. Even if you were just browsing in the old store, we could still strike up a conversation since the place was so small. I really, really miss that. Now customers are often y on their own, and they make choices with little input from me. I'm sure this results in lower sales conversions, but the extra space makes up for it in other ways. This gets the credit for the variety of sales.
Classic games are part of any good game store. These include chess, backgammon, cribbage and fancy playing cards. However, I've been thinking a lot about them lately and I'm debating on whether they're seasonal or not. In other words, I don't think they justify their space in the store during most of the year. I'm told you need to carry some of them during the year to establish your presence as a classic games store, but I honestly see them as a nuisance.
Chess sets for example are difficult to stock as they're as personal as clothing. People want certain materials, certain sizes, certain styles of pieces - Staunton or Russian or worse, Simpsons or Harry Potter. When it gets down to analyzing sales and floor space, classic games are window dressing unless you go whole hog, in which case they're just a slow selling department. I haven't given up on them, but I'm more likely to stock boxed classic games rather than games that need to be displayed, taking up valuable space. Wood Expressions has a new line of games like this, classic games with nice photos of the game on the box, rather than a plain white box that needs unpacking to display the set.
Role-playing games languish. They're down 30%, due to the weak releases from Wizards of the Coast and a general lack of anything new and interesting. The new Conan is moderately successful, and the new Cthulhutech book has me wanting to play -- it's MechaCthulhu. Who doesn't like giant robots and mind crushing alien beings? Most of the sales are back stock, customers coming in and buying the books that came out earlier this year.
People are coming in to shop later, which is surprising. We're open until 10pm each night, and my sales reports are showing strong holiday sales between 7-9pm, when we would have been closed in the old store. Longer holiday hours make sense in this new location. During the day it remains pretty slow, with hours of no activity. The evenings are pretty busy. Last night we had to steal a couple tables for board game night. There was enough open gaming to fill the game center.