Saturday, December 29, 2007

Out of Sync

One of the strange features of the game trade is the holiday season. Everyone plans for it months in advance. Manufacturers ramp up production. Distributors attempt to gauge the economy and retailer demand. Retailers stock up, going heavily into debt in hopes of a bright holidays season. Then, in the midst of the frenzy, suppliers go home. The manufacturers shut down, distributors go on vacation, and they wish us retailers a happy holiday season, leaving us with no chance of a re-stock.

Maybe I'm a greedy, soulless business man, but it seems unwise to walk away in the ninth inning of a game. We all want to spend time with our families during the holidays, but this is retail. We need all the troops fighting this final battle, a battle that doesn't end until the end of the year at least. I used to find this situation shocking, but now I know to try to prepare for it. It's a given that retailers will lose sales because of it. There's no way to anticipate demand for everything over a two week period. This is the period where all the regular hobby customers finally have money and return to the store to find .... hopefully shelves with some product on it.

To their credit, I've had several companies stay later this year, allowing me to re-stock my shelves. Battlefront, Alliance, and GTS could have gone home, but they stayed. They made extra money on me this season because of it. Some retailers have told me the job of these folks, is in fact, over, but the reality is that through mid-January, we're getting daily shipments of new product at the same level as in December.

I personally think this is a sign that the hobby game industry doesn't take itself too seriously. Yes, we do business, but we want to have fun too, right? If it was all work, we would be in cubicles or selling computers, right? It's a when push comes to shove situation, an acknowledgment that there needs to be benefits or perks that make up for the shortcomings of the trade.

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