Happy New Year!
The great thing about running a small business is that you can turn on a dime. I can make plans today and completely change them tomorrow. I can drop entire product lines and add new ones, cancel events and schedule replacements, and generally improve or screw up my business faster than anyone out there.
There's a certain level of incrementalism you learn by running your own business. Slow change is not exciting, but a slow approach helps you survive. The ability to turn on a dime is tempered by you limited resources. My first year in business was straight survival. Year two I thought I had some things down and my motto was "think outside the box." We hired a full time eBay sales person, sold used video games, and tried out a variety of schemes, most of which have been abandoned. It was disastrous. We lost money and most importantly, we lost focus. Losing focus is the kiss of death. Year three the motto became "think inside the box." The key to a small business, I think, is to do one thing and do it really, really well. Being able to make quick changes should probably be limited to your areas of expertise. Now we enter year four.
Year four will be about fine tuning and accessorizing. Our game center is the focus of our activities and games that do well there will be supported in the store. Likewise, we'll be doing our best to focus games selling well in the store back to the game center. A 40K kids night will be our first addition, to address our growing crowd of young players, and to grow that young crowd further. 40K is the undisputed winner of the last quarter and you'll likely see that section of the store continue to expand.
We're also looking at adding more gaming accessories, such as t-shirts, posters, and various items from a company called Accoutrements. They make those pirate bandaids, ninja lunchboxes and various fun items that are half kitsch, half toy. The toy section will stay but will be fine tuned. We can reduce the Thomas section by half without losing selection, for example. The Melissa & Doug stuff has been a big hit. For the gaming purists out there, know that about a third or more of the "toy" section is actually games, like jigsaw puzzles, card games and similar items. Comics won't be expanded, but we'll probably slowly rotate the trade paperbacks adding new titles to keep those who buy comics as "gamer accessory" happy.
Besides what's mentioned, the industry will take care of adding new product for us. One mistake a new store can make is to spend their holiday money on what was hot last year rather than saving it for the hot properties of the coming year. Warmachine and Hordes have a ton of new releases this year and 40K has orks coming out over the next month or so. With strong Warhammer Fantasy sales over the holidays, we'll look at what we can do to add selection there as well. D&D 4.0 will be out in June, and the 40K role-playing game is due soon. Our board game collection will continue to expand with new titles released each week. We'll likely shrink our terrain section to make room for the Confrontation miniatures game. The most interesting additions for 2008 probably don't exist yet. I'll let you know all about them when I go to the Gama Trade Show in April.