Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Consider "No"

There is a lot of talk about small businesses expanding their portfolio, offering new product or services in this time of recession to make up for dwindling sales. I'm more of a proponent of digging down on the positive and analyzing what works best, and doing more of that, as opposed to taking potential risks on new product or continuing to support marginal product. Anything that bolsters your business identity and helps with sales of existing customers is key. Market to the base. Sell to the base. When it comes to expansion or chasing new markets, "consider no."

For this reason, I've finally said no to poker. Poker has been a thorn in my side since I've had a store. In 2004, 50 count rolls of clay poker chips were going for $30 each. By the end of 2005, the retail price was $5 each. Great, right? Not if you have a shelf full of poker chips for which you paid $15 each. Poker chips have always been a symbol of speculation and loss for me. Poker accessories were just as troublesome, including folding table tops. We had a series of customer buy them during the week and bring them back on Monday, a little worse for wear. The Black Diamond Games rental plan.

Over the last couple of years, chip sets would be sold and later returned at a rate of something like 40-50%. This is the kind of business that rarely gets a return, so it's highly annoying knowing in advance that the sale is probably not going to work out. We are clearly not hitting the mark in that situation. I started developing a return policy just for classic games, much stricter than our lenient store policy. The goal is customer satisfaction, but store satisfaction was certainly lacking. I decided recently to turn my back on poker, along with the monumental headaches and the troublesome sales pattens. I'll sell cards and card shufflers (shufflers have a return rate of something like 25%), but enough already with the chips and table tops.


  1. Wow, I didn't know you had a rental plan. Although it sounds more like a library plan to me.

    Gotta get me some of that.

    I kid, really.

  2. Did you consider simply posting "no returns on Poker related items"?

    Mind you, I have not problem with ditching the line, but I'm curious.

  3. I considered it. In the end it was just one more hassle for too little benefit.

  4. I liquidated my poker immediately after that particular X-mas season, when I bought a ton of poker, and then found that Costco was selling it below my cost. Ouch.

    What a great day when my final roll of pink 12g clay poker chips sold for $1.99.

    On another tack - perhaps you could take your inventory and make "party packages" to rent. Take a deposit, and charge like $100 for a table top, 500 chips, a spinner, and 6 decks of cards. Just an idea...

    Final note - the poker players never became my customers otherwise. However, some of my Magic players tried to become professional poker players. Some did ok.

  5. A follow up post just so the comments get e-mailed to me. Bloggerrific.