Part of managing our Game Center expansion is the necessity of putting quite a few carts before their prospective horses. You have to pay architects many thousands of dollars before we can learn if we can actually afford the project. We need to apply for a loan to pay the architects before we know if any of this is viable. We need to begin planning our design and testing things like new chairs before we pull the trigger on buying over a hundred of them. So I can say with some certainty that we're planning to add a Kickstarter component to our Game Center expansion.
The Game Center expansion is actually an ideal Kickstarter project. Unlike asking you to get our store off the ground, adding furniture, fixtures or equipment (known as FFE), or acquiring inventory, the Game Center is not an asset we will own. The expansion of the Game Center is a tenant improvement, so it's adding value to someone else's property, and since we lease our space, it's not ours. It's instead an impermanent addition to Black Diamond Games that will be used by the community for as long as our business is in that location. So it makes sense to attempt to "share the load" on the project. Plus, with Kickstarter, the project can be better.
We're severely cost constrained on this project, since I need to demonstrate it will give us a solid return on investment (ROI) and there's only so much of a loan we can afford to acquire. It's a very expensive project already, with architectural and engineering costs approaching new BMW territory. Believe me, sometimes I wonder if a new BMW would be a better decision. I suppose you should know that with this project, I won't be driving a BMW, and in fact I'm putting up my cars as collateral. I've got quite a bit of skin in this game.
This project will strengthen the community focus of our store. It will allow more events, bigger events, special events. Since we've been thinking about this for years, I can say with certainty that expanding our Game Center is the right decision.
Second, Kickstarter allows us to take a step back from the ROI. It allows us to shoot for the moon, if people will share the dream with us. For example, we can purchase tables and chairs of a higher caliber, rather than disposable "Lifetime" Costco chairs that are hard to clean. We can integrate electronics to help us manage events. We can introduce "privacy curtains" for member areas (that's a new thing). We can put in better flooring that's both easy to clean and comfortable to stand on. We can generally expand the project planning to be of a more premium caliber. So the Kickstarter both ensures the project happens and makes it significantly better.
This week we were approved for our loan by Opportunity Fund, a California microfinance lender that helps community based small businesses. It turns out banks still turn down the majority of businesses that apply for loans, and this non profit has stepped in to help us.
Next week we hope to have the architects basic deliverable for the contractor. But now? Now we move forward knowing that with a Kickstarter component, this is going to happen one way or another. There are still many variables. Costs are still being determined. Negotiations with our property manager will need to ensure our lease is extended past our loan date. The city has to approve the final plans, although we're very strongly front loading that with proper project planning with the architects. Kickstarter? Kickstarter can be both a project guarantee, a project enhancement, and a vote of support from our community.
With that vote of support will come perks. We're still working out the details. Besides various forms of acknowledgement, we're planning on implementing a gym membership model for our Kickstarter supporters. Imagine a reserved, "premium" area where you can play the games you want, when you want, and if we can do it, the aforementioned privacy curtains to cut down on noise and distractions. We're also considering commissioning a project or two from the publisher community. Imagine a custom Pathfinder adventure from a well known author with a Black Diamond theme, available only to Kickstarter supporters.
We're also looking for ideas to allow publishers and possibly distributors to participate. Sponsorship of various sorts will be available and a wall of prominently displayed logos or even framed posters is likely going to be part of this.
We're still brainstorming this area, so if you have ideas of your own, please share them below. For the most part though, you get to help us help our community by expanding their space. Also, I want to ask you to please spread the word that this is coming. Let your friends know it's on the way. Kickstarter is all or nothing, and awareness that this is on the horizon would help our cause tremendously. Thanks!