Running a store is not like a relationship, it is a relationship. The saying the customer is always right is a a rough attempt at goading the unresponsive into considering customer service. The reality is the customer is often wrong, unreasonable or simply not really your customer. When the customer is wrong, the customer is generally not happy. That's just part of the relationship, but it absolutely is a relationship. Don't mistake that.
Unhappiness is a misalignment of expectations. Nobody is unhappy about something they don't care about, a business or person that isn't highly relevant to them. They're unhappy because the potential for more is there in the relationship, but it's unfulfilled. Your business is not living up to the relationship expectations you've both agreed to. Sometimes this leads to a break up, which is fine, but more often than not, it leads to a simmering, unhappy, begrudging courtship. Again, this means you're still relevant in their life, you're just not making them as happy as you once did. You can feel it in customer interactions, where your Venn diagrams are just not overlapping.
A store owner has many considerations in customer happiness, the biggest being stock and in the game trade, corresponding events. Stock is going to change. Games will come and go, wax and wane. That's just part of business and if you don't monitor this, you will absolutely fail or flounder about. Not stocking what the customer wants leads to unhappiness, and because we're in a relationship, the accusation that you don't care.
Caring about stock is actually dangerous, and I've made plenty of bad decisions based on personal attachment to inventory, both new and stuff that just had to go. But the customer is not talking about your relationship with your stock, they're talking about the emotional connection you personally have with them, expressed through your inventory practices. I almost said inventory choices. What they don't understand is there are few choices, just practices. You may love 40K, but if you can't sell it, what choice do you have? None, really.
So we're stuck with this accusation of no love based on stock practices. Imagine your wife stops making you sandwiches because she realizes it's not something she wants from the relationship anymore. You need to make your own sandwich, she has work to do, and it's no longer in her best interest after ten years. She still loves you, but no more ham and cheese will be forthcoming in a between bread format. So you make your own sandwich and eat it in the corner, pouting about how you're no longer loved. All stores have customers like this. They don't go away, they pout. We still love them. They don't believe us.
Does this make sense? That I should be expressing my love for you based on inventory management practices? Of course not, but it's where we're at with relationship marketing. If someone else were willing to make a sandwich for you, provided the relationship was otherwise the same, they would be out the back door in no time.
Run a store long enough, and believe me, your customers will be complaining to their "other woman" on a regular basis. I know this because every ... single ... game store in the San Francisco Bay Area has been brought up to me with customer complaints about how they had their feelings hurt, or how there were no more sandwiches. I often defend the "other woman," mostly because I know I might insist they go make their own damn sandwich one day, plus I'm sure my sandwich practices are being discussed as well. However, they will hear none of it. They sniff around, settle in, and our relationship begins.
Personally? I want everyone to have sandwiches. I want to serve all the condiments. I want to run a store that doesn't have to worry about inventory management, or whether players are using space to play games while buying models across town or online. I want to live in a mythical world of 80's game stores where I set the tone of the demand and supply, and customers follow my lead and there are sandwiches for one and all. Sandwiches of my choosing, which will all be delicious (because I like them). That world just doesn't exist though. I use metrics and trends and am either on my way into or out of a game at any given time, and the number of true, exclusive customers is shockingly small.
So what should you do about this sandwich situation? What can you do?