Sunday, January 24, 2016

90% Punches and Kicks (Tradecraft)

I once studied aikijutsu in college, a kind of battlefield aikido.  We worked on holds and throws in the hopes we would one day prove worthy to advance to training with wooden swords. Our instructor showed up drunk one day, something it turned out he would occasionally do, and proceeded to yell at us. "This martial art is 90% punches and kicks!"  I hadn't learned a punch or kick since I started, so the message was, you people know nothing.

When it comes to hobby game retail, we spend a lot of time talking about things that are not the 90% punches and kicks. Retail hasn't really changed much in pretty much forever, yet we rarely talk about retail fundamentals like inventory management, cash flow techniques and improving net margins. Instead we talk about events, the hottest Magic card, and the latest employee drama (rather than how to create systems for managing employees).

So why do we practice all these complicated techniques, discussing them endlessly online, when we really don't have a firm grasp on the fundamentals? The obvious answer is money. The biggest problem game stores have is undercapitalization, and the vast majority of distracting discussions is because the real solutions to game trade problems is not only out of reach, but beyond the comprehension of the average "buy a job" owner.

Nobody began by asking what do I need to be successful with a hobby game store, they started with a small amount of money and worked hard to see where it would lead them. They need to keep their balls in the air which does not lend much time to juggle fancy new concepts, like how to actually make money. You can change this though. You can put the petty concerns of fat pack pricing and handling your latest card shark on hold and you can say to yourself, I need to learn punches and kicks.

I am no drunken master. I don't want to put myself in the position of the drunk aikijutsu instructor, so instead I'll just reiterate that we all really need a better understanding of punches and kicks, the fundamentals.  Stop being a gamer store owners and start being a business owners. If you're looking for a time and a place to learn some punches and kicks, let me suggest Las Vegas, March 14th-18th.

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