Monday, February 27, 2023

Purchasing Is My Life

After my store re-opened after being closed for two and a half months from California COVID shutdowns, I stayed home. My thoughts were that I had shown mastery during this shutdown and did not need to worry about stepping away. So I stepped pretty far away, not coming in any longer. My job was now purchasing. 

Purchasing is something every store owner does, but it's part of a huge list of tasks. Purchasing went from maybe 10% of my job, something I did when I had time, to my sole job. I still manage finances and some marketing, but I am mostly a buyer. 

What happens when a job that's 10% of your activities becomes nearly 100% of your job? It expands. Or at least it does if you're thinking about it a lot and like growth. You could certainly go home and half ass purchasing like before and spend your time on your Warhammer models. That's not me. Purchasing as a sole pursuit became pretty serious.

Purchasing as my sole job allowed me to open up to the full spectrum of what was available. I opened new distribution accounts, in fact I believe I have an account with every first and second tier distributor. With the segmentation of brands across distributors, it means I have a primary distributor, a secondary distributor, a new release Magic distributor, a restock Magic distributor,  and several last resort, fill in the hole, distributors. I also opened many new direct accounts. Here's my list from the past few years:

  • AEG
  • Asmodee
  • Cephalofair
  • Creature Curation
  • Darrington Press
  • Euorgraphics
  • Foam Brain
  • Hasbro
  • Hipp and Horn
  • Indie Press Revolution (not new, but don't forget them!)
  • Leder Games
  • Monument Hobbies
  • Pandasaurus
  • Penguin Random House
  • Squishables
  • Stonemaier
There are others I tried, but they didn't work out, and I quickly moved on. There are a half dozen other accounts I've outsourced to my manager. "Hey, I don't know anything about this pop culture nonsense, please spend a bunch of money on this." That's mostly Bioworld, Pye Games, Faire (Wild Bill's Craft Sodas) and the like, along with being responsible for Costco orders.

My new purchasing job is now, much to my dismay, a real, full time job! These extra duties have coincided with a tripling of my inventory, so there's always more to order. In any given week, I'm likely to place an order with Asmodee, a new order and restock order with Games Workshop, two orders with my primary, one or two with my secondary, and usually two or three orders with a direct account. It's all based on my Open to Buy worksheet. If there's still money in the purchasing budget, I look to spend it with direct accounts. That money must be spent, unless I'm saving for a big CCG release.

My store is probably a top 10% store, in the multi million dollar category (low multis). This system works very well for me. My understanding is stores that are much larger, or stores that are highly focused in one area, are having problems getting the volume of product they need. Those folks are being hamstrung by the system and that should be addressed. If you are not one of those stores and you find yourself having trouble sourcing product, consider diversifying beyond your one or two suppliers. It doesn't cost anything other than your time. Lots of time. Like all your time. All this work is interfering with my planned life of leisure (a myth I refuse to give up).

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