Saturday, August 25, 2007


Customers sometimes ask if game stores are getting squashed by the mass market. I started messing with a spreadsheet today, my mental equivalent of doodling, and came up with some interesting numbers that verified what I've heard from the game industry: specialty game stores are far too varied and complex for mass market to mess with.

My sales spread looks like some sort of world wealth graph. Half of my sales come from 154 different game companies who comprise no more than 1%, and often far less than that. Each of these games require product knowledge and hand-selling to customers. I have 12,300 individual items (SKU's) in my store. Costco has 4,500. Sam's Club has 4,900. There's no way for big box stores to manage what we do.

The other 50% of sales comes from my top ten companies' and all but three are less than 3% of my sales. It makes me wonder why I put so much energy into discussing company's like Battlefront and Games Workshop when they're each only 3% of my sales. But then it occurred to me that it's what I do. Game stores eek out a living by focusing on little diamonds in the rough. One or two companies may produce steady sellers, but our strength is in our diversity, and the time it takes to cultivate that diversity is our protection against the uninformed mass market that might wish to swoop in and compete.

Even more important is that we build our individual game markets. Game store sales are about what the staff in that store teach and promote. If Target or even another game store took my sales data and opened a store, it wouldn't work. They would lack the knowledge of the product and customer base to make it work. That's why game stores don't mind sharing data. It has no practical value for anyone else.

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