As predicted a few things happened this week.
First, Blackhawk, one of the game distributors, tacked on a $5 handling charge on shipments. This is the three tiers of the game world looking around as to who should pay for increased fuel costs. Yep, it's the disorganized game store tier.
Again, the solution is to raise prices and accept the reality of inflation, rather than to put your head in the sand and squeeze other businesses. Fuel prices aren't going to be dropping significantly anytime soon. Game stores are terrified of passing on costs to customers, since they face such intense price competition.
We should drop the free freight concept and net price everything, like every other industry in the world. With net priced items, the store pays freight and just tacks that on to the cost of an item. It's probably a 5% price increase or so, but it's going up. All toys, for example, work this way.
I also wonder with globalizations cost for fuel, how long it will be before "Made in America" is something the far left of the political spectrum starts looking for like the far right. It certainly won't be profitable to produce things here unless fuel costs really go ballistic, but I could see it as a value demanded by consumers. Unfortunately, it's probably too late for that. I have customers coming in regularly asking if something is made in China. I want to ask them how much more they would pay for something not made in China, two to ten times as much? This country got itself dependent on cheap, Chinese made goods, much to the detriment of small business. They can't suddenly wake up one day and expect everything to be made in freakin' Detroit.
Second, the first newspaper article on board games for the holidays came out in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. I had a heads up from the author, the Chronicles music critic, who sent all the local game stores lists of games he was going to review. What he didn't send were his actual reviews, which are dubious. Several games, like 10 Days in Asia, haven't been released yet, which gives me the impression he was reviewing what he was sent by publishers. Some negative reviews were of highly acclaimed games, such as Zooloretto (2007 German board game of the year), Pillars of the Earth (2008 Games 100 Game of the Year) and Race for the Galaxy (a new game, currently with an 8.0 on boardgamegeeek).
It sounds like the author, Joshua Kosman, actually played these games with friends, which is a good start.Perhaps they just didn't like them. A couple points though: First, there are enough other reviews to look at that perhaps he might want to see if a game is bad because his particular group doesn't care for it, based on theme or mechanics. Zooloretto, for example, is a great family game, but I personally don't find it to my taste. It doesn't make it bad. Second, there are so many new games this year, does an article with limited space really need to list so-called bad games too? With so many new games out this year, I could easily write a long article on just the good ones. These little men with hats jumping on their chairs are fine for movie reviews, I suppose, but there really are some great new games that could have been mentioned.
Anyway, customers came in looking for some of these games, a couple made big purchases of the ones on the list and other games I steered them towards (including Zooloretto, yeah for me!). The real value of the article was introducing new people to Euro games. I had enough time today to talk to these new customers and explain to them the concept of the Euro games (and these lame holiday review articles). I'm hoping a new world opens up for them.