January was one heck of a tough month and I'm glad to put it behind me. Between the sluggish economy, the newness of the store in Concord and it just being January, it's been a trying month with very slow sales (despite a 72% increase from last January). I had planned for this, but I was hoping we had dodged the usual startup problems.
That being said, the new Magic set, Morningtide, was released today with spectacular, much needed sales. Our 30-day supply, what we sold in the first thirty days of the Lorwyn release, was half sold through by this afternoon. Wizards of the Coast has been advertising for a week and we added our TV spot to their schedule as best we could. We sent flyers to our entire customer base advertising our Saturday tournament, so they know it was coming. It also didn't hurt that the two competing card shops closed down between the last release and this one. We've picked up a lot of their sales and their Friday Night Magic group. I'm curious to see what happens tomorrow with our Morningtide release tournament. I'm hoping for a large crowd.
I made a decision this week to hold the line on shrinking margins. Companies that reduce their margin will have their product prices increased to cover the difference. I started with Paizo and Slugfest this week, after they reduced their discount. Rackham was really the first company I boosted, after their margin dipped below 40%. I'm at the point where I honestly don't care if these mid-tier manufacturers and publishers dry up and blow away in the wind. In other words, I'm willing to risk losing sales and dropping product lines in order to survive as a business.
There's the usual talk of how the game trade is in trouble in the game store forums. One observation I always make but don't share is that these complaints usually come from retailers in rust belt states with bad local economies. These stores also seem to be diversified outside of the game trade, making me wonder if diversification makes sense still. In fact, most voices on the topic could be characterized as something other than game store owners: comic book store owners, entertainment store owners, or even card shop owners if that's the only game product they sell. I do have to agree with them that there seems to be a new "economy of scale" that allows larger stores to be more successful. Or maybe it's that initial success eventually results in a larger store?
Oh yeah, and my excitement wained a bit when I learned that the D&D 4 Keep on Shadowfell adventure was pushed back to late May from April. Sigh.