Friday, August 8, 2008


I was reluctant to do it, but I ordered a closed circuit TV system today, complete with digital video recorder. I would have much rather added a new product line, or embarked on one of our other projects we had planned, like the POS system upgrade, but the level of theft at the new store is remarkably high. It's depressing and demoralizing and I need it to stop now.

There are a couple of reasons for the increased theft. First, we've moved from a low crime area to an average crime area, as it's tracked nationally. Second, we've gone from a 1,000 sqft store to a 3,300 sqft store, but haven't added an additional employee. This means we have the same employee coverage over three times the space with more likely incidents of theft. It's just too much, yet we can't afford additional employee coverage yet. I'm angry enough to beat a shoplifter to death with the new 40K rulebook, so it's probably time for an alternate solution before I make a mess.

The system should pay for itself quickly if it reduces shrinkage significantly, and should be cheaper than hours for an additional employee. We actually talked about this today, what it would cost for an additional employee to stand in the area with the most shrinkage. You could almost afford to pay them just to keep the bastards from stealing!

Cameras are not the answer to all my shrinkage problems, but I'm hoping they act as a deterrent, and since I bought a decent enough system, the camera resolution should be capable of identifying suspects for the police, although they'll only care if there's a more serious crime. I would like nothing more than to go over how cool the system is, but security is one area of technology I don't discuss.


  1. That stinks Gary! I'm sorry to hear that. I could never understand the logic behind shoplifting from the local game store. Maybe it may be worth a few extra bucks to put a sign up that says "shoplifters will be prosecuted to the full extant of the law." That may help deter High school aged thieves and under. Good Luck!

  2. I am sorry to hear that you have been forced to it, though I think I recommended it some time ago to lower your insurance rates... Still, stupid people doing stupid things suck.

    -The Griffin

  3. How about a sign that says "Shoplifters are stealing food out of my child's mouth {picture of your son}. As a secondary effect, they are also causing you, the customer, to have lesser selection and variety, and ultimately could cause the closure of this business, costing you years of enjoyment. So think about it."

    Or something like that.

  4. Well, it won't change my insurance rates, but it should stop the hemorrhaging.

    Part of my hesitation was that I just couldn't believe that the shrinkage was so high. It was next to nothing in the old store. It's actually not out of whack with retail shrinkage percentages in general. In fact, it's probably lower. But could you imagine sitting around doing nothing while someone steals $7,000-10,000 from you a year? It's literally when an employee has their back turned.

    I like the contents of the sign, but I'm trying to keep things positive in the store. I think a couple stickers noting that we have CCTV should do the trick. And I *will* prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, unless something heavy is at hand first.

  5. Another thing that contributes to "shrink" in the new store is the layout.
    AT the old store, your cards were kept behind the counter (reduces browsing and sales), and your miniatures blisters were mostly on one aisle - right next to the cash wrap. Customers also had to walk the gauntlet past the cash wrap to enter or leave the store. The only "easy to lift" items were the super-cheapo toys at the front.

    I'm assuming that cards and minis are the target areas, since they are small, easy to conceal, and something that people need in quantity.

    Now you have a better layout that allows customers to more easily browse the products. The card packs and miniatures blisters are in areas that make it convenient and simple for customers to browse through the product for their favorite game, and provides a better shopping experience. Unfortunately, it also makes it harder for an employee to keep track of everything, and creates the opportunity for a better shoplifting experience.

  6. If possible could we take the glass display case from the left of the register and switch it with the main counter? We could put the cards in there for safe keeping and avoid shoplifting. The glass counter on the left seems like dead retail space anyway. If anything, put snacks on top of the left counter (where the magic booster currently are located) so that they are clearly visible to the gamers in the back room, tempting them...

    It might help with impulse buy as well. Every time they come up to the counter to pay tournament entry, the cards are right in front of them temping them to buy.

    If you are realy short for space, I can take my army out of the front display so that you can put in whatever you need.


  7. Another possible approach is to lean a little bit on the "third space" communities by posting your "shrink" totals by department/product line.

    This would encourage gamers from each community to police each other, because one shoplifter in their game community reflects poorly on their entire community.

    I know that some people - especially minors - have little fear of police action regarding a few dollars worth of product, but everyone cares about their standing within their peer group.

  8. I was just thinking of that, although it might encourage them to make the score board.

    Stuff that experiences unusually high levels of shrink:

    Yu-Gi-Oh cards
    Magic cards (but much worse before we moved them)
    Card sleeves and boxes. We just had someone steel a "hot red" deck box and space girl sleeves.
    40K blisters, especially space marines.

    Believe me when I say we will be placing cameras to cover these shrink areas and areas where product packaging is found (niches that are hard to see).

  9. "I know that some people - especially minors - have little fear of police action regarding a few dollars worth of product, but everyone cares about their standing within their peer group."

    It's been a while since I was a minor, but I think such actions would just have encouraged my peer group. I had one friend who made a game of it and he wasn't what most adults would've considered a scum bag.

    Cameras are becoming more common everywhere, mainly for identification purposes (considering how many I've put into dental offices and other non-retail places).

  10. Yes, if their peer group encourages antisocial and criminal behavior, then peer pressure won't be a positive factor.

    Of course, having their group banned from the store, or their favorite product line discontinued might case them to engage in some other form of illegal attack on the store.

  11. If you had a way to charge for remote (internet) viewing access, you could put a camera in the game area, and then that one mom could pay to see who her daughter is hanging out with.

  12. That's what I'm afraid of. There are several issues with a camera in the game center:

    1. Some people don't WANT to be on camera. A surprising number of customers say they are somewhere else when they're at our store.

    2. Opponent finder. Some people will use the camera to see if there's anyone playing in the store. If nobody is playing, they don't bother coming. But if they do that, nobody will ever be there when people look on the camera.

    3. Responsibility. I want to know precisely what is going on in the retail space, but I only want a vague idea of what happens in the game center. I don't want to have to arbitrate on players cheating, stealing from each other, accidentally breaking things, falling off their seats, or other asshattery that goes on back there. I definitely don't want to track who goes home with whom. Install a camera and there's this assumed legal responsibility that I don't want.

  13. As for product placement, we'll be optimizing placement for the best camera coverage. We've already started doing that.

  14. "Part of my hesitation was that I just couldn't believe that the shrinkage was so high. "

    Welcome to the world of Warhammer - the hidden world.

    Our GW shrink was massive compared to everything else. I suspect some of it (perhaps a lot of it) was internal, but certainly we caught several people stealing GW, and at least one guy ran really fast that I didn't catch.

    It's a new cost, that will factor another 2-3% of your GW COGS, at least.

    The worst part is that all of a sudden you start suspecting everyone. Which is ok, but kind of sucky too, if you know what I mean.