The event went off well. It seemed slightly less attended than previous events, but that might be my imagination, since I haven't been back here in two years. My first POS presentation yesterday had about ten people. To my surprise (dismay?), all of them not only had POS systems, but almost all of them were using the advanced stuff I was going over. Gulp. The turn rate discussion was the highlight for them.
In contrast, we had a smaller group today, but none of them had advanced POS experience, and one had no POS. This was the target audience for the presentation and I think those folks got a lot out of the seminar. I think a larger group with mixed experience would have worked out better. Technology is a tough topic too. I think it might make for a better panel discussion than a single presenter.
The one thing that struck me from talking to retailers at this event was that everyone had their special thing they did at their store, and few had stores that did everything well, or at least competitively. Some worked to promote their store through schools. Some focused on local conventions or boffer games. The paintball game stores were there too, a definite Midwest thing. Many were discussing holiday mall kiosks or other ways to extend their holiday sales. I think it comes down to the focus of the owner being the focus of the store. So the bottom line I got from this is that most stores need to find their "core competency" or passion within their store, and follow that.
I don't think Black Diamond Games really has that kind of special thing, but our sales are also unusually broad (maybe that's our thing). Most stores have a sales weak spot, mostly because a competitor owns that local market or because of their location. The mall store that does really well with board games and toys might sell few fantasy games. Most miniature stores seem to do poorly with collectible card games. Role-playing games are the wild cards in this, but because they don't benefit much from game space, and they're ubiquitous and cheap online and off, they're rarely much of a store focus. You either do fine with RPGs or do poorly with them, but nobody talks about them as their store focus.
I think we're lucky in the success of our breadth. This is caused by a couple of things. First, we spent three years running a store with no game space, where all games were given equal treatment. This diversity was the only way to survive what I consider to be an outdated business model. Some games were held back by this approach while others were given more time than they might have in a store with game space. On the positive side, stores with similar experiences seem to come out the other end stronger when they finally figure it out their formula.
Second, the move to the new location with game space and local store closures allowed us to capture a lot of business in multiple categories. Friday Night Magic, for example, is something we don't deserve; it was dropped into our laps. We got lucky. Now we work hard to maintain our Magic events and keep customers happy, but there are things we don't do because of our multi-department focus, like Magic singles and specialized Magic events (I'm returning with ideas for these though).
The big question for us going forward is whether a focus will emerge. Will some games take a back seat to others? Will other competitors emerge to better support a weaker segment? Or better yet, can we keep all the balls in the air and give equal billing to all the departments, maintaining our existing strong sales across the board? I vote for the last one. What I got from this is that we have work to do, but we're doing fine. That guy who hundreds of boxes of Magic doesn't do 40K sales. That guy who brings in dozens of new boardgames can't find a D&D customer to save his life. I can learn from these people how to do my job better, but really, we can all learn from each other.