Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Recommendation Blahs

It's that time of year again when newspapers pay attention to board games for a few weeks before going back to scaring the bejesus out of everyone with what they think is wrong with the world. Yes, I am a bid jaded, and it's because people pay attention to these articles. Most of them ignore the dozens of excellent games that have come into our little specialty realm over the last year, and instead focus on the annual mass market board game schlockfest. Hooray, another version of Scrabble, Sorry or Trivial Pursuit (which is not really a game). These articles I generally ignore, sending customers off to Wally-World and Toys R Us. I can't get these games at a reasonable price because the manufacturers won't sell them to me, so it makes little sense to stock them. It's the specialty game articles that are a pain in my back side.

These articles usually list some excellent games along with some real dogs. Unfortunately, people will not be deterred from their desire for these dogs, regardless of my persuasions. Instead, I've learned to stock these poop spewers, with the unfortunate result that nobody will ever buy them again once the holiday season is over. They suck. I know they suck. Everyone who has done an ounce of independent research knows they suck. But the newspaper says otherwise, so how could it suck? The best we can do is stock up and prepare for what we think people should buy, a wide assortment of excellent games in various cartegories with various price points. At the same time, while trying not to vomit, we stock up on the games from the newspaper articles, hopefully not too deeply unless we want to dump them on clearance in two years. It's best to just go with the flow and let these so-called self-informed customers do their shopping.

My advice? If you don't play board games now, there's nothing particularly thrilling or special about 2008 releases or the articles that highlight them. This is not the video game world where Madden 2008 suddenly invalidates the existence of Madden 2007. Get some advice on some solid games that have been around a few years. I still print out a newspaper article with game recommendations from 2004, because the article lists good games and nothing has changed that fact in four years. We also have a handout in the store listing good "starter" games at various price points. Some are new this year, some are more seasoned.


  1. It's the countless versions of Monopoly that really get me. As far as I'm concerned, Monopoly is the least fun board game in existence, and while there are tales of it being able to end, I don't believe them.

    And I say this in full knowledge that you have a stack of various versions of Monopoly by the door. Sorry, I'm sticking to Arkham Horror, with Agricola if I want competitiveness...

  2. Monopoly in all its version is a game we carry, but not a game we sell. Nobody is ever sold Monopoly, they decide on their own that among the 500+ board games we have carefully selected, that a themed variant on a tired 1930's game is best for them. It's a case of "the customer is always right," but it doesn't mean I actively push this stuff.

  3. Good distinction there. After all, it might as well be you rather than Wallyworld taking money for said tired 1930s board game...

  4. Monopoly is a game that you have in your store to tell the "muggles" you are a "game" store, and they will understand what is meant by that phrase. Same with Chess sets...

  5. It's considered a "merchandising" expense, meaning the item plays more of a marketing role than a legitimate product. We carry a large array of Hasbro games for the same purpose.

    Chess sets and classic games have only recently worked as something more than a merchandise expense. They key is to carry boxed sets at a variety of price points and dropping any specialized sets. We tell customers we can special order fancy sets, and they do on occasion.