Game stores want to support the games they carry as much as possible. The biggest limitation of that support is inventory, a zero sum game, where to carry one game, a piece of the pie must be taken from another. I only have so much money to spend and that number doesn't change. There is only so much pie, and everybody wants some. So how do you determine who gets pie? Performance of inventory can be done a number of ways, but the most common, for those who measure who gets pie, is turn rates.
A solid store will do an overall average of 3-4 turns a year, meaning their inventory will sell, on average, that number of times. If you have $100,000 in inventory, $300,000-400,000 in gross sales is good. Don't get all excited, with a 7% net margin (a bistro math average), that's only $28,000 in profit. That overall turn number can be broken down further, and certain game categories have higher or lower turns.
For example, CCGs have really high turns, probably in the 8-16 range, which is why they're so popular and why so many small stores can survive with them. One box of CCGs sells four times better than the average game trade product. More board games or more CCGs? That's a dumb question if you need more CCGs. A bad Magic product just about outperforms everything else.
When it comes to miniature games, we run into a problem. You can still get your 3-4 turns on a really strong, well supported miniature game, but there comes a point where the system breaks down. That happens with SKU creep. The manufacturer continues to add more and more models without discontinuing old ones. If the store continues to carry all those models, there is no amount of sales that will support that inventory number.
For example, I count 362 Warmachine items available from my distributor, averaging $29 each. Carrying all of them is around $10,500 at retail. Privateer Press puts out models nearly every month for almost a decade while discontinuing very, very few models. To get four turns a year, I need to sell $42,000 in Warmachine. Alas, I get about half that number, so I either flounder along at 2 turns a year on my very popular, absolutely superb, nothing wrong with it Warmachine (close to what I do), or, as a business person, I carry half the Warmachine catalog. Or I get nervous and sell off half my lowest selling inventory to my confused customers who think their game is doing well at the store (it is).
I want to carry it all, but using inventory metrics, it would lead me to the conclusion that Warmachine is broken, and perhaps not viable for my store, for any store maybe. But I know I'm doing well with it, so I pick and choose, but I'm really only offering my customers a paltry 50% of what's available. That makes my store less than great. 50% is a failing grade. It makes my customers shop online or with my competitors; usually both. So great game. I theoretically do well with it, but SKU creep has crippled my ability to serve my customers while maintaining a viable business model.
So what to do? Speaking to manufacturers, cut back your catalog. Let things go out of production permanently, or brought back for special releases. You know who does this really well? Man, I hate to even say it, but Games Workshop. Games Workshop manages their inventory like gods. The beings at Games Workshop are Gods of Inventory. They're rarely out of things they intend to have. They carry what works and they stop selling what doesn't. Things on their core list are meant to sell well and usually aren't there because they add character. Plus they revise their core list regularly to maximize sales. At least that's what GW did in the past, before their core motivation became direct sales.
The down side is customers hate this. Whenever we're talking GW, this is the one place where I go, "Au contraire (because I took French in high school), this is where Games Workshop has it right." But it's true, customers want their models to live on in the rules and on the shelves forever. But you know what? We're running a business here. GW can't produce those models reliably forever, just as Privateer Press can't supply the demand through distribution now. You should hear the frustration on that end. It's just not happening and hasn't happened for years. Fixing this means obsoleting SKUs before they overwhelm the retailer, while maintaining a happy customer base. How you walk this fine line is your problem, manufacturer. But if you ask me, cut your dead wood, your long tails, and just let that stuff go. Don't write it out of the universe, just stop making it. Oh, and make more combo boxes so I can build twelve different models from a box of plastic bits with one torso.
And this is why game stores would rather focus on CCGs and board games.