Monday, October 24, 2016

Diversification and Board Games (Tradecraft)

There can be only one.

That's my general statement regarding local markets and game stores carrying board games. It's my impression, through personal experience and watching other markets, that one store will get the majority of board game business, enough for strong performance metrics, while the other stores won't get enough. The other stores will dawdle along, wondering why everyone suggested they carry these meeple mishaps in the first place.

I dawdled for several years before my biggest competitor retired and I took up the mantle. While I waited, I learned to play a couple hundred board games and figured out how to manage a board game inventory that was pretty much ignored by my customer base. I often wondered if there was light at the end of the tunnel, what exactly it would take to hit it with board games. Sound familiar? Many stores are in this boat.

There are other factors besides Not being The One. There are an increasing number of sales channels gobbling up a hot board game market, including Kickstarter, Amazon, Target and the flailing of brick and mortar stores on life support like Barnes & Noble and GameStop. You would think that with board game sales taking off nationally, there would be room for stores to jump into the mix, right? The pie should be growing. Nope.

We're seeing a problem where there are simply too many sales channels, combined with too many stores that can't differentiate themselves with their top board game inventory strategy, and most importantly, a glut of too many games being published. This glut means distributors are short ordering, resulting in brick and mortar customers being driven online to find their elusive games and most stores unable to place a heavy pre order to avoid the outage.

When Barnes & Noble carries the top 100 board games, how many board games do you think you need to diversify yourself from them? How many to diversify yourself from your local game store competitor? 500? 1000? Can it even be done if there can be only one?

Unlike Magic, which keeps many stores afloat, you need to own your local market or cede the space. Unfortunately, with Magic in the doldrums, that can mean closing your doors when you can't make board games work for you.

But that's just an observation. I could be wrong.

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