Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Best Damn Clubhouse Store (Tradecraft)

Let's build one. Yeah, the model is broken, but let's make one that works.

Location: We want a Class C retail location, right on the edge of hospitable. It needs to have enough square feet for huge events, seating for 200, but it also has to be presentable to moms and their children. It also needs to include a multi year lease, which makes it potentially a unicorn of a location. Don't go light industrial, go marginal retail.

Concessions: While most full spectrum stores might have half and half retail to game space, you're going two thirds game space to one third retail. You are also going to put in a full snack bar with prepared drinks, either coffee or some sort of funky soda shop. You'll have sandwiches brought in, but you won't prepare them, at least at first. In general, you need to supplement your income with prepared food and drink. You will personally make sure every prepared drink is better than everyone within ten miles and you will master the machine.

Concessions Alternative: You don't like drinking liquids? Alright, you now conquer the secondary market. You buy used games, including used video games. You wheel and deal and sell power cords for X-boxes and tap that market in your community. You now bring in the general public who get angry and swear at you because you won't give them top dollar on Madden 2025. It's cheaper than concessions permits though.

Product Load: Oh dear lord do you have a lot of CCGs. You have every box of Magic obtainable, sold at stupid pack prices. It's alright, even poor selling Magic sells better than every other thing in the game trade. Your single collection is vast, is also sold online at TCGPlayerPro, and you've got a ten grand bankroll in the safe for buying deeper. You are nuts and collect full play sets of absolutely everything ever. You crack 6-10 cases of everything new. This is your "top of mind" experience. You have Towers of Power, searchable collections of singles in boxes around your store, so tall they make the gods in Heaven jealous. You shake your fist at them. Young men tell their families they're looking for a job, but they're worshipping at the Tower of Power all friggin' day long.

You have Pokemon cards and singles as well. You carry a core set of Yugioh singles that everyone recognizes. Anus of Exodia? Yeah, we got that. You dabble with fringe Japanese card games and hopefully you've got someone who cares and can break the habit of this garbage sold at cost online. Good luck with that. Ganbatte!

You carry Asmodee, everything from every line. And that's all when it comes to board games. You make a point of never getting rid of a game until Asmodee themselves gets rid of it. If this segment takes off, perhaps you dabble in other brand value protected board game lines, but you deal in publisher lines not individual games. For now, you become an expert in all things Asmodee: Catan, Star Wars games, Ticket to Ride, you name it. Nobody else gets in. You are an Asmodee company store.

You also carry the Games Workshop stockist line of 40K, the basics of GW, along with their paint line. Again, you buy the new stuff to small degrees, but you don't meander into other miniature games or deeper into this line. You take the low hanging fruit and let the high hanging fruit rot on the ground as it falls. Don't eat that rotten fruit. If this really explodes, go for it. It's all brand value protected. But I warned you about the fruit.

Finally, Dungeons & Dragons, the full line and no more. Spine out. Grudgingly. In the back corner. Maybe with dice in a case. You don't need this line, but it will make you money. If it doesn't work, drop it like its hot. Wizards of the Coast lets Amazon sell this below cost, and they don't provide organized play, so you have no friends here.

Events: Your event coordinators are all employees. Lets get that straight. They work for you, even the Magic judges. Yeah, you'll bribe an L2 when you need one, which hopefully is often, but quality of events is your bag, and this is what's required. Notice how Wizards of the Coast both judges you on your event quality AND demands to be in charge of judges, WHILE telling you judges aren't their responsibility. Play the game.

You run Magic as often as people will show up, and you'll incentivize attendance to make it happen, but you'll also do it profitably. All events are pay to play. All events are professionally managed too. You'll also run Pokemon and Yugioh, with Pokemon players groomed to be future Magic players. This is a major reason why your store needs to be above average, as you are including children in the mix and their justifiably judgmental mothers. When you lose Pokemon, your days are numbered. If you ever find a game to graduate to from Magic, run that too. Bridge? Mah Jong? Why yes!

You buy every organized play kit from Asmodee and you make that shit work. Management bonuses depend on it. You hold regionals for Legend of the Throne Wars and people come from hours away.

With the slack in your schedule, a bad thing I might ad, you run events for your Asmodee and Games Workshop events, but be incredibly reluctant to give up space for D&D or other games that aren't directly adding revenue OR aren't brand value protected. WOTC gets away with Magic because Magic is huge. D&D? Less so.

Staff: You are a CCG maven. You've been playing for years. You compete. You write or make videos, and if not you try it before you start the store. You hire like minded individuals who will both run the store, run events, and make the occasional caramel mariachi. You will endeavor to have a well rounded staff that attempts to have a balance between men and women, as you have a hole to dig out of with a clubhouse style store.

There are no volunteers. There are no crappy events either. You run events you can monetize, and if you can't monetize them, they don't get run. You demo games on the half dozen tables around the store, primarily Asmodee offerings. This structure works better in low wage states, unlike California and Washington, but it can be done there too.

This clubhouse is amazing. Give me a couple hundred grand and I'm all in.

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