Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Magic Box Prices

Discussions over box prices and how the FLGS should really focus on their snacks tend to arise on the Internet every few years. It is believed that: A) Game stores are ripping off their customers with their box prices and, ironically, B) Game stores can't possibly survive by selling a commodity product like Magic. This "it can't be done" attitude arises because nobody understands business. It's not surprising when our margins are so thin, you need a spreadsheet to figure it all out. Here's a primer on Magic box prices and how they work within my business.

Box Prices

My best price is $91.12 for a box of Phyrexia All Will Be One draft boosters. Draft boosters are unpopular nowadays. Before they were just boosters, the boosters, with the 36 count format everyone is familiar with. The oldest box I can find in my point of sale system with a verified price is Saviors of Kamigawa from 2005 at $74.39. That price, adjusted for inflation, should be $115.25. Wizards of the Coast has done a fine job at keeping the price low.

Let it be known there is no set net price for this product. I pay $91.12 from one distributor, $92.70 from another, and $95.16 from a third. I may pay any of those prices based on availability or possibly to round off an order for free freight. In the case of Set booster boxes, I needed all three of these suppliers, at three different price points, to get the amount of product I needed. The allocation from each of these suppliers failed to meet my needs, despite a pre order from all of them.

The price I pay is based on my business with that distributor. A smaller store likely pays more than me. A larger store could see somewhat lower prices, but not by a lot. This contributes to the confusion amongst the uninitiated. How much does a game store pay for a box of Magic? It depends. Probably between $89-95. We're a long way from the days of $74.

What I Charge For a Box

I sell only to my local market. I do not sell online. That means I only order an amount to satisfy my local market. It's still a Toyota Corolla sized order, a Camry if it's a hot set. I have no strong incentive for volume purchases, which would result in my pricing more competitively to move that product. I buy for my people.

There are stores who don't care about box sales and will simply keystone a box, meaning doubling the cost. Keystoning a box of draft boosters would bring the price to around $190. Very few people will buy a box for $190, and that's fine for those store owners trying to hold the line. The price a few years ago, when there was an MSRP and the costs hadn't gone up, was around $145 a box. Many customers still live in this world, with boxes discounted to under $100 online.

But that doesn't answer the question of how much do I sell a draft box for.

Commodity Pricing

My goal is to competitively sell this commodity product, a plentiful staple of Magic players, available everywhere, at market rates, tracked like a stock. I do not care what my local competitors are selling for, I am competing on the national market for sales. My price is around the TCGPlayer median price, plus or minus. It can be higher to a degree. I run a premium store with higher costs and I would like higher margins. If I have a smaller supply, I can afford to sit on higher priced product, but that's generally not how Magic works. Still, there is maybe a 10% variance before I lose a significant portion of my sales.



I currently sell my draft boxes for $125. If you look at the graphic above, that is within a penny of the TCGPlayer median price right now. Because I don't sell to a worldwide market, if I reduce my price to something lower, like $110/box, my local customer base won't move the sales needle. Sure, they'll buy another box or two, but at a significant cost to me.

My Margin

My gross margin to survive is around 45%. With a lot of work, last year we managed 47%. Now let's look at that draft box:

A draft box sold at $125, with a cost of $91.12, has a gross margin of 27%. That's pretty bad. If the whole store were at 27%, I would be out of business. Even worse, check out some of the COVID era sets and you might notice that some prices are below these costs. Stores are dumping these titles at a loss, just to pay their rents. It warps the perception of Magic prices, since the floor is artificially lower

So how do I get to my 47% overall store margin? Well, it's sure as heck not selling Magic the Gathering. I run a diversified store. I buy high margin liquidation items and constantly shop for bargains. We should clear a couple million dollars a year in sales this year and CCGs will be about a third of that. The best way to sell low margin product is quickly, with borrowed money, and that's exactly my goal. I buy the amount of product I expect to sell when my bill is due in 30 days. Most stores have no terms, so they buy the amount they managed to save up. I do have a Corolla worth of COVID era dead Magic, but we don't need to discuss that. I can afford to wait. I still believe you should never bet against Magic.

In Conclusion

This is fine. I've been doing this for 18 years. I have sold Magic at full MSRP, and at deep discounted prices. I have tried singles, sold them online, and decided the labor costs are too high and the investment too great. We run three Magic events in store each week that get from 12-40 people. There are 17 other event options customers would love us to run, if we had the interest and the coordinator. How much thinner can we slice this onion?

I make pretty good money in year 18. In fact, I've finally surpassed my last IT job's salary from 2004, adjusted for inflation. It only took nearly two decades and the best earning years of my life to get to parity. I wrote a book on how you can make such wise financial decisions.

I make that money by being well diversified, constantly reinvesting in my business, and focusing intently on where my customer wants intersect with my business needs. For now, a 27% gross margin on Magic boxes is fine. I can imagine a time where it won't be. I certainly won't put up with that with other card games. One day Magic might be viewed as that other card game. I am a retailer; I will find something else to sell.

Please share this to someone who needs to hear it.




Thursday, January 19, 2023

Purchasing Wizard Wanted


Do you like to buy stuff? Do you enjoy shopping? Do you like to find shiny things that delight you and your friends? Are you sad because you have a limited budget and would like to buy thousands of dollars of things? How about millions of dollars? Would you like to surround yourself with a wonder emporium of your own making? Would you like to aspire to making $50,000 a year, while juggling a million dollars of revenue while chasing the Next Big Thing? Boy do I have a job for you!

It seems lost on a lot of people in the hobby game trade that the primary job of a store owner is buying. Sure, they understand we buy, but they have a vague idea of how much we buy, the immense scale. Even the smallest store owner is responsible for a six figure purchasing budget in a year. Larger stores? Seven. That's right, store owners are walking around, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, ten, twenty, a hundred thousand dollars a month, on cardboard and plastic. Even small store owners are likely hitting six figures in a year.

Our buying jobs are ridiculous. Sometimes we buy on sliding discount sales, moving targets. We are expected to place pre orders and back orders using obtuse tools, like static spreadsheets. A million dollars of sales a year in games, with orders tracked on a spreadsheet. We use them, distributors use them, publishers use them. Every week my primary distributor sends me a 900 line spreadsheet of what I have on order, sorted by the order the sales rep put it on the spreadsheet. Astonishing.

How may of the seven Pokemon releases arriving two months from now would you like to pre order? I shall take 5X. Well, I can get you 2X of SKU 1, 4X of SKU2, 1X of SKU3, etc., etc. And we chase this product across the multiverse through a handful of distributors, with a margin of error for the distributor that always ships late, and the distributor who sometimes loses the order (doesn't happen to me, but happens often enough to others). 

We shall get some safety stock from the poor margin, but reliable distributor. We will pay several different prices that will hopefully cost average to success. We chase product through distributors, direct with publishers, and somewhat indirectly and ridiculously inefficiently on Kickstarter. This IS the job of owning a store. Everything else is details.

A lot of small stores have one distributor and take whatever X is. They often have no product, while I'm trying to manage crazy overstock. We are often, like in the case of Wizards of the Coast, forbidden from selling to these stores. They could fill out a form and order from another distributor, but they don't for some reason. Maybe it's scary. Maybe they don't have the budget, so what's the point?

Buying is the most important thing in retail. You could be an entirely incompetent sales person. You could have the personality of a brick. You could shove your product into vending machines and watch behind one way glass. You could have (gasp) no game space, no marketing of any sorts. If you were an expert buyer you would clean up. 

Buying isn't just ordering, it's a dance of research, finance, purchasing, selling, inventory management, and liquidation. The experts, those really good at this, are expert buyers AND expert sellers. As sellers they know their customers, research product, attend trade shows, and demo the heck out of what works. They manage money like a boss. But if you had to choose buying or selling? They would tell you it's mostly in the buying.

Once the balls are in the air, the inventory bought, todays sales pay for last months invoices, in a Rube Goldberg, perpetual motion machine. Stores without terms, most new ones nowadays, skimp on small releases to save up for the big release. They have been taught leverage is dangerous and to avoid it, rather than credit being a great opportunity.

An expert buyer would be flush with cash, have no excess inventory and no liquidation needs. An expert buyer wouldn't be able to spend the money fast enough. An expert buyer is like Gandalf the wizard: Inventory is never late, nor is it early (Bilbo Baggins). Inventory arrives precisely when you mean it to.

The better Gandalf you are, the more efficient your store, the more money you'll make. It's a painfully tedious job. It's a job that has barely changed in the 18 years I've done it, other than massively growing ten fold. It's a job that could be automated significantly better with technology. It's a job that would have been impossible at my current scale, 18 years ago, without the minuscule technological advances. I love the job. You can't have it. If you were a purchasing Gandalf, I could never afford you. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Customer Service and Profiling

As a bored high school student, I decided to take a community college course at the nearby military base. It was called Patrol Procedure, where we learned how to be a cop. One of the things that struck me was we were taught racial profiling. We learned the Sesame Street lyric, "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things doesn't belong." I didn't think anything of it at the time. This must be what it's like being a cop.

Later I went off to college, bought a beat up muscle car (they were cheap then) and regularly visited the upscale middle class community of my parents. This community was known for their overly attentive police department. I got pulled over in my beat up muscle car a lot.

Officers would look at me, check my license with my parents address on it, and give me a warning for things like going around a corner too quickly. I always made sure my car was in good working order, to avoid getting pulled over, which was hard as a poor college student. I was being profiled based on my out of place car. One of these things is not like the other...

Racial profiling does not work in preventing crime. Let's get that straight. We know this now. You might think racial profiling works, but it's bad because it's a net that drags in every person of color. But that would be incorrect. There is no evidence racial profiling prevents crime. It's lazy policing that intimidates the local community. It certainly has no place in retail.

When I recently received a couple bad reviews because customers felt staff were overly attentive, racially profiling them, I had to wonder. Are my staff racially profiling? Maybe they think this is a form of loss control? You have to assume the worst first.

The assumption is yes, until it's proven otherwise. Our training entails a high degree of customer attention. Customers are greeted when they enter, approached when there's time to see if they need anything, and if possible, a follow up. Three points of contact. You'll likely get no points of contact at Wal-Mart, unless they've got a greeter at the door. It's shown if you greet someone, they're less likely to steal from the store.

Staff are also trained in loss control, but trained to a lesser degree. Ask how many have caught shoplifters and my guess is only the manager will raise his hand. The training is bad because we're bad at it. Where there's poor quality training, there's staff making stuff up, self training. That can be bad. In any case, where there's a negative perception, there is an opportunity for training.

This attention could also be benign. Customer service attention is not only unusual in the big box reality of todays retail, but it might be seen as profiling. Just as "courtesy can be mistaken for flirtation," you could say "service can be mistaken for profiling." Again, you want to give the customer the benefit of the doubt, and start from there. How can we provide a high level of service while making everyone comfortable?

I'm not sure we need to overhaul what we consider good customer service. I do think we need to be aware that our high level of service can be mistaken for profiling. That service might even be turned on to a higher level for people of color, which would be a mistake.

I have to admit in the past I've been overly enthusiastic when people of color (or women) showed interest in hobby games. I try to keep cool, but it's been like living in a California Zen monastery, with a sea of white dudes. That has thankfully changed significantly in the last decade, due to reasons both in and out of our control.

I think the solution to this profiling problem can be as simple as treating everyone with the same level of service, while being aware that people can be sensitive to that attention. The culture may have changed, especially for young people, whose retail perceptions are formed by brushing up against multinational retailers.

All of these things are just like the other. All of these things always belong.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Failing Upward

 If you don't like failing on a continuous basis, small business is probably not right for you. They say an entrepreneur is someone who fails early and often, knowing when to cut their losses and move on. That moving on for an entrepreneur might be realizing they didn't build for scale, so they sell what they've built. For a small business owner, there is no early and often failure. You fail and you might lose your house. Entrepreneurs are all about gambling with Other Peoples Property. Us small business owners fail differently.

Small business failure is calculated. Failure is constant trial and error. The important part of our failure is risk management. For example, there is an amount of product I buy for my store. If I bring in too much, it doesn't matter how many sales I made, I'll lose money. If I bring in too little, I leave money on the table, and I fail to offset my other failures, of which there are many. I have failure all around me, so I need winners to shore up my shortcomings. 

Over time, I fail less. In the aggregate, I'm winning! I never stop failing, I just do a better job with my failures. I assume failure. I create systems to manage failure. I embrace failure as a learning experience and use it as an opportunity for others.

I love this. That's right. My brain is tickled by this entire Rube Goldberg small business machine. I enjoy the learning process. I get caught up in other peoples excitement for new product and opportunities. I  embrace the heartbreak that comes with the inevitable failure of absolutely every product or service. Entropy is not just my friend, she's my lover. If this sounds dark, well yeah, it is! It will crush your idealism and it's often important to keep me away from the young and enthusiastic. I will crush your spirit, purely by accident, whether you're a game designer or new employee. I admit I love the game, not the player. Best to keep that under my hat. Send Gary back home to work.

Back to failure: It is assumed I will be failing daily. However, my failures must be offset by my wins. December is a month that I've often expressed as when sins are forgiven. Strong sales, clearing out dead wood, allows us to overlook our mis-picks and poor forecasting. All this failure leads to profit and I can bask in the glow of a flush bank account. I'll pay some bills, buy some toys, save up for a project, squirrel away money for taxes, and expect a lean first quarter where I'll question my life for the thousandth time. Fail early and often, but make sure your successes outweigh your failures. Retailers are like squirrels, working like mad, collecting nuts for the winter, knowing when to eat them and when to hide them. If I could give one piece of advanced retail advice: Know what to do with your nuts.  

A finance friend recently said that investments are great, but you, the individual, need to build your own returns through effort. You collect the nuts, the finance guy can only tell you which tree to put them in. Everyone needs to be entrepreneurial. I'm not so sure about that. I'll be the first one to read your business plan, but I'll also admit running a business is not right for everyone. It's not right for the vast majority of people. The percentage of adults who own their own businesses is 9%. Of those 9%, willing to risk it all, only 35% manage to stick around by the 10 year mark. That's about 3% of the population that know how to fail upwards. Are you inspired yet?



Saturday, November 12, 2022

Price's Law or Exponential Incompetence

You are probably familiar with the 80/20 rule, or Pareto's Principle. I've written about what I call Altuchers Rule or 80/20/20 (20% of your 20% are your core clients). Now let's look at Price's Law, and how it might be useful in thinking about small business. The law states half of the total contribution is made by the square root of the total number of participants. If the language sounds vague, it's because it was originally about contributions to academic papers. It has been applied to the workplace somewhat successfully though and if you've worked in enough places, it certainly rings true. It's horrifying, but not surprising.

I've had small business colleagues complain about the productivity of their staff, with complaints getting more numerous as their business grows. In small business, the owner is usually a workhorse. Employees are reluctantly hired to carry some of the load. We want to do more and employees allow us do that, sorta kinda. As you grow your staff, you look around, and realize the same people as before are doing most of the work, or perhaps one more of the several you recently hired. Maybe if we hire another couple people, we can break through this? Price's Law says good luck.

To give you an example, if you have a staff of six, under Price's Law, two are workhorses, and four are contributing a minimal amount of work. You tried to hire good workers, but it didn't work out like you expected. Twelve employees and eight are just getting by. Ten thousand? Only 100 performers. We grow into increasing inefficiency. This is not new, but it's shocking if you don't have broad work experience. It's also why very experienced owners are reluctant to grow. They know the inevitable outcome. I can tell you stories of dead wood, both people I worked with and the pain of realizing that I was the deceased wood.

Many successful owners are used to being in the competent category, and probably never had time to look around to see the under performers. Under performers are still contributing, but there's a tendency for them to naturally obfuscate the differences between them and the performers. People are taught that if they can't stay busy, they should at least look busy. "If you can lean, you can clean." Incompetent managers are no different, so there's a lot of smoke in organizations, with new projects and initiatives, but not a lot of fire. Managers are not immune to Price's Law.

So what can we do about this as small business owners? 

First, let's be clear that the so called incompetent still contribute, just no more than is absolutely necessary. There's even a grievance movement afoot to work in this fashion. I would also argue, this is the nature of most people. Most people are working out of necessity, not passion. If you're that individual, find out what you're passionate about and seek out that feeling in a field that works for you. 

When it comes to hiring, you can and should attempt to hire around the incompetent, looking for top performers. We don't owe anyone a job and there is no assumption business is some sort of employment socialist utopia. We don't want these under performers, who need to go find their passion. We just end up with them.

Of course, if the person doing the hiring is incompetent, you'll get more incompetent workers. There is some research indicating that low performers can't even identify top performers and end up hiring people at or below their competency. The competent are so different, that the incompetent not only can't identify them, but are turned off by them. It's important to allow the performers to hire and insist they look for the appropriate signs of competency. As if the performers didn't have enough to do already! In my experience, you're likely to be only 50% successful with your hiring, but that's still better than Price! 

Second, most people just do what they're told at a job. They're afraid. They're unsure of what needs to be done. Some are waiting for you to instill competence into them with training and direction. You can bend the competency curve with some attention to their needs. Unfortunately, I think most of us are crappy managers, also known as being incompetent. 

Most of us started a business because of passion for something, and that something probably wasn't managing people. When it comes to training and experience in America, a good manager or good management training is damn rare. I've had such poor managers in my work experience, that it often came down to meshing with personalities, rather than discovering good leadership. I certainly don't claim to be a great leader myself.

If you have an employee who is not naturally competent, it's awfully hard to turn them. It's what we look for in individuals we want to groom to become managers. Do they identify problems? Do they take the initiative to solve them? Can they perform over time or do they lose interest? Can they work independently or do you constantly need to tell them what to do next?

Third, assuming you are stuck with the square root of your employees being competent, reward competency. Don't lose those people. Most large organizations can't identify them, because, as we now know, they're incompetent (also don't forget Dunning-Kruger). With wages going up dramatically, it's hard to compensate the competent more, when the pool of resources is tapped. 

There is some resistance to increased compensation for performers. I have bumped up against push back against increased compensation for performers, as there's a socialist element in the culture that equates uneven compensation, for whatever reason, as unfair. I've had employees compare paychecks and question why one person was paid a dollar more an hour than another. This is considered normal now. They expect wage transparency, and uneven compensation is an uncomfortable discussion. 

So there you have it. Really this is just a name to describe what you already knew. If you disagree with this, if your experience differs, you are probably a great manager. You can identify and hire talented individuals with skills and ambition like your own. You can encourage, train, and compensate your staff to a high level of performance. You are the function of the square root of the rest of us. I look forward to your book.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Witchcraft

We were talking in a mentorship forum yesterday about how we decide what to buy. Of course there are metrics, but then I mentioned witchcraft. We use witchcraft. Another mentor chimed in that he too used witchcraft! What is witchcraft?

It's tradecraft really, but not a skill or metric. Witchcraft in this context are the many subjective elements of any given product, a product we have never seen. Here are some of those elements:

  • Publisher reputation. How do I feel about them? I like making money, but I'll buy more or less depending on how I feel about the publisher. It's sometimes personal. 
  • Safety stock. Is this product likely to run out? Am I being told it will run out? I just placed a top up order of Root, because it was clearly the last shipment for the holidays. Is this a top tier product I don't want to run out of? I don't want to be out of anything D&D, for example, so I don't mind ordering beyond my normal threshold. Nobody with cash reserves loses money on Magic overstock; eventually it sells for more than you bought it for ... if you can wait.
  • Customer Demand. Do I know of a predicted high demand? Is there buzz? Are there known problems? What are my customers saying? How is game room attendance? I look up every Games Workshop release on Reddit to hear the buzz. Is this a re-packaged boring product? Is it a good value? Are the rules good? Are they crying because they want it, but can't afford it? 
  • Frosthaven lands in the US
    Do I Have Room? It was clear in this forum that some of us have reduced our gaming space due to increased inventory. If I order a lot of this product, will I have room? I have a pallet of Frosthaven on the way, but if I had more than one pallet, it would be a space problem.
  • Is the Theme Popular or Not? Cat themed games do well at the moment. Political and sports games always do poorly for me. Games with great miniatures often sell, even if the rules are ho hum. What if I was offered Cathaven, a beautiful miniatures game of cat politicians playing baseball? Oh no!
  • Is it Devalued? Is the publisher known for discounting their product? Is it a commodity product sold like stocks? Most CCGs are known to be hot or cold before they're even released. A devalued product might still get purchased, but as a one shot. It's disposable. A company like Games Workshop is so good at protecting their brand value, I can always clearance their miniatures and make all my money back, unless it's a book, cards or dice. 

Upcoming Magic: The Brothers' War Set Booster with Commodity Pricing

  • Is It Limited? AEG allows for early retailer release of some of their board games. Some of these games are just alright, but when the Internet is removed from the equation, and I get a true regional demand for a product, I realize that even an alright game will sell very well as an exclusive. A game in which I might normally order two copies, now sees me ordering two cases.  Sometimes premium product is a bit of a downer, like a lot of Wizards of the Coast Premium store exclusives. Just because supply is limited, doesn't mean demand is high.
  • Is It Already Out? Sometimes you'll find the "new release" already being sold on Amazon or it's a Kickstarter left over. Sometimes distributors will sell a game as new that's actually just a reprint. If it wasn't for boardgamegeek, and past experience, I often wouldn't know! We are a front list driven trade, so old stuff is death.
  • Can I Afford It? What does my Open to Buy worksheet say? Some buys, like Kickstarter orders, are only an option when I have disposable income. If you pay in advance, you may not have the cash this week. Q4 doesn't have me backing many Kickstarter projects, as I save to pay off my debt.
  • Does It Solve A Problem? I might be looking for a product line. For example, I would love to find a line of miniatures bags that are well priced, well stocked, and always available from distribution. I don't have the volume to order from a dedicated bag company. On the other hand, I don't need another dice manufacturer.
  • Packaging. Is it difficult to display? Is it in a tube? Does it come in a plain cardboard box (chess sets). Does it need to be put in a display case? Display cases are the kiss of death and there's limited display case space. 
  • Theft! There are product lines we don't carry because they attract professional thieves. We'll no longer carry caps, wallets or purses, for example. If you can imagine it on a blanket in front of a train station, I don't want it. And yes, our stolen goods were being sold on a blanket in front of a train station.
  • Offensive. Will this cause controversy or do I find it personally offensive? Is it racist, sexist, overly sexual, or otherwise out of step? Some games intentionally try to push buttons, and honestly a lot of people love them. Cards Against Humanity was practically demanded by customers, and we sold nearly 2,000 copies of it. Do I feel good about that? Nope. Do I feel bad enough to give back the $90,000 we made with that line? Nope. Do I cary it now that it has cooled off? Nope.
  • End of Life Issues. Can I get rid of it easily at the end of life. If you sell online, are there restrictions on where you can sell it and at what price? Board games are easy to clearance, but Role Playing Games die on the vine. 
There you have it, some witchcraft!

Thursday, November 3, 2022

8 Thoughts on Retail Purchasing

I'm co-hosting an AMA on retail purchasing for new stores today and thought I would summarize my purchasing advice. I've been purchased 14 million dollars of games since 2004, and purchasing is now my main function working from home. Here's some advice:

  1. Focus on What Works. 80% of my sales are from 10% of publishers, roughly 30 of them. Get right with this 80% and you've achieved most of your purchasing objectives. It's not an issue of "if" but "how much."
  2. Pre order Most Things. I pre order everything. You might decide to only pre order from the aforementioned 80%. The primary reason to pre order is: a) I almost always get what I want, b) I almost always hit the street date, and c) It frees up my time. I do not look at "dailies" or pay attention to most marketing communication from distributors. I have instructions to auto-ship orders when they hit "free freight."
  3. Back Order Essentials. I have $62,000 of pre orders, but only $900 of back orders. We are a front list driven trade, so the new is vastly more important than the old. I place my orders online by hand, so I regularly see what's back in stock.
  4. Track Your Purchasing. I use an Open to Buy (OTB) spreadsheet to track every purchase so my purchasing budget is balanced. I know when my inventory is bloated (most of the time) or when it's lean (almost never).
  5. Budget and Cash Reserves. I don't budget, (OTB is not a budget tool, just a tracking tool), but I have a cash reserve. Even if I'm following my Open to Buy spreadsheet, variations in monthly sales can leave me in a hole. Having a $150K sales month followed by a $100K sales month means that even if I kept my inventory stable in month one, I'll still have problems paying bills in slower month two. If my purchases were good, I'll resolve it in the future. In the short term, I probably have about $25K of bills I can't pay without a reserve.
  6. Your Best Hat. Purchasing is just one hat you wear, and it's easy to rush purchasing decisions between other tasks, maybe while standing at your point of sale system. Make purchasing special. Find a quiet place where you won't be interrupted with a stretch of time to contemplate what you want. With more time comes more options. You can go off script and open direct to retailer accounts or back Kickstarter projects. Prioritize purchasing and purchasing will expand and reward you.
  7. Buy For Your Particular Sales Team. You are probably your sales team, but think about the product you're ordering. If you have a mostly passive sales staff, the product you buy will need to sell itself. Product will need to be obvious. If you have a demo program, you'll want games that demo well, meaning you will have to be part of game demos, including attending trade shows, conventions, and local game nights. The more active your sales team, the more you will sell, but know what works for you. Purchasing is not aspirational.
  8. Exhaust Port. You can't get another portion if you haven't finished what's on your place. Have a system for clearancing dead product. There's no shame in an in-store clearance section. Game conventions are great for moving bulk overstock. And of course there's the Internet. The system is in a closed loop and you need to move the dead stock to buy new stock. If you personally move your mistakes, you'll get better at buying decisions.