Tuesday, August 17, 2010

If they come to your store, use your free in-store gaming area BUT don’t by anything, are they customers?

OK this seems to happen in a lot of game stores. People use the in-store gaming areas as their new extend play area like they are home. They play game after game of what you sell in your store. They have books, dice, card or whatever else they need. They play for hours and hours in the space you have given them. The bring food and drink in from the outside and leave their garbage for you to pick up. And after all that, they don’t even buy anything from your store. Even worst, they purchase products online and tell their friends where they got the book cheaper than what as a retail store owner you pay. So the question I have to ask is, “Why should I provide them with space to play, if they are not going to purchase anything and support this retail location?”

Let’s be real, the reason retail stores have that space is to get customers to play at their store so customers will purchase products from the retail store. Retailers don’t have in-store gaming areas out of some kind of love affair with customers. This is a straight up marketing move to promote your store to customers. But what happens if they take advantage of your goodwill as a store and don’t help keep your store in business? When I worked for Tate’s Gaming Satellite we were only 500 square feet (25 feet by 20 feet) and half of the store was dedicated to in-store gaming. We initially wanted to charge for gaming space but decided against it think it might scare off customers. So the question if you aren’t buying anything do I really have to respect you as a customer or are you just a freeloader? Talk to you later…


  1. I gotta tell you, I don't like local game shops. There have been a few, but for the most part the owners tend to rub me the wrong way. Granted, I am in a limited game shop area.

    The place that hosts D&D Encounters here, unfortunately, does not sell any D&D stuff at all. They are a Pokemon/Yugi-Oh/Magic the Gathering shop. Why they do D&D Encounters is beyond me. I actually like these guys, and would pay full markup for the occasional book, or if they had miniatures perhaps. Really though, I quite going to encounters, partly because I felt like a sponge, partly because I don't like the Yugi-Oh crowd there. I'm certainly not going to take up D&D for kindergartners (read "Magic: the Gathering") just to spend some money there.

    I hate to say it, but the local gaming shop is dead, in my view.

  2. IMHO thery are still potential customers. And using some of your own advice Louis, I'd start to try and court them like a lover. What do they want. How can they entice them to buy from me. How can I do it over and over again to make them happy. What can I stock?

    Those players also provide word of mouth, ask those people to spread the word to thier friends that I'm a good place of business.

    Long story short, but you still have to be a saleman in your shop.

    Consider this, how about a sign that said "Participation in in-shop gaming is dependant on patronage."

    If they are running living campaign games at the shop, advise the co-ordinator mention game shop patronage.

  3. My local game shop, Gamers Sanctuary, in Flint Michigan has it going on. Free food on huge turn out MtG tournaments. Even for the one table I am at at the back that is there to roleplay. A great selection of miniatures, products, books, maps, vinyl, markers, dice, you name it. I love spending money here because I feel totally at home.

    When I made prototype perfect bound books of White Haired Man adventures the owner stepped out on a limb and bought 21. He stocked in a prominent location with local boy come good angle.

    Herald said it best with quoting Mr. Porter Jr's line about making money is like making love, over and over again. This store has what I want and I buy there because of it. Want discounts and not have to pay for shipping, its here. Need a tall can of orange aid while narrating a game, check. Need one extra mini to throw down on the table and an extra dry erase marker, check. Wifi, no...wtf. I'll talk to him about that...

  4. In these tough economic times, I think that any way a business can get their target buyer to come into the store and potentially spend some money is a great idea.

    Everyone doesn't purchase PDFs, even preferring books. With 4th Edition, miniatures would seem to be in demand, and dice are always needed.

    What I would like to know is, what are the best money-makers in a game store? Books? Dice? Minitatures? Renting gaming space?

  5. I have never played a game at a gaming shop. I don't buy full priced books at them either. I stop in strictly to look at the bargain bins. This is my only real interest. I want to find cheao gaming books and games I have never encountered. Both of these endeavorers have been a success in the past.

    But I think using someone's commercial space without supporting that store is a dick move. Either don't play there or support the store.

  6. I think you have to put out a voluntary contribution bucket. Let it be known that the space costs you money and you'd just like to not loose food from your table for their table.

    As a group, If they respect you they'll give a donation. Don't worry about people who don't donate but post your donation levels somewhere.

    If the donation levels drop too far too long you have to do something else with the space. I don't see that as being mean, I see that as sharing your situation with the players.