Greetings once again! As in previous iterations, I am answering customer questions candidly and within no more than five lines of text in Google's composer. Depending on whether you view this on a computer screen or mobile, the actual length of answers will vary. But any way you cut it, this is definitely a collection of fast answers. In this article series I endeavor to answer any customer question, as long as it is not disingenuous and does not request confidential information.
For the previous articles, questions came from a Derium's CCG's Let's Talk that I took part in. Not sure whether Kevin ever used the video I cut, but I like the format and the back-and-forth, so this time I have collected my own customer questions to continue the series. Readers sent me questions here on the business blog, emails to the store or to me directly, and Facebook messages to the store or to me, et cetera. A couple of these are from handwritten notes so if memory serves they were verbal questions from customer visits.
Let's get right underway then, shall we?
Q: Why haven't you moved yet?
A: Money. Not money on hand, but the numbers on the lease. We have yet to reach agreement with a landlord on a deal that works for us. I'm a capitalist, I know they have to make money on the deal, and I respect that. But I am looking for a permanent home for DSG and I need a lease that will sustain that. Twice in the past month I've been within one signature of having a new location and slammed on the brakes instead. The deal just didn't come together.
Q: Wait, so what about store #2?
A: It won't happen any time soon. When the Hug family departed DSG, the multi-store plan departed with them. The remaining owners are on the mega-store plan, and only the mega-store plan. We are going to go big or go home.
Q: What miniatures-based game is the most profitable?
A: Warhammer 40K is the most profitable by volume. Warmachine/Hordes is smaller but has the best margin, which is why it was dumped online for so long. Guild Ball is the best pound-for-pound, followed by HeroClix. X-Wing has the largest player base but has the most players who only buy online and not in-store, though this appears to be trending in a better direction lately.
Q: Why aren't Pokemon TCG singles available on your website yet?
A: They will be. They're actually fairly high up in the long list of inventory that has to be ingested into Crystal Commerce, that was previously not being kept in Light Speed. With the blowout success of Pokemon GO, we were sort of caught with our pants down on this one. I apologize that it's not done yet. No excuses, that's on me. We should have been ready.
Q: Why don't you price-match Amazon anymore?
A: I've alluded to this here on the blog, but it became unnecessary. With distribution changes this year from publishers like Asmodee/FFG, Mayfair, Privateer Press, et al., we saw a pretty pronounced divide between products that sell well enough at MSRP and products that fail to sell even with the price-matching in effect, or sold only at a full loss. We let the price-matching promotion expire and simply stopped supporting the products that get dumped the worst online.
Q: Which system do you sell the most new release video games for?
A: Playstation 4, followed by Xbox 360. Lot of people still hanging onto their previous-generation gear, where games are a bit cheaper.
Q: Why don't you collect more cards? [Responding to my previous article where I explained that I have only one Commander deck of my own.]
A: It's best not to get high on your own supply. Any card I buy for myself has the potential to lose me a sale later. Accordingly, I have to be sparing with that.
Q: Why don't you carry blu-ray movies and such?
A: Lack of space. Once we're in a bigger facility, we'll see if that market is still active. Of all consumptive media, music and movies have taken the biggest hit from the ease of purchase online and storage in the cloud. I never buy a physical compact disc if the content is available on iTunes. The trend lines say I'm not alone. But for now there is still market demand for used movies and such, and the economics are forgiving.
Q: Do you guys get to keep what's in the Lost and Found?
A: You mean the travel coffee mugs, sweatshirts, and moth-eaten bags of table-worn dice? At last I can retire and give up this life of crime. In truth, we actually had a point a year or so ago where the lost and found was empty of everything but absolute detritus. All the meaningful things had been claimed. I took that opportunity to enact our current policy that leaves us free and clear to dump stuff after holding it for 30 days. For anything of real value we continue to try to reunite it with its owner.
Q: Why won't you take older Xbox, older Xbox 360, PS2 fat, toaster NES, etc systems?
A: There are some consoles that have unacceptably high failure rates. We stand behind what we sell and don't want to send someone home to a bad experience. For stuff like the NES you're better off getting a Retron clone now, or using the Virtual Console, if you just want to play games. As time goes by and we improve our repair chops, we might start buying those systems in some fashion.
Q: Are you interested if I can save you money on your credit card processing?
A: No, because you can't. Real stores like us run volume that gives us better rates directly from banks than anything "independent affiliates" can ever offer. I know the interchange MLM you bought into tells you to network among small retail shops to find clients, but they were just lying to hook you into their affiliate scam. Sorry to break it to you.
Q: I sent in a resume but you never interviewed me. What gives?
A: That is not unusual. We get unsolicited resumes from job seekers every week, and when we put out a recruitment we get inundated with responses. The reality is, many people, especially college-aged employment prospects, want to work at a game store. That means we get our choice of the very best of the best of applications we receive. A candidate who would easily get hired elsewhere in retail might not be hired here simply because another strong candidate applied around the same time.
Q: Why do you have ESPN on those TVs? Nobody is watching it.
A: During football season they get watched more, but that's not the reason for it. We play Pandora Business over the speakers and sports on TVs because the sound and imagery are kinetic, and business psychology has proven they make a comforting and upbeat atmosphere. Compare that to any time you were in a store full of still silence, or just the "flip flip flip" of card sorting. Or a restaurant where all you hear is the clanking plates and pans. Awkward. You'd hurry to leave.
Q: Are you a Mac or a PC?
A: My home is a 100% Apple household, but DSG is hybrid. Not counting mobile devices, there are ten computers at DSG, five of each. If Wizards Event Reporter were a web app like it needs to be, I could go all-Apple at the store too. That won't happen for a while yet even if WER does go cloud, though, because I still have a lot of ROI to churn through for my new PC register terminals.
Q: Why won't you carry [my favorite indie board game or minis game]?
A: Because of DSG's market. We're in a suburban middle-class family demographic. We're not an urbanist, hipster, cutting-edge store. We are not tastemakers. Like a mediocre NBA forward, we can't create our own shot. This means we carry games that are already hits, or new releases by well-established publishers or creators. For game systems such as TCGs, CMGs, or miniatures, the game needs to have reached flight velocity on its own already; we will impart no assistance to it.
Q: Why won't you take trades from 17-year-old customers anymore? You used to.
A: Sigh. Yes, we did. Part of being a responsible business is regularly researching laws, regulations, and ordinances that may have been overlooked. We recently became aware that our locality does not permit us to accept merchandise from minors regardless of whether it is for cash or trade. Thus, our existing policy that we would not pay out cash to minors, has been expanded to include store credit. Sorry. I would love to take those cards or video games, but the decision is no longer in our hands.
Q: How can you get along with other store owners when they are competing for the same pool of customers?
A: Some of those assumptions need to be unpacked. A customer in front of us might never have been to any other store; it's best to focus on their immediate needs. It's also best to cultivate our own audience rather than trying to poach players from across town. Finally, hobby game and comic stores have common enemies in the mass market and elsewhere, so fighting each other often ends up being a "waste of ammunition."
And that's it for this week's article! I will be back to answer more customer questions in a future article. Maybe I'll challenge myself to cut it down to two lines or something. That would make for some damned fast answers to customer questions.