My store "works" really well in general. It turns a profit, however modest. It's enough to provide a living for two of the owners and still pay our staff for all their hard work. The rack and fixture are functional and generally present product in a manner that is inviting and accessible. It's clean generally in the sense that one can be there and play games in comfort, in an environment largely free of odors and dirt, and on tables and chairs that aren't falling apart, and with use of restrooms that are sanitary. The above is really barely a minimum level of competence by the standards of commercial establishments generally. It is dismaying that in the comic and hobby game trade this represents the top 10% or so of stores.
Every day, though, I see things about my store that I realize can be done better and need to be done better. They are not done better yet due to some combination of prioritization, resources, process failure, poor time management, laziness, and to a far lesser extent, facility limitations. Prioritization is the overwhelming culprit. A lot of what should be done, would be done, if it ever climbed to the top of the actionable items list on a given day.
One way I can motivate myself to make my business better is to make myself publicly accountable for it. Here, then, is a photo tour of all the small things that are wrong with Desert Sky Games and Comics. Hopefully having shown them to the world will be sufficient to impel me and the partners to take action.
This is the store as you first see it when you walk in the door. There is no uniformity to this. No signage, no indication of which way to go or where the merchandise is (other than what's right in your way, it's mostly to the right). The entire pathway to the back room is visible and every mess between here and there is evident. That empty Games Workshop rack on the right is not there; that happened to be getting moved at the time I took this photo. The store is bright and the place does project abundance, but that's as much as I can say for it.
Also, I looooove me some Firefly. But those Firefly "Les Hommes / Les Femmes" posters up there are taking up merchandise space. Do people even look up that high? Yes they do. I am asked all the time if I will sell the Firefly posters. (When people discover the going rate for them, their interest tends to deflate a bit.) I will gladly sell all ten, including the rare Saffron/Bridget, for whatever the market price is on any given day, if you're interested. I will not break up the set.
That's enough yucky restrooms. If you're still with me, why?! But if you are, we've almost reached the end and it gets a little better now. Thanks for sticking it out.
So there we are. After all that, you might think I find my own store a ghastly dumpster fire with a laundry list of problems that seems to have no end. The reality is that running any business at scale results in action items constantly adding to the agenda. When these are solved, others will spring up to replace them. The objective is to get the action items to improve in relevance to sustainable profitability, rather than being "keep this ship afloat" items. A great majority of all the issues that face comic and hobby game stores are the latter, and we've largely conquered them. The entire ownership spent a week in Las Vegas at GAMA and lo and behold, the store did not burn down.
Right now the core business processes and continuity are strong, and with the RMS deployment will get stronger. That, of course, makes it all the more baffling to see some of the little cleaning and merchandising things not getting done. The good fortune is that these are closer on the spectrum to the "want" end than the "need" end. One would say a store "needs" to have these little things done to be professional, and I would agree. But we'll survive until they get done. And we'll thrive even more bountifully once they finally do.
In the meanwhile, if you see something small that is bad, hit me up. I want to know. Even if I already know about it, I'll be glad to know that you saw it. Because then I will know it's not just something I'm being obsessive about, but is a genuine customer-facing deficiency. Thank you in advance.