Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bright Horizons

The summer is already in full swing at DSG.  I have yet to close the books for May (obviously) but it appears likely to land with numbers roughly the same as April, which was the best month in the store's history by a lot.  In April's case, the cause was obvious enough: Shadows Over Innistrad.  In May?  That's the best part.  It was no single thing.  The only categories that failed to punch their weight class in May were board games and RPGs.

Magic singles continue to be out-of-sight huge.  What was once a couple-times-daily thing: the call, email, or message asking for deep stock checks on singles, has become an hourly occurrence at minimum.  The category is turning with numbers greater than what used to be the sum of all my business as recently as a year ago.  As I reach the end of the great Point-of-Sale Migration of 2015-2016, with deployment expected to conclude around mid-June after multiple restarts and reboots, Magic singles should finally be solved, after a fashion.  I won't spoil it, a future article appears likely to recount the misery of this godawfully slow and expensive transition process.  An infrastructure decision I made in late 2014 conflated good information with bad and moved us forward with Light Speed Onsite mirrored to their client web store deployment.  That decision has cost DSG untold blood and treasure as the prevailing winds shifted in precisely the least concordant direction, and our best utility from Light Speed eroded out from under us.  And it was my call that sent us that way.

I created a "Google Page" here on the Backstage Pass to centralize a single update point for one of my most popular article series, observing the coming and going of metro Phoenix comic and hobby game stores.  The Mega-Article has gone live and future updates will occur in place, most likely without notice unless you use whatever wizardry provides you with some sort of feed notification.  I welcome corrections and already have several in the queue that will quietly roll out when I have a chance.

Phoenix Comicon is days away as this article goes live, and DSG will be there with double the booth space and as much product as we can feasibly haul into the convention center in the time allotted.  Last year's PCC was glorious and was like having two, three, or even more stores open at the same time for an all-too-brief few days.  We are counter-programming harder this year than ever before, ignoring a lot of product categories we think every third booth will overload, and instead pushing some of our core competencies at the heart of tabletop and our mainstream-friendly doorway into the comic universe.  I can't wait to see how we do.

Video games are healthy in every way and advancing exactly as I had hoped, and I am deeply grateful that I had a lot of help in the process from retailers who have been doing it for a while.  But mostly I am glad I put the needed capital into place to do it right.  The category was profitable for DSG in 2013, but without any resources behind it, it was a lark, an unreliable mechanism where we had no legitimate way to attract business beyond mere accident, and no systematic turn cycle on the goods.  Video game distribution is in a very different place than what we are used to in the tabletop world, and the kind of hand-holding and tentativeness that characterizes a typical comic or hobby game retailer is just going to get you left in the kiddie pool.  If you aren't mass market, you have to live and breathe the category to understand it well enough to have a prayer.  So far I think I'm holding my own.

I discussed recently how there were so many other promising things I could bring in, but really right now I just want to see Magic singles solved and the rest of our existing line-up performing dependably.  DSG is in a good place with staffing and organized play.  Infrastructure is tantalizingly close to taking a level.  It would be a tremendously successful busy summer season in my view if we did nothing more than put points on the scoreboard.

I won't be going to Origins or Gen Con this year as it's just not feasible with my work outlook.  It seems likely I will also skip the Alliance open house.  The Diamond Retailer Summit in September is in play, and there's a fair chance Patrick will take his turn at the GTS Come and Play Day in Atlanta in October.  We are running all tabletop events at the massive Game On Expo in Mesa in August.  And oh yeah, we have Eternal Masters, two PPTQs, Eldritch Moon, a Modern Series Championship, Conspiracy 2, and then, oh yeah, everything that isn't Magic as well.  By the time Kaladesh comes out, if I haven't covered substantial ground for our new location, I might as well pack it away until after the holidays and sweat it out in early 2017 with the clock winding down.

I have an extended family event I greatly wish to attend in early July, and that's going to take priority over wants-and-not-needs store issues.  Also, sometime in the next nine weeks I am taking the wife and kids to Coronado after missing our annual pilgrimage there twice in a row due to the needs of the business.  Fortunately, we should be able to get strong EV out of that trip, with my best availability coming during the mid-week and Stephanie off work until the school year resumes.  Oh, and by August, I need to buy a car.

There is glory to be seized in the desert.  I'll be taking my shots.  Here we go.

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