I have spent a fair amount of times in Board Game stores over the last 12+ years and I can tell you without a doubt, that most of the stores I go into, the owner is more of a hobbyist than a business person. Ask anyone who is successful at running a store like this and they will tell you how incredibly difficult it is to keep the doors open, make smart business decisions and keep the clientele coming back. So as a potential customer, business owner and marketer please let me give you board game store owners my two cents.
1. Clean your damn store – I can’t say this more whole heartedly enough. Customers hate walking into a store that makes them feel like taking a shower by the time they leave. Vacuum, dust and straighten your product and for the love of what ever you find holy, please shampoo your carpets at least once a year. You wonder why women don’t come to your store? Hmmmm….. I can’t tell you how many times I brought a female friend to a game night that would never return because your place is a filthy mess and your bathrooms are the grossest thing on the planet. It is your job and responsibility to police your customers that use your store for gaming as well as making sure your employees AND yourself clean the store everyday.
2. Learn how to use social media – I know at least locally, none of the stores here in Nashville have any real social media presence, understand social media and do absolutely no outreach to the local gaming groups or anyone else for that matter. First of all, social media is free so there is no excuse and secondly for those of you with small budgets, what other choice do you have? There is no excuse to not utilize this avenue of advertising period.
3. Learn how to target market – It is your responsibility to understand who shops in your kind of store, how to reach them and then actually do it. It is also your responsibility to try and attract other potential customers to your store and find ways to reach them and actually do it. Again with social media and email campaigns alone you can do a lot here. Get to making it happen.
4. Understand who controls the money – It is very well known that women control 95% of all the wealth in the world. What does this mean? It means they decide what gets bought and they are the ones buying it. You want to increase your bottom line? Learn how to market to women. What would women come to your store for? Do you sell productions that maybe might be of benefit to them or their children? How do you reach them? What do you think might key them into your store vs. GameStop or some other place to spend their money for their kids?
5. Learn to ask for help and then take it – Find out locally who is an expert and who can help you and work with them. Don’t ask them to do it for free. Pay them or at least barter with them but make sure it’s a fair trade. Quit thinking your 20% discount is a fair deal to people who usually make $100 or more an hour at their job because they are good at it.
6. Make your store THE store – What does this mean? It means get out from behind your counter and offer REAL customer service. Know and understand your product as best as possible so you can actually SELL it. I can’t tell you how many times I sold a game because the owner knows nothing about board games. Treat your customers like you would want to be treated. Create RAVING FANS (look up the book) and see if they start bring people to your store, talking about it and having all their gaming sessions there. Put on cool events not just the same old LCG events or D&D events that barely draw anyone. Look at your inventory, see what you can possibly come up with to have fresh, exciting events happen. Hook up with local talent, cosplayers etc… Make no mistake, it is absolutely nobody else’s job but YOURS to get people in your store to purchase things.
Look I know most gamers would love to have a store and play board games all day long, but in reality, you shouldn’t have much time for that. This is a business and businesses take a vast amount of time and effort to run. You should be busy working, marketing and making your store the one place everyone wants to come to. It’s easy to fall on the Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh online sales or Warhammer 40k crowd but that stuff won’t be around forever. Keep up with the latest and greatest, be bold in your marketing and create an awesome atmosphere for gamers to come to and watch what happens.