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Made in gb
Cunning Chieftain






How do?

So before I go off LARPing for the weekend (yeah, that's right. Harderest of the hardcore nerds!) I'd like to set a new Thought Experiment.

As per the title, this one is about what someone needs to do to run a successful FLGS.

Why the focus on a successful one? Simply put, anyone can run a FLGS in the same way that anyone can hop into a Boeing 747 and fly it with gross incompetence.

As a sort of focus, my posit is the answer to 'How hard is it to run a successful FLGS' is almost certainly 'bloody hard - and I suspect the reasons for that will vary not just from country to country, but town to city etc.

To kick things off, here are my initial thoughts. I make no claim to their accuracy - they're just my thoughts.

1. Location, Location, Location. First thing is 'where the bloody hell do I open the store?'. Prime retail is almost certainly going to be too expensive. - but equally, can you truly afford to be stuck up the arse end of some obscure alleyway where only hardcore nerds will know how, led alone where, to find you? If you're in a city, Parking may not be much of a concern, as they tend to have decent transport links. Small town? Where the hell are your customers going to park their cars?

2. Stock, Stock, Stock. How much do you hold? How many ranges do you carry? Who is your distributor and what are their terms of supply? If something proved popular, do you devote more space to it, just carry more in the stock room, or perhaps offer an 'order it in for you' service?

3. Price, Price, Price. Now, for sure I know 'chuck a 20% discount on =/= overnight but enduring success'. You've got bills to pay after all, and that discount is usually eating into your profit margin. You probably can't compete with online discounter. Does your local Nerd Demographic expect some kind of discount outside of GW stores? What sort of discount can you realistically and sustainably deliver? What are your overheads? How many staff can you feasibly employ, on account having a day off once in a while can be nice.?

4. Customers, Customers, Customers. Who are they? What are they? Are the like me, long time devotees to GW who only occasionally dabble with others? Or are they Bloody Enormous Si, a friend of mine with a penchant for picking up new games on a whim? Does the same distributor still provide, or do you need to look at dealing with two, possibly more? Are your customers typically loyal, or is some bellend coming in with an 'unbeatable army' he didn't even buy from you?

So that's my opening salvo. I don't think I've said anything controversial or downright insane - but you never know. Have a think, have a ponder, and do join in. Opinions and thoughts from current or former FLGS owners/employees do indeed qualify for Double Points.

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5) Competition is there already a FLGS offering your service in the local community. Sheffield had 4 in the city center 3 were successful but the GW was going under. Thats because they didn't compete on much directly. Outpost is for Fantasy and Science Fiction, Patriot Games was cards and bards games while Wargames Emporium was historicals and 2nd hand. The GW didn't compete as it only provided what the others did on discount.

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Made in gb
Fixture of Dakka




UK

6) The business brain... you've got to harden your heart and be prepared to throw your friends/relatives/favourite system under a bus if they're not good for the business

That means the mate who hangs around in the store and chats up (intimidates) all the female customers has to go, you can't give your sisters kid a job as he knows nothing about games, and despite your love for Renegade Naked Nuns with Guns it's not suitable for open display and isn't something you can fill the store with

 
   
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Pre Heresy Black Templar Librarian






North of Chicago, IL USA

 Mad Doc Grotsnik wrote:
Where the hell are your customers going to park their cars?


Of all the reasons in all the world for me to avoid a restaurant, store, event, festival, or strip club, THIS is the #1 PitA reason for me. You might be the nicest guy in the world. Your store might be the Mecca of all that is gaming. You might have the hottest girls that are really into skin-tight shirts and shorty shorts running the register. It doesn't matter if I can't fething park.

If I have to circle for hours to find a spot, feth you. I'm going home.

If it isn't clear where parking is allowed and where the Tow Away zone starts, feth you. I'm not risking my car getting towed and paying some slack-jawed tow-sniper $200 to get it back.

If your lot only holds 5 cars and your regulars are double parking, feth you. I'll go home.

It drives my wife crazy, but I've always been clear on this. If there's not adequate parking, why the feth would you open the store there? What the hell are you thinking? Stop doing it.

/rant

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Made in us
Regular Dakkanaut




Denver CO

Good lighting. My local GW is in a corner spot with two full walls of floor to ceiling windows. The store is always bright and inviting without that harsh halogen glare giving everyone a headache after 20 minutes.

If you can't grab a spot like that figuring out how to light your store so that it's inviting is key. I've been to plenty of stores that give caves a bad name and don't like shopping there.
   
Made in gb
Possessed Khorne Marine Covered in Spikes




Southampton, UK

 kronk wrote:
 Mad Doc Grotsnik wrote:
Where the hell are your customers going to park their cars?


Of all the reasons in all the world for me to avoid a restaurant, store, event, festival, or strip club, THIS is the #1 PitA reason for me. You might be the nicest guy in the world. Your store might be the Mecca of all that is gaming. You might have the hottest girls that are really into skin-tight shirts and shorty shorts running the register. It doesn't matter if I can't fething park.

If I have to circle for hours to find a spot, feth you. I'm going home.

If it isn't clear where parking is allowed and where the Tow Away zone starts, feth you. I'm not risking my car getting towed and paying some slack-jawed tow-sniper $200 to get it back.

If your lot only holds 5 cars and your regulars are double parking, feth you. I'll go home.

It drives my wife crazy, but I've always been clear on this. If there's not adequate parking, why the feth would you open the store there? What the hell are you thinking? Stop doing it.

/rant


The average GW or FLGS in the UK won't even have a dedicated car park. One of my local GWs doesn't have so much as on-street parking outside.
   
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[DCM]
Potent Grey Knight Librarian





Fort Worth, TX

Davout wrote:
Good lighting. My local GW is in a corner spot with two full walls of floor to ceiling windows. The store is always bright and inviting without that harsh halogen glare giving everyone a headache after 20 minutes.

If you can't grab a spot like that figuring out how to light your store so that it's inviting is key. I've been to plenty of stores that give caves a bad name and don't like shopping there.


The other side to that is too much lighting. One store I used to go to years ago had those nice big windows, that the setting sun showed right through, blinding anyone on the side of the table facing that way. Sometimes, the deciding factor in choosing which deployment zone you wanted was the sunlight.

Moral of the story? Get some blinds to go with the nice big windows.

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Speedy Swiftclaw Biker





Norfolk, VA

I would say overall layout of the store. Do you have a big open space with a bunch of tables for everyone? That gets loud fast, and sometimes the MtG players, RPGers, and Tabletop gamers don't get along or appreciate a proper WAAAGH!!!! (guilty of scarring a few people). Are there a bunch of small rooms that are closed off? That could discourage browsers from seeing games in action. Have something that makes sense/is easy to get around and control if necessary.

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Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut






The old five man shop GW model used to be solid. You use that method, take away the ridiculous sales target throat gaking, and add in modeling and painting areas and instruction, and you have a great blueprint.

You have to run it like a business, but if you know your market, know your product, and know the baseline business program you want to use, everyone on the same sheet of music focus wise is pulling it in the same direction.

You have to factor in the Gakky Distributors. They have made running a Local game store damn near impossible in their overstepping their own overinflated sense of worth and making their personal agendas the focus of the Game stores.

Location, Parking, cleanness of store, organization of the product, space to work, paint, and play. Inclusion of local community efforts, local community outreach, and proximity to parking, food, and good offset for the costs.

friendly atmosphere, and focus on what you are trying to accomplish.



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Courageous Space Marine Captain






Before any of that. id probably sit down with a CPA or otherwise have intimate knowledge of what you owe your country.

make sure you know how to run a business before you run a store.
   
Made in ca
Longtime Dakkanaut




Welcoming refugees from Dumbfethistan

Know what would enable you to compete with online retailers.

Personally, I would only open a game store as a front to launder my drug/ illegal gambling/ brothel money. Second hand MtG cards would be ideal for that.

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Made in us
Seven Year War Afficianado




MN

Before I strated a business I was told you must be prepared to lose 3 things.....

1. All of your money
2. All of your friends
3. All of your family

If you are ready to lose all three of those you should be fine.

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The Hammer of Witches





A new day, a new time zone.

Crispy78 wrote:
 kronk wrote:
 Mad Doc Grotsnik wrote:
Where the hell are your customers going to park their cars?


Of all the reasons in all the world for me to avoid a restaurant, store, event, festival, or strip club, THIS is the #1 PitA reason for me. You might be the nicest guy in the world. Your store might be the Mecca of all that is gaming. You might have the hottest girls that are really into skin-tight shirts and shorty shorts running the register. It doesn't matter if I can't fething park.

If I have to circle for hours to find a spot, feth you. I'm going home.

If it isn't clear where parking is allowed and where the Tow Away zone starts, feth you. I'm not risking my car getting towed and paying some slack-jawed tow-sniper $200 to get it back.

If your lot only holds 5 cars and your regulars are double parking, feth you. I'll go home.

It drives my wife crazy, but I've always been clear on this. If there's not adequate parking, why the feth would you open the store there? What the hell are you thinking? Stop doing it.

/rant


The average GW or FLGS in the UK won't even have a dedicated car park. One of my local GWs doesn't have so much as on-street parking outside.

Yeah, but that's a UK/US thing. The UK has a much better public transit system, whereas MOST places in the U.S. do not, making it highly inconvenient to not be able to accommodate parking.

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Made in it
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Know your goals, market and area. Do you intend to get most of your business by being a destination or feature store, or will you hope for a lot of passing footfall?

Think about additional revenue streams, can you use parts of your facilities for other purposes?

   
Made in us
Implaccable Grey Knight Paladin





East Bay, Ca, US

Location is key. You need people to spend money in the store, and you need people nearby for that.

You will really be running magic tournaments. Lots of magic tournaments. Magic. Tournaments. If you don't like magic tournaments, then you magic tournaments don't magic tournaments magic probably magic won't tournaments enjoy magic tournaments running your magic tournaments magic tournaments store. Magic tournaments.

Hobby shops are a labor of love. have an online store. sell things on ebay.


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Seven Year War Afficianado




MN

I also recommend to work with the Small Business Administration, Local Chamber of Commerce, anor small-business Incubator/assistance program to build a solid business plan.

If those are not available, your state government (Typically Commerce or State dDepartment) will provide you some basic resources on starting a business in your state. Read it and understand the different business strucutres and their strengths and weaknesses.

Then go to the Small Business Administration website and use their Business Plan builder template to get you started.

Do all of this before you do anything else!

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Made in gb
Androgynous Daemon Prince of Slaanesh





Devon, UK

The UK has a much better public transit system,


Ha! Good one.

I also recommend to work with the Small Business Administration, Local Chamber of Commerce, anor small-business Incubator/assistance program to build a solid business plan.


Assuming they're not comprised of a bunch of regressive, self promoting, adulterous hypocrites as the one I had the misfortune to be a member of was.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/04/27 21:54:55


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Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut





Norwalk, Connecticut

Know your product. If you can't demo to get people interested, you don't deserve a store.

Reality is a nice place to visit, but I'd hate to live there.

Manchu wrote:I'm a Catholic. We eat our God.


Due to work, I can usually only ship any sales or trades out on Saturday morning. Please trade/purchase with this in mind.  
   
Made in gb
Androgynous Daemon Prince of Slaanesh





Devon, UK

 timetowaste85 wrote:
Know your product. If you can't demo to get people interested, you don't deserve a store.


Also "being able to demo" is categorically not the same as "being able to play the game."

Same but different, I did a little bit of casual work for a chap who sold kitchenalia at shows and events. Before my first day, I got given a bunch of the items I was going to be selling to practice using.

None of it was too tricky, but it was stuff you needed to know how to operate.

20 minutes at home practicing and I could spiralise a courgette blindfolded, peel a garlic clove standing on my head and finely slice anything on the safety mandolin in my sleep.

However, when you demoed those same products, you firstly had to do it backwards, as you were showing someone else and they needed to see it working, not you, you also needed to be able to hold a conversation, field any questions and try and keep things moving in the direction towards ultimately exchanging currency for goods.

Even for someone with 12+ years of sales under their belt, that was a totally different challenge from what I'd done before, and it took a few goes to be able to feel comfortable enough with it to look and feel like it wasn't an effort.

Demoing a game will be the same (for different reasons) and knowing the difference will be key to converting interest to sales.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/04/28 20:17:06


We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't. - Frank Howard Clark

The wise man doubts often, and changes his mind; the fool is obstinate, and doubts not; he knows all things but his own ignorance.

The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!” Professor Brian Cox

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Made in us
Seven Year War Afficianado




MN

I've sold many, many,many products and never demo'ed any of them.

However, I have to admit, I have never eally sold wargames professionally. It maybe different.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/04/28 22:35:13


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Made in us
Dipping With Wood Stain





San Francisco, CA

If you're interested in this topic, I'm a fan of this store, and the owner's blog:

http://blackdiamondgames.blogspot.com/

In it, he spends a lot of time talking about how to run a successful FLGS, and there's lots of cool insight from someone who's been at it for years (around 10, if I remember correctly?)

I play...

Sigh.

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Made in gb
Androgynous Daemon Prince of Slaanesh





Devon, UK

 Easy E wrote:
I've sold many, many,many products and never demo'ed any of them.

However, I have to admit, I have never eally sold wargames professionally. It maybe different.


I've sold literally thousands of gallons of milk without once demoing it.

Cellphones, war games, kitchen gadgets etc, tend to require a little more interaction with the customer!

We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't. - Frank Howard Clark

The wise man doubts often, and changes his mind; the fool is obstinate, and doubts not; he knows all things but his own ignorance.

The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!” Professor Brian Cox

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Made in gb
Cunning Chieftain






 Azreal13 wrote:
 timetowaste85 wrote:
Know your product. If you can't demo to get people interested, you don't deserve a store.


Also "being able to demo" is categorically not the same as "being able to play the game."

Same but different, I did a little bit of casual work for a chap who sold kitchenalia at shows and events. Before my first day, I got given a bunch of the items I was going to be selling to practice using.

None of it was too tricky, but it was stuff you needed to know how to operate.

20 minutes at home practicing and I could spiralise a courgette blindfolded, peel a garlic clove standing on my head and finely slice anything on the safety mandolin in my sleep.

However, when you demoed those same products, you firstly had to do it backwards, as you were showing someone else and they needed to see it working, not you, you also needed to be able to hold a conversation, field any questions and try and keep things moving in the direction towards ultimately exchanging currency for goods.

Even for someone with 12+ years of sales under their belt, that was a totally different challenge from what I'd done before, and it took a few goes to be able to feel comfortable enough with it to look and feel like it wasn't an effort.

Demoing a game will be the same (for different reasons) and knowing the difference will be key to converting interest to sales.


And you need to pitch to each different audience.

Kids? Make it cinematic. Let them see the action in their head. This also helps to show off the creativity side to parents, which is a bonus.

Older person? Well, cinematic still has it's place, but perhaps tone down the enthusiasm from 11. It's going to vary from person to person (I'm a massive kid, so 9.5 enthusiasm I can tolerate. Others might be a bit more poe faced) so use your opening conversation to get a dialogue going, see if you can sense where they're at.

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Bird from Hell






 timetowaste85 wrote:
Know your product. If you can't demo to get people interested, you don't deserve a store.


That might be true if you're talking about a single-product store like GW runs, but it isn't realistic for a store with dozens of different games in diverse genres.

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And yet Valet d'Coeur locally requires all employees to master quite a few games to give impromptu demos. It really depends on how much you pay your employees, I'd say. If you want them to be good, you pay them well, they'll learn games rules.

If you pay minimum wage... indeed, expect minimum involvement.

 GamesWorkshop wrote:
And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!

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Killer Klaivex







I think the first requirement to run a an LGS is to approach it as a businessman. Far too many shops open up as a way of parents 'buying a job' for their aimless kid. There was one that opened near me about two years back. Literally over the road from a GW, half as big. No space to game, barely any stock. It was bringing in so little money, they didn't even turn the lights on until somebody came into the store.

It closed six months ago. Terrible location, terrible stock, terrible building. Seriously, the minute I saw it, I could tell it would go bankrupt. If I could tell that just by looking at it, the owner clearly made no business plan whatsoever.

Not a miniature shop, but I saw a similar business the other day. Some guy had hooked up a couple of big tellies to games consoles, and was trying to operate as a 'gaming lounge. Unfortunately, he was in the middle of nowhere (he was in a village), there were about five other coffee shops on the same road that did a wider range of food and drink than him, and there were never going to be sufficient nerds willing to leave their (free) games consoles to come and pay for the novelty of using a N64 for an hour and buy overpriced drinks. Again, went out of business the other day.

I feel for these guys, trying to fulfill their little nerd dreams (we all have a few), but at the same time, I can't help but look at them and wonder what on earth they were thinking.


 
   
Made in gb
Cunning Chieftain






Definitely.

It may seem a doddle, but you only have to look at how many fail to see it's anything but.

Yes, we're all passionate about our Hobby, and tend to move in similarly passionate circles. But never lose sight that this is niche market, which inherently limits sales.

You'll also need to consider your local economy. Me, I'm lucky. I live in a wealthy, medium sized town. Persuading Mater and Pater to sink a couple of hundred quid into a 'summer holiday project' is pretty easy round here. Play up the educational aspect of the Hobby is more or less the biggest selling point. But then I did a stint in Blackpool. My word, I was not prepared for that. I just didn't have the right experience. I didn't know how to hook those on a more limited income, because I've never worked in that sort of economy.


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Decrepit Dakkanaut





Norwalk, Connecticut

I realize knowing EVERY game on the shelf will be a bit tough. But have people who know the big ones. D&D, X-Wing, PP, Warhammer, Magic, stuff like that. Knowing a few CMoN games won't hurt either. And not everyone working there needs to know everything. Have specialists. When I worked in a game store, I was the only guy who knew Warhammer. I could sell models with ease. The other guys barely sold anything except to veterans who knew what they wanted and did their own self-sale. You do have to be a business man though. Run sales or promos on stuff. Discount stuff that doesn't sell well; it's taking up shelf space from something better. Go to trade shows and get games that are dirt cheap and sell them for a bit over what you paid. Or give them away as promos when people buy X amount of product. Gamers love free stuff and they love winning stuff. Play to your crowd. Shake things up. But know your regular customers and demo for the non-regulars when you find out what type of thing they're interested in. It's not the easiest thing, but it also isn't rocket science.

Reality is a nice place to visit, but I'd hate to live there.

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Due to work, I can usually only ship any sales or trades out on Saturday morning. Please trade/purchase with this in mind.  
   
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Biloxi, MS

Things I learned in my time owning and working for hobby stores (in addition to some of the points mentioned above).

1. Events are key. Run seminars and tournaments, especially Magic tournaments. There were months where Magic kept my store afloat alone.

2. Pay attention to the industry. The time before release of a new game system means low sales in the mean time.

3. Build rapport with your distributors. I got lots of swag that was otherwise limited for being on good terms with my guys.

4. Did I mention events yet?

5. Forget about free time. Weekends/evenings are your busiest times. I missed SO many new movies because of it.

6. Don't sell comics unless you do it 100%. Not unless you enjoy eating them.

7. Selling food/drink is a good thing. It's hard work but the shops I've seen with 'cafe' aspects are pretty successful.

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 Mathieu Raymond wrote:
And yet Valet d'Coeur locally requires all employees to master quite a few games to give impromptu demos. It really depends on how much you pay your employees, I'd say. If you want them to be good, you pay them well, they'll learn games rules.

If you pay minimum wage... indeed, expect minimum involvement.


It's not just the motivation issue, it's the practical problems in having demos available for more than a small number of products. It's very easy to have a couple demo decks for MTG behind the counter, and pretty obvious that you should have the ability to show a new customer. But what about some niche-market board game that sells very few copies per year? Now you're writing off a substantial percentage of your total inventory of that game as a demo copy that makes no direct profit, and taking up space somewhere to keep it available. And just putting it on a shelf in a back room somewhere probably isn't enough, you need it out and set up so that your customer doesn't have to wait while you dig out the game and get it ready to play. Then what if the one person who actually buys that game already knew they wanted it without a demo? Now you've wasted all that investment.

The only reason GW-style demos work for GW is that their stores have literally three products and you can fit the entire demo space into a 4x4 table. And, while having the single employee tied up in a demo and unable to serve other customers would seem bad for a normal retail store, GW's stores seem to have so few customers that it doesn't really matter.

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