In part one of this series we built our retail section, while in part two we built out the section of our store where we will host our gaming events. We've spent $61,361.68 up to this point, and today we'll look at stocking our new store.
Now that we have fixtures and a gaming area, we need to decide what we're carrying. Hopefully we made that decision before this point and bought the appropriate fixtures and built the appropriate gaming section, so what we're actually doing here is talking about what we're going to carry. I guess this is a good time to discuss the three most popular models for hobby store retail.
1.) Card Store I refer to these as clubhouses and I don't mean for that to at all sound polite. Think about the clubhouses you've walked into and they're lowest common denominator; misogynistic, dirty, unwelcoming, and largely not worth your trip.
2.) Miniatures Store I've been into some minis stores I absolutely love, and the one thing they have in common is that they carry every line that has any amount of following. I think this is very difficult on this side of the pond, and far more feasible in western Europe than anywhere in the United States. Many minis lines don't produce the turns to justify the dollars spent on stocking them or the shelf space they require. This model is tough here.
3.) The Full-Line Game Store A well diversified mix of role-playing games, board games, minis games, and card games. The premier full-line game stores in this country are beautiful, well-run, and welcoming to gamers from all walks of life, from the Muggles to the hard core GMT players.
Some of these stores have gone hybrid in some way or another as well. Some of them are carrying disc golf, comics, or video games. If you have a market where you have knowledge and little competition, many of those things can easily be added to a game store. A friend of mine even does cell phone repair in the same store he has a beautiful, premium, game space. Those are all valid options, but today we're going to just look at stocking the shelves a brand new full-line game store.
To do that we're going to make buying decisions in the four departments we've talked about in our third model. We're going to tackle these in an order of some sort, the percentage of my total business in 2017.
(Warning, I'm willing to share a lot, but this will not be a buying guide. This will be a generalized list of departments, not a product by product guide)
If you look around my store you'll find approximately 750 large-boxed board game titles in stock at any time. This will include many games that in stock with only one copy, a few that are always two or three copies, and some demo games that are six or twelve deep. Here were my largest board game publishers by dollars sold in 2017. You should buy some of their stuff.
Fantasy Flight Games Asmodee IELLO CMON Z-Man Days of Wonder
These five board game publishers were part of my mythical 1% club, they were responsible for at least 1% of my total revenue, a mark that only 13 different companies hit in 2017.
So, we need 750 titles. About 25 of them we're going to go two deep on to start things off; Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, stuff like that. We're also going to pick four cool titles for our demo table and buy them six deep.
Demo tables - 24 units Evergreens - 50 units Depth - 725 units
We need a total of 799 units. Let's just call it 800 to make this easier.
Average unit cost of a board game in this section is $26.00 or so.
800 * $26.00 = $20,800.00 (initial large box board game inventory)
Then we need to have the little box stuff, all the stuff that we sell for about $20. It goes on end caps, it gets impulse shopped at the cash wrap, and it provides players options for the quick game, the travel game, the party game. At any time this store should have about 200 or units in stock in this department, a sub-category of board gaming.
200 * $10.00 = $2,000.00
Initial Board Game Inventory = $22,800.00
Collectible Card Games
This is a market that I don't believe in heavily investing in. We only carry two CCGs, Magic: The Gathering, and Star Wars: Destiny. There is a broad disdain by board gamers when it comes to stores that carry board games and then only run CCG events. I don't like this disdain, and it's how Board Games are my largest category. Board gamers also always get excited about the new, and don't bemoan the state of the latest set, because we get to buy 2,000 new board games every year and there is always something to choose they'll enjoy.
But, CCGs are part of a well-rounded and diversified game store, and they're a fantastic opportunity when it comes to casual players. Many of the people who buy a board game from me add a pack of Magic onto that purchase because they play casually at home with their friends. We're not going to focus on the grinders, the EV seekers, but we're going to make sure we stock enough of that product to keep casual players interested.
So, for the purposes of our startup we're going to stock Magic. We'll get a case of whatever the most recent set, because we need to draft it all the darn time, and three boxes of each other Standard legal set.
$1,400ish - Standard Legal Magic Boosters
Add some Planeswalkers decks, some Deckbuilders toolkits, and whatever other random, good, product, Wizards is giving us at the time and plan on spending $2,000.00 for in-print Magic stuff.
We also have to discuss singles here. Are you selling Magic singles? Did you start off life with a huge collection that you want to sell to your store? I think it's grossly unhealthy to start your game store by selling your personal Magic collection, but I know people who started that way and have survived, so your mileage may vary.
If you want to do Magic singles without the personal collection of your childhood memories you're going to have budget for two things; first, to open enough Standard legal sets to meet your needs, and second, keep enough money set aside to buy every Magic card that walks in your door.
Let's call the proper opening three boxes of the non-current Magic sets that are Standard legal, and six boxes of the most recent set. This number is highly flexible, and is just our example number. You'll notice that it's the same amount as what we're putting on the shelves, and that means we're spending $1,400.00 more on Magic product.
Then the day we open the doors we need to be open to buy. We have to be able to buy Magic cards that walk in, because then we build a larger singles inventory. If you're doing singles, but not buying them, you're probably doing singles wrong. You can pick the number that is healthy for you, but I believe $2,500.00 just for Magic singles is a healthy start to your new store.
This means we've spent $3,400.00 on sealed Magic for our shelves, plus the Magic cards we'll open for singles, and we've set aside $2,500.00 for more Magic buys.
Magic Total - $5,900.00
My example store here will also stock Destiny, about $1,000 deep in sealed product because the Star Wars license sells, and we'll skip the other CCGs. For every CCG you add to your opening I'd budget between $2,000.00 and $3,000.00.
If you're going to carry CCGs you have to carry the accessories for the players as well. Pick the products you like, and budget about $1,000 for sleeves, deck boxes, carrying cases, what have you.
CCG Total - $7,900.00
Merchandise Total So Far - $30,700.00
This is a deeply personal decision. In my time in this industry I've carried a slew of different miniature games; Warhammer 40K, Warhammer Fantasy, Age of Sigmar, Dystopia Wars, Malifaux, Warmachine, Hordes, Flames of War, Bolt Action, Guild Ball, Relic Knights, X-Wing, Armada...
You get the point here, right? Some of them have worked, and some haven't. I'd recommend any store opening start with four of these lines; X-Wing and Armada have a Star Wars license, that shit sells itself when it's available to us. Warhammer 40K's 8th edition has revitalized a line that was suffering, and Warmachine/Hordes was my number one selling miniature line in 2017.
For Games Workshop we'll buy their Best Sellers 1 and Best Sellers 2 lines, and spend something in the vicinity of $3,000.00 or so total, because we want to supplement that with their boxed minis games, like Blood Bowl and Shadespire.
For Privateer Press we have fourteen factions (counting the upcoming release). We need a starter box and the best sellers in each of those factions, let's just spit ball this at about $300.00 per faction.
$300 * 14 = $4,200.00
I'm comfortable with both of those numbers, and have spent $7,200 on my minis section.
If we can get all of X-Wing and all of Armada (which is incredibly hit and miss with Fantasy Flight issues), we have 73 X-Wing SKUs. Arguments could be made to skip some of the SKUs, but we're out to buy a legitimacy as a new store, so we're going to stock them all two deep.
$2,000.00 - X-Wing
Armada has 30 SKUs, and we'll stock them all two deep as well.
$1,000 - Armada
Those are the four minis lines I'd open most new stores with today. I've stocked them well enough to appear legitimate and interested, and in our Games Workshop purchases I also started into the miniature accessories category.
We need to flesh that category out. We need to buy another paint line, another line of tools, and another line of flocking/basing material. Just pick the company you like and buy it all. Plan on $1,500.00.
$1,500.00 - Second paint/tools/accessories line
Total Minis Cost - $11,700
Total Product Cost So Far - $42,400.00
You can't start any conversation about role-playing games without the big two. The publishers of RPG games in my current store in 2017 were Wizards of the Coast and Paizo. The section also needs to acknowledge the work being done by FFG with Star Wars and Genesys.
Dungeons and Dragons, as a line, is actually remarkably small and easy to carry despite the rapid pace at which it moves. It's only 15 books, and we can stock the entire line, including appropriate depth where needed, for about $750.00.
Paizo is considerably more difficult to stock, between Pathfinder and Starfinder there are probably more than 100 products I keep in stock regularly; map packs, adventure paths, hardcover rulebooks, pocket rulebooks, etc. I'm not doing the math for you, but plan on $1,000 here, at the minimum.
Fantasy Flight's RPG line, as well as the aforementioned Star Wars and Genesys, includes the incredibly entertaining End of the World Series. We're going to spend about $500.00 on some assortment of FFG role-playing games, bringing the total spent in the department to $2,250.00 or so thus far.
Role-playing doesn't end here though, as you need to have width in this department if you want to be taken seriously. Pick other lines you like; Numenera, Shadowrun, The Strange, some super hero games, every darn cat themed RPG, and go hog wild. Plan on another $500.00 to bulk the department through your primary distributor, and $2,500.00 at IPR for random RPGs.
You also need to buy dice. The most popular dice company in our industry is Chessex, just plan on spending $1,000.00 or so on dice. They'll turn like crazy, you'll restock constantly, and at the end of the year you'll be amazed at the number of dice you've sold.
RPG players love their minis, painted, unpainted, or whatever. I love the line being put out by WizKids, and am going to stock 60 SKUs all three deep for about $500.00, and then spend $500 more on other minis. You could try some WizKids painted blind minis, or you could try some other unpainted minis company.
RPG Merchandise Costs - $7,250.00
Total Product Cost So Far - $49,650.00
Point of Sale
Now that we've ordered all this cool product we need a way to keep track of it. Yes, you could use a $200.00 cash register, but I guarantee you that you will hate yourself and placing your orders. We need a Point of Sale system.
No company is paying me enough to endorse a POS system they can sell you. Frankly, every POS I've looked at has problems, and there is no perfect solution, so do some testing, download the demos, ask lots of questions, determine what you need your POS system to do, and choose the one that best suits you.
You'll want to buy a real computer for this, nothing wonky, slow, or out of date. Plan $1,500.00 for a good machine here and some amount of annual dollars in updates and service. Most POS software will cost you money annually, although some buy once and keep forever options exist. I'm going to go with an average here and add $500.00 for your Point of Sale software to go with your $1,500.00 computer.
Point of Sale - $2,000.00
This is a horrible category, but we haven't made every decision. Are you going to carry HeroClix? Plan some money there.
Snacks? You can build a solid selection at Costco for $750.00. You'll need to buy a cooler as well, which we ignored in our previous remark on fixtures. Just find a used one for $500.00 or so, they're at most restaurant supply places pretty cheap.
We're going to count our loose budget here as $1,250.00 for food/beverage, and the cooler, and then we need to add the $2,000.00 we spent on a POS computer and software,
Total Product Cost to Open - $52,650.00
We add that to what we'd spent before today...$61,361.68, and we discover that we've spent $114,011.68.
We're not done yet! Come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!