A few weeks back I wrote about a survey that Jamey Stegmaier had shared the results of in his own blog and called into question the methodology in which the numbers were derived. Jamey put me into contact with Joe, who shared some of the information from the survey, and its list of respondents with me.
I was on the list.
This resulted in me bringing together my staff to ask who had taken this call. After some time I found the staff member who took it, and we were able to ascertain they were asked "Do you carry Catan or Scythe?" and they offered to put those on hold for the customer calling. Then they were asked if the store backed Kickstarters, and were told that we do back some, if the boss likes the company and the game, but that we rarely back a Kickstarter from someone we don't know.
In response to this survey we received an envelope that had a letter and some promo cards. I did check out the promo cards, and I did check out the Kickstarter, but I did not feel it thematically fit my store and passed. (Frankly, despite my personal feelings on POTUS I don't need yet another game to make fun of him, there are plenty of people using plenty of methods to make fun of him. I need my games to be apolitical, so for 40 minutes to an hour I can forget what's going on in the world.)
Then I spent some time with the list, and got to talking to some stores that were on it. I had a good baseline, because if a store received the promo cards then someone has answered that "Yes, we back Kickstarters." As I mentioned before, the beauty of having been at this for a while is that I know lots of people who run retail stores, so I was able to ask if they got the cards, and if they remember the call.
The responses were uniformly lackluster. No identification was provided by the caller, no effort was made to insure they were speaking with an informed buyer for the business. Some of my employees would have no idea what is or isn't a Kickstarter on my shelves, they just sell what I give them.
Now, please understand I want to absolutely give Joe credit here. What he put together in this retail list (which I will not share) is a monumental feat, and he deserves credit for the efforts. Yet, as Joe admitted in his own email to me, he is not a professional surveyor, and as a result of this, the results of this survey must be called into question. To get the truest results here we need to be speaking to the correct person. This means calling a store, asking for the buyer, and setting an appointment when you're told they aren't available. Leave your name, contact information, and exact reason you're calling. "Didn't get a call back," is a valid survey response that provides you data.
It doesn't at this time appear that Joe's KS campaign will fund, but this survey, despite its flaws, surely shows a willingness to work hard, so I have no doubts he'll break into the industry at some point.
For those of you reading this, my store still funds Kickstarter campaigns, and ever Monday I ask for a list of all campaigns ending in the next eight days. I go over that list, looking FIRST at the retailer level. If there isn't one, I close the tab. Then I look at KickTraq numbers, backer trends, the company history of the creator, and how well those products fit into my store.
Finally I make a decision. In a normal week there are 50-75 Tabletop Game Kickstarters ending, and I back one every other week or so. This market really has become the Hunger Games, so let me finish with this.