stone valley games update 210718

Weekly Store Update: 18 July

Tip o' the glass to our friends in northern states to celebrate the recent National Strawberry Rhubarb Wine Day; always a fine adult beverage to enjoy with your favorite game! Talking about games, we've been busy getting more new games and restocks in - and a bunch of preorders set up. As always, we have news to share too!

INTRO

Rhubarb? Rhubarb grew wild where I'm originally from in Wisconsin; plenty of cobbler dishes, but we never made wine out of it. Now it has its own National Day. Wild! In any case, I'm Eric, and Wendy and I own / operate Stone Valley Games, nestled in lovely northern Alabama...a long way from any stray rhubarb. If you're new to the newsletter let me show you around for a second. This top portion contains our news items, I focus on general items of interest and things happening right here in our store. However, if you want to skip the verbiage you can jump to the bottom of the post to see what restocks, new items, and preorders we laid in last week. Let's see what news I can find NOT related to rhubarb...

OLD-SCHOOL ESSENTIALS UPDATE AND PDF CHANGE

I was talking to Gavin about the release of his latest Old-School Essentials Kickstarter. He relayed that he was both surprised and delighted by the demand and attention it was getting. He assured me that he is working diligently on a smooth production chain so things don't run out of stock so often. He said it should be set up and running this year. I simply told him I'd believe it when I see it!

Also, the last of the Adventures, Holy Mountain Shaker, is complete! Holy Mountain Shaker was supposed to be released with the Kickstarter, but was delayed. Unlike with the previous books though, and going forward, the PDFs will no longer be hosted through our Webstore. Instead, and at the direction of Gavin, we will be using Bits & Mortar. Bits & Mortar is a platform that allows publishers to get their PDFs to customers with almost zero overhead required; especially helpful for someone in Gavin's position who has so many retailers to worry about. In this way he can delegate to us to send the PDF link-embedded emails to our customers after they purchase the products using Bits & Mortar as a proxy service. So, not automatic anymore, we'll process those PDF emails when we process the book orders. 

Gavin is making tweaks to the Holy Mountain Shaker PDF as we speak. He told me that once he has all the edits made he will get the PDF to Bits & Mortar and notify us so that we can get the PDFs to those who had ordered the original Kickstarter 5-Book Adventure set from us. As a reminder, once we have the physical Holy Mountain Shaker on hand we will be sending it out to all those same folks. 

As far as our Old-School Essentials restock, we were told to wait until the Kickstarter products had been pushed out. Then we saw on Friday that North America was complete! However, the UK hasn't started yet and won't until 2 August, so they are anticipating a tentative 1 September street date for the restock. Not to dally, we've already sent our restock numbers in to make sure we're ahead of the rush. 

PAPER? GAMES NEED PAPER?!

In our continuing articles discussing the global impact of COVID on the pastime we know and love, let's talk about paper. For those who are looking at building anything you already know wood prices are...ridiculous. Paper is right there too. The three-pronged issue with paper prices start with the raw material. The world is only slowly recovering from COVID, and access to pulp is still difficult. As demand goes up so do the prices. You may not know that China is the worlds largest pulp importer, which compounds the issue with the majority of games being produced in China. You'll see that theme quite a bit in the next several sentences. 

Then, early this year China banned the import of solid waste in an attempt to get at environmental protection rules. This includes imported recycled scrap paper. That is quickly turning Chinese internal focus to domestic sources. Now the leading paper manufacturers in China have much more bargaining power than in the past. 

The third issue is also tied to China's relatively new environmental policy of single-use plastic restriction that came out during the summer of 2020. This has led to the second order effect of companies switching to paper packaging which has spiked the demand for paper-based food and packing bags considerably. 

That trifecta is causing the perfect paper storm. So, all of those board game meeples, boxes, instructions/rules (maybe they can learn how to write rules more concisely, but that's an article for another day), and boards are jumping in price. Add to that the issues with shipping we've previously discussed and you can look forward to your board game prices rising in the future. At least you'll be better informed on 'why' that's happening. It's a trend I don't see letting off anytime soon, especially as China continues to improve their environmental footing. 

ARE WE FEEDING YET?

Here's a quick one. We've been working with our webstore dev team regarding our RSS Feed for weeks now. They have been enabling and disabling pretty much everything in the background to find out why the RSS Feed isn't working. What that Feed does is turn our post into this very Newsletter. I work to get the Newsletter sent out at 12:00 Central on Sunday, and it had been running that way for over a year. Until...it didn't. Well, after over a month they think they have it narrowed down to Cloudflare. Cloudflare does a lot of different things, but website cache on different servers around the world is the primary reason we used them. That cache system shaves time of the webstore loading. However, this same cache apparently is also causing the RSS Feed issue. We've reenabled everything else, so if this was sent to you around 12 Central on Sunday I think we may be back in business! Then we have to work with Cloudflare on a permanent fix. 

EXISTENTIAL SEARCH...

No, not a philosophical theory, but that I stumbled on exactly what I was whining about in last week's newsletter. Yes, with our webstore search function. Not earth shattering by any stretch of the imagination, but I've slapped a checkmark in the 'now that's done' box. The developers of our search plugin, Search WP, were slow rolling us with search results assistance. My fault... Yeah, some pedestrian I am...how dare I assume search 'results' were the same thing as 'search'. Silly me. 

Well, turns out I had the power to modify search results the whole time, I just didn't know it. I just needed to build an Archive in our Beaver Themer plugin...which is a plugin I use for other purposes all the time. (fantastic product BTW). I stumbled on it looking for something else. In any case, now our search results are quick, show products before posts, and have pricing and shopping options right there in the results. Just what I wanted. If you have a few seconds, take the search for a spin and tell me what you think. 

THE WRAP UP

Okay, enough news for this week! Below are the Restocks, New Items, and Preorders added to the shop last week. You can click on the item to learn more, and many of the products have review and gameplay videos so you can see the game in action. If you're visiting our page and you'd like to keep up with our giveaways, sales, new products, and articles like this one just create an account here. Once created you will be subscribed to our newsletter and become enrolled in our loyalty system, instantly earning 50 Stones that you can use on your very first order. A Stone? One Stone is equivalent to One Cent. That doesn't sound like much, but you earn 2 Stones for every dollar spent and 5 for each product review, so though it may seem small, those savings add up fast! Redeem your Stones upon checkout, and they can save you up to 10% off your cart total. Loyalty Matters! 

Restocks

New Items

Preorders

2 Comments

  1. steverb511 on July 18, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    The search worked well for me, much better than how it has performed in the past.

    I was also happy to see that you have an RSS feed since I use that to follow quite a few websites. You might consider adding the RSS icon in your “Follow Us” section at the bottom of your home page.

    Finally, in the past you’ve sent status updates on preorders when publishers run into problems. Would it help if you just had a preorder status page, listing the games, preorder availability, updated release dates, and issues (such as publishers behind schedule, getting shorted on your orders, etc.) — something brief and succint? If it’s more work than it’s worth and/or creates additional problems then, of course, don’t do it. You provide such great service I’m just wondering what might ease your workload a bit.

    • Stone Valley on July 18, 2021 at 3:54 pm

      Steven, some great input there! Yeah, I’m happier with the search feature too. I’ve gone ahead and added that RSS feed icon down in the Follow Us section as you suggested. I like your suggestion to make preorders easier to handle, but it would be more work intensive than what I do now. We get our updates generally on Monday, and I can click the particular preorder product and email everyone the update at once and simultaneously change the anticipated date. Usually it’s not that laborious, but with OSE there were so many different variations of the product that I had to do that for each of the separate preorders…which was messy, but caught those who just had one or two. For those that had preordered everything they saw the same email numerous times. It would have been cleaner if it just would have been on time 😀 Thanks again, much appreciated! I’ve added 300 Stones to your account for your support. I know you didn’t do it for Stones, but we really do appreciate it! –Eric

Would you like to Comment, or have a Question?