Weekly Store Update: 20 June
Happy Father's Day! We're back from our adventure and it's nothing like what we thought it would be. Things are quickly humming along again and there was quite an influx waiting for us upon our return, you'll have to see what's new! We have some news to share too, you should check it out.
Well, hello there! I'm Eric, and Wendy and I are the owners and operators of Stone Valley Games. I generally send a newsletter once a week, unless we are out like we were last week. For those new to our newsletter this top portion holds our shop news. However, if you want to skip the jaw jackin' you can jump down to the bottom of the post and see the restocks, new items, and preorders we laid in last week. First though, the news!
BEST LAID PLANS
Let's talk about that vacation. The plan was for Wendy and I to vacation in Wisconsin as we tend to do at least once a year. We spend a week up there to visit my family, and then a week in the Carolina's to visit hers later in the year. However, things changed quickly. Our daughter Lexie lives in Huntsville too, and was initially due in late June. That suddenly changed and she needed a lot of help. Then, tragedy struck my family and the WI vacation turned into a celebration of life for my niece Breanne. Well, our familiy does not do funerals, but you get the idea. So, Wendy and I had to split up, with Wendy staying to help Lexie and I heading up for the celebration of life. One thing about those kinds of gatherings, they bring family from all over. Though the event was somber, it was nice to see everyone and reconnect again. As I was flying back, our grandson Daniel was born - happy healthy little lad, and the mother and father are doing well too. Wendy did yeoman's work helping them out, and we are both so glad she was able to jump in like she did. So, the timing of everything happened right along with our planned vacation, and at the end of the day it all worked out...except for the "taking a holiday" part. No worries though, we will always have next time!
Old-School Essentials, or OSE, is a retro clone of the original 1st edition rules of the very first RPG. However, it's really so much more than that. The modern layout simplifies and streamlines the game significantly, making it approachable for players today. It cuts out a lot of fluff and rearranges items to flow better making the rules sing. Add in the retro art and engaged community and it has become a tour de force. We have been following Gavin since his very first OSE Kickstarter and continue to support to this day. It is our relationship with Gavin that allows us to provide the PDF with the book, as it is not available with most merchants. Gavin's latest Kickstarter is releasing now, and is mostly focused on Advanced rules. After a lot of initial confusion and flux with the publisher Exalted Funeral, absolutely nothing Gavin had any control over by the way, we are back on solid footing with a new point of contact. Good news is we will have our Advanced books heading our way in the next few weeks, AND we will also be receiving a restock on almost every OSE book currently in print. I don't want to add them in the webstore yet, as I want to get the preorders out first. However, once we push the preorders out I'll refill the webstore. I'll most likely leave another note in the newsletter once we do as we have received a lot of questions about OSE restock.
Is it just me, or is there a new Magic the Gathering set coming out almost monthly now? Hey, don't get me wrong, I love me some MTG...but geesh, it is hard to catch our breath! I mean, D&D: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms releases in about a month! Right now I am a small set behind with Commander 2021, and Modern Horizons II is rolling in as I type this. I also have updates to The List that need to be entered into the system. The good folks at Deckbox, the system we use to keep all our singles organized, still haven't been able to figure out how to differentiate between Etched Foils and Foils, so I have a bunch of Mystical Archive cards that are not loaded either. One constant as a small business owner...there is always something to do! We are working it though, and you'll see the additional cards pop up in the system over the next several days.
For a peek behind the curtain this week, I'd like to talk about the wholesale relationship and scraping a bit more profit margin for those who are interested in starting your own business, or are just curious on how it all works. It is usually publisher to distributor to retailer to buyer, and by the time it gets to the retailer there is not a lot of margin left. Add in competition from large businesses that can literally sell just above or at wholesale and make it up in volume there is a constant "race to the bottom" that can suffocate a small business very quickly. In this kind of environment everything you can do to help with that margin makes a big difference. Here are a few tips to save a percentage here and there that add up.
- Try to work relationships with publishers and skip the distributors when you can. This is extra legwork, and a lot of hit and miss, but skipping the middle man saves you a few percent, and often can get you first dibs on newly releasing games.
- Use a business credit card that pays you back. It may only be a percent or two, but it adds up. Pay that thing off ASAP, never keep a balance on it if you can help it...or that percentage you made just goes away.
- Try to get ACH with your distributors. In some cases they give you a better wholesale rate, and even if not you do not have to worry about the credit card or COD fee, so there's more savings there. This may take some time to get your business credit high enough, but is worth it.
- Be frugal and keep your operating margin as slim as possible. There is a significant distinction between what you 'need' to run your business, and what would be 'nice to have'. Focus on the first and as things open up you can slowly introduce the other. That extra cash will always come in handy.
- Inventory management matters. Keep stock on hand, but not so much that you never work through it. Some games are super hot and no matter how many you have you will sell out right away. However, it's virtually impossible to tell what games will be hot. So, if you order a lot of everything hoping to hit the jackpot and end up with a bunch of games that don't sell, it will hit you at the end of the year come tax time too. It's like a double whammy. This will take time and a bit of trial and error, but starting at lower product count across the board is key.
Earning money from just taking the time or developing process changes is good business. I will discuss what TO spend the money on in upcoming articles, which is just as important. Actually, I'll continue to provide helpful tidbits over the upcoming months and years. I believe it is not small business vs. small business...it is small business vs. the giants. We may never be able to stand toe to toe with them, but we can make a decent living if we support each other. Like, we shop small all the time. You know what I'm saying.
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!
Heya, Eric. I just wanted to offer you my condolences. I hate to see young folks pass before their time. Sad stuff. On a brighter note, I also wanted to offer you congratulations on the grandson! I’m sure he’ll end up being a gamer with grandma and grandpa owning their own gaming store. Best wishes on that side of things, my friend. May you and Wendy always know peace and happiness!
Thank you Jeff, much appreciated, really. Yes, it was somber, and a real tragedy, but Breanne touched a lot of people in her short time and she will always be here with us in memory and our stories. Our grandson is amazing, and unlike my first grandson who’s in El Paso with mom/dad, Daniel’s parents are staying here in Huntsville, so he’s going to get the full grandparent treatment. I’ll have him rolling dice soon after he knows better than to eat them 😀 Honestly I was going to leave all of that information out of the newsletter, but we’re a family shop and the folks that have helped us get here are kind of like our greatly extended gaming family, so for better or worse everyone gets a taste of our lives outside of the cash register sounds. Really though, that’s exactly the way we want it. What good is gaming without community? Heck, even solo gamers need someone to talk to! Thanks again Jeff! –Eric