Weekly Store Update: 23 May
With every roll of the dice and turn of the card we're continually amazed by the sheer breadth and depth of this hobby, and are so grateful to be a part of it! Last week is in the books, and what a busy week it was! So many new items, a lot of which were preorders, and restocks too. In the news you'll find out why we're feeling appreciated, and learn why our game giveaway was extended just a smidge.
Wow...that was a fast week, was it for you? Hiya, I'm Eric, owner of Stone Valley Games along with my wife Wendy, and I will show you around our weekly newsletter. For our new readers this top portion holds our shop news. However, if you just want to skip to the new store entries you can jump down to the bottom of the post to see the restocks, new items, and preorders we laid in last week. For now lets get to the news, shall we?
BOARD GAME GIVEAWAY
Normally we run each Board Game Giveaway for two weeks, but this time we're going to keep it going until 26 May! As you may know, Solosaurus and Stone Valley Games joined up to bring you the chance to win a free, still in shrink copy of The Shores of Tripoli. So, if you haven't signed up yet make sure and CLICK HERE to enter. An extremely approachable wargame covering the events surrounding the First Barbary War, it scores in the 8's on Board Game Geek and has an amazingly well designed solo system for the Tripolitanian side, so don't hesitate to sign up to win, and good luck!
FEELING THE LOVE
As a small business we have to carefully balance our community outreach as to not overstretch, but quite honestly helping folks get to the games they love is one of our most rewarding experiences. We are so happy to be in the position to support our overseas deployed military folks, and local (and some not so local) school districts. One of our longest running relationships is with Doug from the Chugach School District in Alaska who initially reached out with his problem of trying to keep their gaming groups stocked as they are so far removed from the mainland. Well, Doug and the gang surprised us as you can see in the photo above with a gift. It's an amazing photo on metal that he took from the shores of Chenega Bay, one of their school villages in Prince William Sound. He wrote a note accompanying the photo to tell us he wanted us to have a visual reminder to hang in our store to thank us for all the wonderful service we've provided their schools. Hey, no problem Doug, this will definitely find a place!
NEW SOLO MODE FOR LOST RUINS OF ARNAK
You'll see later in the post that we received our much anticipated restock of the popular board game Lost Ruins of Arnak. What you may not know is Czech Games has just released the first two (of four) chapters from the solo campaign, The Search for Professor Kutil with The Lost Expedition, and The Survivor. (the final two chapters will be released soon)
To play the campaign, you will need a physical copy of the Lost Ruins of Arnak board game, and either their web app or a print-and-play document downloadable from their website. Both the web app and the PDFs are available for free!
What is the solo mode all about? Well, the famous scholar’s expedition vanished somewhere in the uncharted waters of the Pacific Ocean while searching for a mysterious island nobody believed existed. It seems the professor may have found what he was looking for, but what happened to his expedition? Only scarce traces of the team’s presence remain, but nothing truly explains where they are or what happened to them.
We love it when publishers continue to pump content into their creations, and know that quite a few "who's who" in the solo gaming world play tested this mode, so be sure to check it out!
If you've been following our newsletter you'll notice that I sometimes discuss lessons learned or give you a glimpse "behind the curtain" on how we run the shop. As we consider you a significant part of our community we figured you might be interested in that kind of information. With that in mind, a few of our long-running issues have been restock reminders and customer holds. When it first started, our customers asked for restock information and I kept a physical list with email addresses. For holds, customers would request to 'build up to their free shipping tier' and I would pull the items out of inventory and keep their items separate until they met the threshold and then they would purchase the entire bundle at once. Well, let me tell you, that was really easy when we first started. Over time, as our game inventory and customer base grew, those physical lists and individual growing piles of games grew. Eventually it became so time intensive just in email communications, then customers would change their mind and in doing so I often forgot to add the games back into the computer inventory system properly, and then there was the time our hard drive became corrupted and I lost the 'reminder' list. Chilling, let me tell you. So we decided to make some adjustments.
For game holds, it quickly became evident that the primary problem is we simply cannot carry the necessary volume. I ran some numbers, and estimated we'd need to house approximately 15 to 20 of everything so we could maintain the hold list while still serving customers that wanted the item now. I know there are all sorts of automated tools to assist in managing the holds to lighten the burden with emails and inventory, but as we're such a small store the amount of physical space required makes it impossible. Running some back of the napkin calculations reveal that if I had the facility space for holds, I'd also need at least two employees to properly maintain, organize, communicate, and orchestrate them. At that point I would combine holds and preorders together to fully round out the 'Potential Orders' section. It may happen someday, but a lot of things would have to fall just right. For now though it has been put to bed.
As for our email reminder system on restocks, I found an automated tool for that, and it's been working wonders. You may have noticed that there's a Wishlist option on all of the product pages. Well, the way it can work is if you add a game to your Wishlist, you can have the system send you an email once we restock it (or change the price, etc.) so you can be one of the first to know that it is once again available. Then, if you still want the game you'll have the opportunity to jump on it. That has not only saved us a lot of time, but it has helped our customers too as now they don't have to keep checking back to see if we've restocked something... they'll receive an email. Convenient!
With these changes in place we could better hone in on our preorder communications, answer our daily customer questions in a timely manner, and ensure our core store operations received the necessary attention they demand. Hey, trust me, we're continually learning these kinds of lessons and there are many more to share with you over time!
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!