Mid-month already?! If you want your gifts to arrive on time, it's a good idea to finalize those orders now! I'll tell you, while we may not be getting any snow, there's been a wonderful "flurry" here...of activity! Not just the amazing new games and popular restocks loaded on the shelves, or even our current board game giveaway, but the oodles of happy customers too! Pop on in and check it all out!
When a customer has that game in their hands and their eyes light up, there's nothing quite like it. Even better is when they stop in later and talk about how good the game was; hand gestures, excited voice and all. For me, as my time to play is very limited, that's what it's all about! Hello there, I'm Eric, and Wendy and I own and operate Stone Valley Games. Welcome to our weekly newsletter! If this is your first issue let me break it down. The top part here, with all the words, is our news section. We tend to keep news items close to home, but we will share interesting industry news items when we have them. Toward the bottom of the newsletter you will see the restocks, new items, and preorders we laid in last week. So, enough with the intro, let's get to it!
BOARD GAME GIVEAWAY
We wanted to do a game giveaway every month in 2021. While we did miss that goal (my fault for stumbling out of the gate) we did make it up by giving away more than 12 games this year!
Closing the year out with a bang we're going with a magnificent miniatures game that has an MSRP of $99.99, weighs just under seven pounds, and has a good rating on Board Game Geek! What is it? Journey: Wrath of Demons
In the game, four Pilgrims band together to search ancient China for the Sutras, sacred scriptures that will bring salvation to a world overrun with Demons. After fighting different Bull Demon minions, the climax of the game is the battle against the Bull Demon King. Game cards and custom dice combine for fast, tense action and critical choices enhance the Pilgrims’ skills during the game.
CLICK HERE to be whisked away to the sign-up page and check it all out!
LAST DAY FOR GUARANTEED DELIVERY
One of the most common questions we get, especially this time of year, is about shipping timelines. I'm sure you've seen the post office and UPS shipping timelines, and those are a good guide. However, let me translate those for you.
First, know that those timelines are based on items flowing at a normal rate. We are now right at the precipice of non-normal. So, what does that mean?
I'm sure you've seen it, and it does seem obvious, but your local postal carriers and UPS drivers are hustling as quickly as they can, pulling many hours of overtime, doing their very best. While this does slow things down a tad, it's not the problem area.
Regional distribution centers. There's your problem spot, especially this time of year. Your local workers are getting items to the trucks, and the truck are filled to capacity. However, once everything hits a regional hub...that hub only has so much space, employees, and capacity. Last year we saw numerous items enter a regional hub and not pop out for one to four weeks. In one example there was so much mail that it had completely taken over the entire facility, including the hallways, and people couldn't even get to their offices.
However, at the exact same time, other regional hubs around the country were perfectly fine, not slowing down at all. So, some folks received their items right on time, and others were very - very late.
We haven't seen the regional hub backup start yet, which probably means folks have been shipping early this year, but we expect it could click over at any time.
Bottom line is there is no "last day" for guaranteed delivery, especially at the 'regular' postal and UPS rates. There's just as good of a chance of things arriving on time or late, all depending on the day and the regional hub. All of that to say the best bet is to ship as soon as you can! If you are running out of time, reaching for those higher priced shipping methods can help out too.
If you're really late and don't want to risk it though, you can always send a Stone Valley Games gift card. It only takes a few seconds via email, and then they can pick up exactly what they want.
GOOD NEWS WITH 2022 POSTAL RATES?
Our long-time readers know we like to keep folks informed on shipping prices. Rates have been on a constant upward trend, with three hikes in 2021 alone. However, with the new USPS rates kicking in on January 9th, things are...getting better?!
First, know that you are currently undergoing the 'USPS Holiday Rates' which are higher than normal 2021 rates. However, unlike 2020 transition to 2021, going into 2022 prices are generally going to decrease from the Holiday Rates!
There are only two areas that look to be increasing. First is the 1 to 4-ounce First Class package (how we generally ship our MTG singles) but it's only going up by 6 - 7 cents. The other is international mail...except for shipments to Canada, which is actually taking a bit of a cut.
So, it looks like generally good news! As always, being closer to the shipper is helpful, and our system will automatically apply the new rates when they kick into effect.
We checked, and UPS has not released any updated rates for 2022. In the case of shipping rates, I'd rather have no news that bad news!
OBSESSION AND FREE SHIPPING
As a small business we have the flexibility to modify our operations fairly easily. That's why you'll see so many different ways we distribute PDFs with physical books. We literally cater that operation to exactly what the publisher wishes. In many cases were one of very few retailers that can distribute free PDFs with some books - solely based on our relationship with the publishers. We take that relationship seriously, and we are very careful to follow their rules so we can continue sharing with our customers.
In that vein we are going to adjust our future Obsession board game process. As you likely know, we ship to contiguous US for free once the cart is at or above $100. However, once we restock and start selling Obsession again, the base game and expansions will not be eligible for free shipping. Also, just to make sure, anything with those items in a cart will not be eligible either. I'll make sure to clearly explain it in the product pages too.
Technically it should have been that way the whole time. However, on the day I loaded the restock into the system our shipping software did not categorize the game correctly. As I loaded it in and moved right to local customer sales, by the time I got back to the computer several hours later we had already sold out.
Dan Hallagan, the Obsession publisher, reached out to me as he saw a thread in Reddit to discuss this Stone Valley Games free shipping 'thing'. He made it clear that Obsession was not shared with many retailers to avoid things like this. We assured him we'd get our system fixed before we requested a restock so it wouldn't allow free shipping in the future, and that's exactly what we're doing.
Looking at the problem, our shipping software had been "updated" about six months ago and the old shipping rules no longer worked. As Obsession was the only game we had in the 'paid shipping' category we didn't realize it wasn't working anymore as it was between print runs for so long and just not in stock. I've been working with the developers and we are very close to a solution. Even though it won't be eligible for Contiguous US free shipping, it will still be free for our overseas military and embassy folks. I did clear that with Dan, and we're very proud to keep that service going!
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!