Weekly Store Update: 22 May
It's like a shadow enveloping Stone Valley Games, one might say there's a... Massive Darkness upon us! That's right, a significant portion of the highly anticipated Massive Darkness 2 dropped this week, along with several other fantastic items! We also have some new art to show you, some shipping tidbits to share, and more. Why not click and check it all out?
Welcome to our weekly newsletter! For our new readers I'm Eric, and Wendy and I run Stone Valley Games. This newsletter is our way to share both local and world-wide gaming news of interest that popped up last week. It also provides our subscribers, both local and remote, some information on the going's on around here so everyone feels like part of the action. At the bottom of this newsletter we show you the restocks, new items, and preorders added to the store last week. All in all it's not too difficult to navigate, so let's get to it!
A FEW MORE PUBLISHING PARTNERS
As I have explained in previous newsletters, we have a few large distributors that we work with, and numerous smaller publishing houses that maintain single or much smaller product lines. In this way we can continue to get our hands on some interesting, out of the limelite products. It also gives us a chance to obtain available restock on some items that might be unavailable thru regular distribution.
The new publishers begin with Keymaster games, the publisher behind the highly desired Parks game. Keymaster will also soon be releasing the standalone multiplayer Trails game set in the Parks series.
The other isn't a small distributer in the classic sense, but they interact with publishers both large and small and work with major distributors too. It's Publisher Services, Inc., better known as PSi. The most significant benefit of partnering with PSi is their access to products unavailable at any other distribution channel.
From a business perspective, having more communication channels with appropriate publishers means we have a good chance of having the game you want redily available. Additionally, it it's a super popular game sold out everywhere, we will also be among the first stores to have the game back on the shelves on again available. So, at the end of the day, it's a win-win all around!
SHIPPING HACKS, TIPS AND TRICKS
As is well established, we ship products to our distant customers. While we do discuss shipping from time to time in this newsletter, based on the questions we continue to receive it is obvious that shipping remains an extremely confusing topic. So let's talk about it a bit again, shall we?
Off the top, I can tell you we do not modify 'how' we process a package based on the shipping. If it's free shipping or if a customer pays for shipping. If it is UPS, USPS, or whatever - we package everything to make the trip and we get that package out the door as soon as we can. Fun fact, so far this year we have turned every order around in 24-hours or less. I'm sure that not something every retailer can say!
UPS shipping is fairly straightforward, so no real tips there. All of the options available with USPS can be confusing though. For example, they have Priority Mail, Parcel Select, Media Mail and First Class. That's a lot! So, let's run thru those real quick to maybe help you narrow down your selection.
Priority Mail is the 'standard' mail selection. By that I mean everything can be shipped priority mail. It has the overall fastest shipping timelines by the USPS. It also has an automatic $100 insurance on the package. It is generally comparable with the other mailing options too.
Parcel Select is the 'value package' option. While this selection is often more inexpensive, it's also considerably slower. We've seen Parcel Select packages sit at the post office for days before being moved to the next distribution channel, where it may sit for days again. I'll tell you, it's so bad that we will not even ship for free under Parcel Select. We'll pay more out of pocket just to make sure you get your item in a timely manner.
Media Mail is for books, or items with 'pages'. If proper packaging for books is your worry, I have a similar issue! One of my personal problems with other retailers and distributors is the general lack of protection on books. No one wants banged covers and smashed corners! So, if you're worried about protection for your books you can rest assured that we package books properly no matter the label. So, you don't have to 'pay up' for Priority Mail unless you need the book ASAP. In that way, the benefit to the customer is a significant savings over Priority Mail. The only drawback, and it's only a slight one, is we cannot add any of our hand written letters or SVG bling as there is absolutely no marketing allowed with Media Mail shipments.
First Class is for items less than 15 ounces. Again, at a significant cost advantage to the customer, this is also just a 'touch' slower than Priority Mail based on our observations. This is a favored selection for many of our customers picking up a single pack of Marvel Champions or, especially our Magic the Gathering singles. We recognize that this is a very viable - even excellent shipping method.
But what about shipping problems? Based on a significant number of emails we receive, we're seeing that from a customer's perspective they often combine the entire shopping experience, from bringing up the website thru the item arriving at their doorstep to be one singular action - that we are responsible for.
We just wanted to be clear that there are two distinct activities happening when you order from afar. First is our processing of that order and getting it into the shippers' hands. Then, the shipper's (be it USPS or UPS) entire reason for existing is to get that package to the customer. If bad things happen once the package has left our hands until it gets to the customer, that's really on the shipper to solve.
However, we don't leave customers hanging. As we are well aware, again based on questions we receive, we know there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding - misinformation too, regarding what can be done. So, we help customers out when it comes to shipping issues. This runs the gambit, from attempting to track down where a package might be, to mysterious tracking messages thru what to do if a product is damaged en route.
One more quick thing. We pay for insurance out of our pocket for packages over $100. While the majority of shipments run smoothly, there's always a chance for something to happen. By kicking in the insurance ourselves, there's no time lost in getting the customer taken care of "just in case". That's just one more reason to work with a small business like ours...because we actually care!
KING IN THE CASTLE - DAY AND NIGHT
We are excited to continue presenting new art that will help build our website and physical products up, and King in the Castle is the latest. As a continuation from our introduction to the King in the Castle story and black & white photo in the newsletter a few weeks ago, we have a few rough variations ready to go.
Click on the images below to check them out! You can cycle between them to turn it from day to night. Fun!
The concept on coloration is a 'night view' and 'day view'. As you can see, these are very close to completion now. We just need to complete the nuances between each version and I think we'll be done with this piece. Then, I'm thinking of using this art to build out our Stone Valley Games Account Page so that everyone has their own castle to rest in when stopping by. We'll be sure to share the finished product with you once we have it!
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!
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