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Behind the Counter

Con Jobs

by Marcus King
Mar 08,2005


Con Jobs

This past Month (February 2005) I had a lot of fun at our store. Yea! We have finished out most recent revamping of our store and I got to go out to do a convention. I love conventions. :)

I got to attend BASHCON, and ran into people from GAMA, and Mayfair Games while there. I wanted to give each a review, but didn't want to Spam the list with three threads.

So, here are my thoughts on each:


BASHCON was the weekend of February 25-27, 2005 (aka UT Bash!) At the University of Toledo, Ohio, campus, I attended as a vendor. It was my fourth year in the past 5 being a vendor at this con. Every year, they set themselves apart, in my mind.

Rarely do I get treated this good! The tables are very reasonable (aka quite cheap) and the attendance is solid on Saturday (though sparse on Sunday). The vendors hall is well set up, with the easiest access as is possible - and the convention staff provide a LOT of labor help to tote in all the goodies retailers bring to the show! BASHCON had hundreds of attendees and our sales were solid. I had 8 helpers moving in, and 4 moving out -- and 2 would have been plenty.

We did plenty of business, the food court is new this year and was nice to have a variety of food, and the schedule was fairly workable (though, you know, I would prefer to be open 9AM till 9PM but that's what I always say).

There are a lot of events, and fun for everyone. This is our fourth BASHCON, and we will be going back again next year, for sure!

BASHCON is a fun convention, profitable to me as a vendor, friendly staff and well organized. As a matter of course I attend VERY FEW "university" (game club) shows. Maybe three or four this year - most just are not profitable or well ran (don't get me started about Marmalade Dog - a con ran walking distance from my store, yuck!). But, BASHCON is among the best college shows I know of.

I ended up buying over 1000 used RPG books from several different collectors, and so we have quite the selection to put onto our website this month (And, my website guru, Brian Collins, is still mad!)

Other highlights of the show for me:

Ken Foree (the male lead in the original Dawn of the Dead) was in attendance, we yakked for a bit - until I started to feel like a total fanboy goober, and excused myself. Ken is really quite a personable guy, and he signed a neat photograph for our wall. My highlight of talking to Ken is that he is a subscriber to our CONTEMPORAL MAGAZINE which is a publication about conventions and such. Finally, Ken realized who I am and said "Oh! NOW I know who you are! You're Laurel's Husband!." Guess I am famous.

Will and William from MAYFAIR were at the show, and sent me about a dozen sales of Mayfair games - they were doing demo's and such all weekend.Susan VanCamp and Robert Krauss were at the show. I've known Susan for years now, and Robert is one of the most personable, friendly artists I have ever met! (and my Daughters favorite artist - she was at the show, so bought some art).

Mayfair Games Review

Every once in a while, I read a thread somewhere, which starts off with something like "X publisher does not support retailers". I thought I would do something a bit different.

Mayfair games, as an organization, supports retailers. First, they have a great product line. I can't think of a boxed game that outsells the Settlers line in my store. Not even all the AA (Axis & Allies) titles combine to sell as many copies as the Settlers of Catan line does. I carry every Mayfair title as evergreen, and have never regretted it.

Next, Mayfair goes to a lot of conventions and does the grass roots demo and teaching games efforts that I don't see too much any more. At BASHCON, I saw 3 and sometimes 4 tables of Mayfair games being ran simultaneously all weekend! Publishers who do this instead of running a booth - or instead of promoting direct sales - they are supporting retailers in the best way they can: They are teaching people to play games! This part is supposition, but I think that the owners of Mayfair knows that retailers cannot demo every game they stock. Heck, I only know how to play 3 or 4 Mayfair titles. Mayfair supports local shows, does the footwork to get in front of gamers, who then buy the games from retailers. Simply amazing.

Another reason I like Mayfair is: They are not a short discount line. They are constantly available through distribution. And, my favorite of all: At small and medium cons they don't set up a booth, they just tell the attending retailers they will be there. As a matter of course, I take a large selection of Mayfair games to every con I attend - in fact this line represents about 60% of new product sales I make at any con - realizing of course that I primarily sell used, rare, and discontinued games, only 20-30% of my inventory is new stuff.

Since my review is so glowing, I will point out I own not a bit of Mayfair games company, am not affiliated with them in any way other than selling their stuff at conventions, online and in my retail store. But, from a retailers standpoint, this is a great company to carry, and a high quality product line. I have never taken a return for faulty packing or any other reason, or heard a complaint about bad design from a customer, ever.

GAMA Review

I had the pleasure of meeting Greg Hacke from GAMA this past weekend while he and Mark Santillo attended the BASHCON convention at the University of Toledo, Ohio, Student Union building.

Mark and Greg were there promoting GAMA to vendors, and ORIGINS to everyone. I got to sit at the Origins Table and hang out with the guys for a couple hours, as they promoted ORIGINS endlessly.

Front Line efforts like these are incredibly important to growing the ORIGINS attendee count. I was AMAZED by how many dedicated GAMERS said "Oh, I never heard of that" when asked by Mark or Greg if they had attended ORIGINS.

I realize that Origins is advertised everywhere, and they send flyers and posters to retailers and conventions. And, STILL there are gamers out there, within a few hours drive of Origins who have not heard of it before. While some might say that is a problem in the marketing, I would say that I do not think so. And, I am impressed with the efforts of the GAMA staff to continue to grow attendance, and their willingness to sacrifice off time for the benefit of their organization.

As a vendor at Origins - I greatly appreciate the efforts of all the staff, and especially Mark and Greg to build attendance. Giving up their days off to promote Origins - well, they ought to get an award, or a comp day, or something. Their efforts are commendable!

Breaking March News. We just hired in an Origins Award Winning Author: Mark Schumann, to work on some projects at Titan Games. Mark will be in charge of several new ventures, including out publishing efforts.

Marcus King

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What do you think?

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All Counter Talk columns by Marcus King

  • On Discounting by Marcus King, 15dec05
  • Think Different by Marcus King, 11oct05
  • GENCON, August, and TitanGames by Marcus King, 29aug05
  • Another Month at Titan Games by Marcus King, 06jul05
  • The Past Week at TitanGames by Marcus King, 10may05
  • The GAMA Trade Show by Marcus King, 13apr05
  • Con Jobs by Marcus King, 08mar05
  • Don't Skip The Retailer by Marcus King, 11feb05
  • How To Open Your Own Game Store by Marcus King, 14jan05
  • The Christmas Crunch by Marcus King, 22dec04
  • Light at the End of the Convention Tunnel by Marcus King, 15nov04
  • What It Takes To Open a Game Store by Marcus King, 15oct04
  • The Big 3 by Marcus King, 13sep04
  • Discoveries by Marcus King, 11aug04
  • Con-Man by Marcus King, 19jul04
  • Turmoil by Marcus King, 16jun04
  • Business is Business by Marcus King, 12may04
  • GAMA On! by Marcus King, 09mar04
  • On A Serious Note by Marcus King, 10feb04
  • Predictions for 2004 by Marcus King, 20jan04
  • Game Retailer or Game Club? by Marcus King, 11dec03
  • The Weather Changes... by Marcus King, 11nov03
  • The Deluge of Dead Products by Marcus King, 14oct03
  • The Conventional by Marcus King, 11sep03
  • Solutions to Problems and Good Feelings by Marcus King, 11aug03
  • Two weeks in the life of a retailer by Marcus King, 16jul03
  • In Store Gaming, and our love-hate relationship with it by Marcus King, 12jun03
  • Raising a Good Retailer by Marcus King, 28apr03
  • The customer is always right (right?) by Marcus King, 02apr03
  • Introductions by Marcus King, 24mar03
  • Jumping the Grand Canyon with Pikachu and Friends December 20, 1999
  • GTS'99 April 20, 1999

    Other columns at RPGnet

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