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Behind the Counter

The Deluge of Dead Products

by Marcus King
Oct 14,2003


The Deluge of Dead Products

By: Marcus King, owner of TitanGames.com

This week we did some housecleaning in our store. I was shocked to find, that when we pulled all the product in our shop that had been in stock for more than a full year, without selling, we had pulled a LOT of merchandise, and that it represented over 65% of all the merchandise on our shelves.

Looking at this, much of it was things I would not have guessed. Not only magazines, but miniatures, CCG's, clicky-stuff, RPG books, boxed games, and lots of other products. Looks like we need a POS system soon. :)

This puts me into a position I am a bit unfamiliar with. As a retailer, I am careful not to do things I will later regret. I don't want to do a blow out sale in my store, because I have heard many other retailers tell me they get customers waiting to buy this boxed game, or that RPG book, because they want to see if it will make it to the "50% OFF" table. I certainly do not want to train my customers to wait to buy something until I lose money selling it.

However, I also realize that if we eBay it, or wholesale it out, we get even less of a percentage of the MSRP. Maybe as much as 35-40% of MSRP on eBay, maybe as little as 20% of MSRP if we wholesale it.

Still, with $25,000.00 worth of merchandise that we need to liquidate, we will have to make some decisions. We cannot just sit on that much money tied up in slow moving product. I guess we are going to offer $1,000.00 MSRP "lot"s of product for $250 including US shipping.

Long term, we have to decide how to avoid this problem again.

This is difficult because, today, we get several dozen new products offered to us each week. New CCG's are everywhere, new RPG supplements, a DOWNPOUR of new D20 products, new miniatures by dozens of companies, a constant stream of new Clicky-Based products, and of course Magic and YuGiOh and Pokemon, L5R, Star Wars, Star Trek, Warlord and other CCG's that we already carry are all coming out with new sets on a regular basis.

As a gamer, I love to see new product. OOOohhhhhhhh, shiney, glossy, pretty. But, as a retailer, they are all little decisions that kill me. Carry this, and it may not sell. Don't carry it, and I may miss MAKING a sale.

I am seriously considering dramatically reducing the number of games we carry, and go into comics, collectibles, scrapbooking supplies (yes, I'm serious) or other lines of merchandise, just to reduce the number of decisions about GAMES I have to make. Currently, I have over 100,000 different game titles and items in stock. Single cards, miniature blisters, back issues of magazines like Dragon or Strategy & Tactics, boxed games, RPG items, dice, you name it we carry it, and we have a lot OF it (whatever IT is).

When I was a kid, the local game store had D&D, Traveller, Avalon Hill Games, SPI games, and dice. A few miniatures. Some graph paper, and some hex paper. Paints and brushes. Man, that was it. And, the selection, I always felt, was excellent! Oh! Judges Guild stuff was new at the time, and that stuff was WAY cool.

Now, we have a LOT more choices. 300-350 manufacturers are represented in our inventory, over 100 different RPG's alone, some of them have over 100 SKU's each, literally tens of thousands of miniatures, hundreds of different sets of dice. It's just too much.

Don't get me wrong, I am not anti-manufacturer. Anyone who has a dream of being a games manufacturer has a right to pursue that dream. Unfortunately, from my point of view, the bar to entering the industry as a manufacturer is now so low that we have too many potential products to carry.

At the same time, on planet earth (I always wanted to say that): We have more manufacturers who, realizing that they cannot get their products into enough stores shelves, that they sell primarily online (another way in which the bar for manufacturers is too low), and this cuts into my sales, too. Damned if I carry it, because it may not sell. Damned if I don't, cause it may have been a sale I would have made, but lose to the manufacturers website. Not criticizing manufacturers, again, just saying that it does effect retailers. A Manufacturer has to do what they have to do to stay viable.

So, what's the answer? For us, we may literally decide to make out retail store a top-5 store. Carry the top 5 RPG's, the top 5 Magazines, the top 5 CCG's, the top 5 Boardgames, top 5 wargames, top-5's in other categories, and drop ALL of the other merchandise form our retail selection, and just offer those items on a used basis from our website.

Here is an example: A guy came in and wanted a "D20 book dealing with Pirates." I had 4 different products on that topic, and his choice? He wanted the "OTHER ONE" which I have never heard of. We had exactly the SAME experience when it came to a customer wanting a D20 "wild west" book. The selection is too wide, and the customers have too many choices in the marketplace for us to fill their needs on a wide basis.

However, if we had packs, starters and singles for the top 5 CCG's, starters and boosters and rulebooks for the top 5 miniature games, and a solid selection of the top 5 RPG's, and other top-5 category games, then we would fill 80-85% of the game-purchase needs, and drop 75-85% of the chaff from our inventory.

Ummmmmmmmm, the fun of being self employed. :)

Marcus King
637 Capital Ave SW
Battle Creek, MI 49015

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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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