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Behind the Counter

Two weeks in the life of a retailer

by Marcus King
Jul 16,2003


Behind the Counter: Two weeks in the life of a retailer

I love gaming conventions. We go to a lot of them, it is literally my only break from the retail store, and the time during which I get out from behind the counter. We have booths this year at Origins, GenCon and dozens of other conventions. We will do about 29-30 conventions this year.

Game conventions are fun, profitable, and sometimes just funny.

Recently, we attended ORIGINS GAME CONVENTION in Columbus, Ohio. A 4 day convention packed with 24-hour a day action, nonstop gaming, and THOUSANDS of attendee's. We had a 10' x 30' booth, and we ran the used and rare game auction which itself took a LOT of time, effort and expense. We arrived like marines on a beachhead, in waves. :)

Due to our convention truck sitting so low on it's springs, we left Monday night. Me, Ted Wilson my new business partner, Alan, Nick and Jason (the hirelings) were all in the convention truck. We all arrived late Monday and crashed. Tuesday morning we got to the convention hall early, and were allowed to unload and set up our booth, and begin scoping out the auction area. We went to bed Tuesday night sure we were all set.

Wednesday morning Laurel (my wife) Tonya and Kattarina (our daughters) and Fred arrived by car, and Margie flew into the airport. We had to get everyone settled in, and we had to move the convention truck: Which promptly caught fire and burned. Crispy. After the fire, Chuck and Aaron arrived. Yea!

The TitanGames Flaming Truck of Death +3.

Talk about a surprise!

On Thursday, we were ready for the crowds of happy fans and gamers who flooded the convention hall. Thousands of people attended the convention, quite possibly a record attendance for an Origins Thursday, and our booth was humming. We were also accepting products in at the auction. And our last volunteer arrived to help at the con. Yea, our crew was full! By Friday night, we had over 1000 items to sell at the auction, and had done a LOT of business in our booth. The crew at Origins, sponsored by GAMA the Game Manufacturers Association, was a bit understaffed, so we did as much as we could to take the pressure of the auction off of them. We put up signs, did some pipe and drape work, moved tables, scrounged stuff from the convention utility area, etc. We got to bed fairly late (or so we thought) at midnight.

Friday we were scheduled to begin selling at the auction. Our licensed auctioneer showed up on time, we took in a LOT more products, and started selling on Friday. The booth in the dealers room was humming, and everything went really well. A few old veterans of the Origins Auction complained that the auctioneer was going to fast. Seems an auctioneer is actually trained to sell a LOT of stuff, in as little time as possible. Huh, go figure. Eventually, I decided that since the auctioneer was licensed, certified and trained, we would adapt to him. His pace was astounding, but he would slow down or stop for questions, so I think he did a fantastic job!!

Saturday, things went nuts. We were swamped at our convention booth sue to a huge sale we had trying to sell ALL of our convention merchandise in order to avoid renting a UHaul truck, and also to build up enough money for purchasing a new vehicle. We only had liability insurance on our old truck, so no insurance money would be coming our way. (ouch!). We finished up selling late Saturday for the Auction items. And, we began the arduous task of reconciliation of the auction items, and the process would be hampered a bit by a computer crash. The convention staff worked a total of 32 hours straight from that morning to late Sunday getting everything figured out and the sellers who were waiting all paid up.

Also on Sunday, we finished our 50% off sale on all the stuff in our convention booth. And, in the last hour, we sold EVERYTHING that remained except the fixtures. The convention vendors room closed at 4PM, and we contacted two companies to get our fixtures home. Cheesex, out of Fort Wayne, Indiana took most of our old milk crates home, and Phil Lacefield took our gridwall, ladder, tubs and cash registers to a storage facility near GenCon. Nicks dad picked up Nick and Jason and Allen and took them home, Margie barely made her plane, Ted and Chuck left with Aaron, we loaded into my wife's car: Laurel and myself up front, Fred, Tonya and Kattarina in the back. We literally had to abandoning several items that would not fit into the trunk, including a shrink-wrapped Shogun game, and a pile of D&D books. Still in the parking lot, as far as I know.

Not quite done, Monday morning (June 30th) I got up early, took my wife's car to get my little Mazda pickup (personal vehicle, not the crispy convention truck) and went and traded it in on a big GMC passenger van which could seat 8, and pull a large trailer. Got my youngest daughter, drove to Fort Wayne, and packed in our showcases, milkcrates and cash register. Drove back to Battle Creek, and unloaded them. Jerry, my wife's x dropped of our son, Max, who is 8 late Monday. I then posted on several newsgroups, message boards and net sites that we were buying used games.

Tuesday, July 1st we took the girls to the airport in Detroit, they flew to Germany for 2 weeks vacation, and then drove almost nonstop to Las Vegas to buy out another retailer who was closing (we needed the inventory). Spent the 4th of July with my inlaws and drove back nonstop to find our store nearly packed full of over 200 boxes of used merchandise we were sent by over 40 sellers, who all wanted to sell their items, in response to our online solicitation. That was July 7th. Now a week later we are again gearing up for a convention this weekend: MichCon in Warren Michigan July 18-20.

We then have GenCon the following weekend July 24-27, Flat con and GameFest on the two following weekends.

Summer Vacation? Not likely.

Meanwhile, our Tshirts are due in soon. UHaul orange shirts, with a picture of our burning truck on the back, with the words: "TitanGames Flaming Truck of Death +3" on the back. They're $15 each, or free with an order of $150.00

Hope to see you all at MichCon, GenCon, FlatCon and/or GameFest in the coming weeks.

Marcus King

About the author: Marcus King is the owner of Titan Games. Titan Games has a large retail presence in Battle Creek, Michigan. As well as a website: where they offer over 100,000 different game items for sale. Titan Games also attends 20+ game conventions every year, including GenCon and Origins. This year Marcus is in charge of the Game Auction at Origins. With his wife, Laurel King, they recently bought Contemporal Magazine, the 10+ year running Convention Magazine for games, anime, cards, comics, sci-fi & fantasy, and other pop-culture events.

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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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