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Behind the Counter

Predictions for 2004

by Marcus King
Jan 20,2004


Predictions for 2004

By: Marcus King, owner of TitanGames.com

December is now in the books, and I am happy to see it go. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love the holidays, and I love seeing my children on Christmas morning. I also enjoy the increase in business - but am thankful when we stop doing the expanded hours, and take a couple days off, too. Sigh.........................

So, we are heading into February with a renewed vision of our business plan, and a renewed sense of profitability. Profit: Good. Much better than the alternative. :)

Looking into my crystalball (tm) I see much change in 2004 for the game industry. KB Toys has filed for bankruptcy protection (http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/040114/retail_kbtoys_7.html), and in fact, may others have too: December 3, FAO Schwartz & Zany Brainy filed, December 28, WOTC stores & Game Keeper Stores announce closings, January 14, KB Toys file for bankruptcy.

I also know of 3 independent retail stores, who's owners I know, have decided to close since January 1st.

My plan for 2004: Survive at any cost, or get swept aside in a wave of closings, and product overload.

What is causing the problems? Well, first, I think that a LOT of it is people hung on until after Christmas, and were already considering closing before the holidays - but held out to get in the good month of sales. Not a bad idea. But, the industry has an ebb and tide to it: Thousands of retailers popped up due to Magic in the mid 90's, and many died off in the late 90's. More came into business on the POKEMON wave, and died off in early 2000 as the supply of Pokemon exceeded demand, and it was available everywhere. With clicky games and YUGIOH booming the past two years, more retailers popped up once again, and we are seeing a contraction again. Not all of the MAGIC boomers died off, or the Pokemon boomers, nor will all the recent boomers die off.

The industry is in fine shape, but just changing.

I think that this could be good for the industry as a whole. Unprofitable retailers leaving the industry will make room for new blood, and some of them will be much better retailers than those they are replacing. And, hopefully, there will be some limited contraction in the manufacturer sector, too, which will result in a healthier industry as a whole.

The times they are a changing. And, we plan to change with them. We are looking to position our company profitably in several sectors. First, we are broadening our selection of merchandise in our retail store. Second, we are cutting the fat from our online inventory, and liquidating it by auction in various places. Lastly, we are buying - as it is currently a buyers market, with a deluge of products being liquidated, and stores closing. We are buying now to have inventory in the coming years. (we are buying private collections, too, if you have some for sale).

My advice to gamers: Buy local whenever you can, support your local store with not ONLY your dollars, but with your presence, your vocal support, and patronage as well. Let the owners know you like their store, value their service. It makes a big difference. :)

Yes, yes, I know - I make my living by selling online to gamers worldwide. But, your local store has to come first. Don't just shop price. If you only value price, you can ALWAYS find something cheaper online than at the local store. But, that will lead to not having a local store - and if that doesn't bother you, then okay, shop eBay. But, if you value your local store, buy as much as you can at that location

I don't blame people for buying their boxes of ccgs online. We all have to do what we think is right with our limited funds. But, the reason we no longer have Yugioh tournaments is that the local yugioh players didn't support our shop with purchases, or tournament participation: They went to Toys R Us for the free tournaments - so, we had to go in another direction with our instore gaming and inventory. Now, that TRU is no longer having events, they all want to know when we will be doing them again. The answer is we won't be.

I am looking forward to GenCon, Origins and the other cons we attend (Three FOUNDATION cons this year in Michigan, plus UCON!) (oh, and Milwaukee GameFest and PentaCon in Fort Wayne, IN). HoodyHoo!

I can't blame retailers who feel ground down, beat up and unsatisfied with their career choice for making changes. I keep a list of things I love out this industry on my wall, I can see it from my chair. The list includes:
1. I am a gamer geek, and at home with other gamer geeks.
2. I like to buy stuff and sell it.
3. I like to now have to clock in or out at my job.
4. I like when people ask for my boss, and I give them my wife's extension.

There are a lot of perks to being a game store owner. Unfortunately, job security is not chief among them. :)

See you next month,

Marcus King
637 Capital Ave SW
Battle Creek, MI 49015
877-542-6377 (toll free, orders only)

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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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