Friday, 25 January 2013

The Perils of running a game shop

Otherwise known as " Why it's sometimes damn hard for me to justify buying from a brick-and-mortar store. Note: this is really just an anecdote about a recent experience of mine.

There are two schools of thoughts on this. Some believe we should buy local to support the local stores, the other believes that it's really a matter of economics; whoever is cheaper wins.

Personally, I'm a mix of both. I tend to have a fixed value for items I want to purchase in my head and if the store can meet that value, I generally will buy from then barring other circumstances. Of course, if I can find it much cheaper online, I would get it online. Like I did when local anime stores were selling the kotobukiya bishoujo series for 100usd when I could get them online for 50usd from USA. Basically, I support stores, not scalpers in a brick-and-mortar form.

So tl;dr, I pre-ordered zombicide and paid the full amount in October from a local store. For those who don't know, zombicide is a board game that was on kickstarter and was shipped to its backers in Q3 of 2012. Now the store was supposed to have it in store in November.

26th November and still no news. I leave as msg on the stores FD facebook page and one of the owners replies to me saying that their supplier still hasn't shipped it yet but they hope to get it in their next shipment 2 weeks later. OK, fine.
26th December, I leave another message asking on the status of the order. Again I'm told its still not shipped and will probably be new year, in mid January probably.
18th January, I ask again. By this time, I'm pretty fed up. All I need to know is that the store has had full payment since October, I was told it would be in stock on November and every single time I've had to be the one to chase up on the status of the order. Not once have they pro-actively been the one to tell me the shipment has been delayed and the stock won't be in. And now 3 months later, they still tell me they have no idea when it's being shipped. To make matters worse, I know online stores like Amazon, CMON and miniature market have had it in stock since early January. Yet this store can't seem to bring it in for three months.

It's not that I'm chasing them for stock. I'm chasing them for something I've paid for since October. You'd think the least that could be done was to be the one to tell me when the shipment was delayed. Instead I've felt like it was only when I reminded them that "hey I still haven't received zombicide" that they remembered " hey someone ordered that". This isn't exactly the kind of service impression you want to give people. No wonder people say local service sucks. Meanwhile they were perfectly capable of getting other stuff like GW or malifaux or FFG board games.

So with that back story, I'd just like to say this. "Dear brick-and-mortars stores, you are not selling a physical product. Anyone can buy anything now from the internet, they don't need to buy it from you, especially if you're more expensive. Instead, what you're selling is a service. Service is what will get people to come back to you, provided your prices are reasonable."

To end this, I'll give another anecdote. Earlier, I had pre-ordered the Iron Kingdom RPG book as well; but from another store. This was an insanely hot item and it was literally out of stock everywhere when it launched. It took me 2 months to get it, but this was OK since I knew it was insanely hard to get a hold of. After it came in stock, the store owner privately confessed that he had gone around to the other game stores in town to try and find a copy so that he could fulfill our orders but they were out of stock too. That's what I consider impressive service.