Thursday, September 01, 2011

Day 243 of 362

Red is a good color for a "power tie", but is there such a thing as a "power sweater"?

It's Thursday here in Gopherland. I've got about half an hour before I have to hit the store and open up. Tonight we have another couple of RPGs (Deathwatch (WH40K role playing) and Hellfrost (Savage Worlds)), plus some folks playing some casual MtG.

The mention of MtG leads me to something I've had swirling in my noggin since Sunday. We had an incident in the store where I caught a young man (roughly 14 years old) pocketing some cards in an attempt to acquire an extreme discount. I witnessed him doing it, stopped him and his two brothers before they left, and called him out on it. He tried to make up a weak story about "putting them back" as he was removing them from his pocket, but everyone in the room knew what was happening. This was the second incident with this set of brothers. After taking back what was rightfully the store's inventory, I told each of them, individually but in public, that they needed to leave. I wasn't rude about it, but I certainly wasn't polite, either.

A short time later, I posted on the Gopher Facebook page that I had issued the first three bannings in the store's 4+ year history. I took down the post about 30 minutes later, as I did not want it to explode into this big debacle, and it was already showing signs like it might. Another reason I took it down relates to the history of the store and what the motto of the store has evolved into.

Our store was started out of the whimpering flame-out of another store, "V". V was started out of revenge by a number of folks who had been banned from the other store in town (which is still around and is our main competitor). For this post, I'll call that store "T". The reasons for the various bannings from T were myriad, and many made exactly ZERO sense whatsoever, but almost universally, none of those reasons included proven theft. Anyway V started, but within two years had entered that "death spiral" that we've all seen game store go through right before they shut their doors. Many of the V regulars who had not been banned from T (myself included) did not want to go back to T, for various reasons. We begged and pleaded for one of the most-liked V managers to start a store. So he did... he (along with a friend) started Gopher. How Loquacious and I came to be the owners and caretakers of Gopher is another story and not relevant to my point with this rambling section. The point is, Gopher's initial customer base was built on people from V who had been banned from T.

Due to that history, I have always said I would never ban anyone from Gopher, with the exception of someone who stole from another Gopher/customer while they were in the store. Stealing from us will get you "banned" by the police in terms of punishment, but I was always open to the possibility of people coming back.

In this case, I blinked. Instead of calling the police, I asked them to leave the store and posted the banning. Lo came and spoke to me that day, and got me thinking about what I had originally stated and the history of the store. She also spoke of what the store motto has evolved into DUE to that history... "EVERYBODY Gets To Play". So, I had been rethinking that banning and wondering if, in a fit of minor anger, I had forgotten a core belief of the store philosophy... then I came home that night to Skribl (our son)...

He and I spoke about things, and he was (and is) all for the banning of the three individuals. When I explained to him why I was back-pedaling on the banning (stealing from us won't get you banned, but stealing from another customer will), Skribl came back with deeper thought than is usual for him... I was surprised by what he said, and I'm still mulling over if I agree with him... He said "stealing from us *IS* stealing from another Gopher."  I asked him how that logic follows, and he proceeded to explain...

"What if someone wanted one of those cards for their deck or collection? With them stolen, we no longer have it in our inventory, and thus, can't sell it to a customer that wants it. A Gopher has lost out because we don't have what he wants or needs".

It floored me that he connected those dots. Once again, I'm proud of him. I'm still not certain I agree with him entirely, but Skribl's made a strong argument. The boy's going to be okay in life.  =)

Overall, though, I still need to talk with Loq about it more. We need to come up with a concensus decision soon... or else the wound will fester...

peace all... GopherDave

1 comment:

  1. Dave,
    You've been fair with people. Oddly, I agree with Skribl here, to a point (see below).

    I shop at the Gopher because I cannot stand "T" in any way, shape, or form. But, say, if someone stole a Warjack or one of the Pathfinder books I've been looking forward to getting, not only do you lose money, but the clients feel bad (and you have clients, not customers, there is a HUGE difference). Game stores are already operating in a razor-thin profit arena, and theft just exacerbates that problem. It's the biggest problem for any store, bar none.

    You're lucky to have such a happy group of clients with your store. Skribl is right that stealing from the store does steal from the rest of the Gophers as well.

    Going back to the motto that "everyone gets to play" is perfect.

    Allowing certain people unmonitored near easy-to-steal merchandise, well, that's not playing, that's business (see the difference). Perhaps, unlike banning, you can try to have a monitored station for those who would be banned. Yes, I'm saying that you sit right next to them while they thumb through cards. Only one person allowed at a time, and if they bring friends as distractions, you sit them at a table away from merchandise. It's not playing at that point, it's business.

    If they want to come and play in a tournament, fine. If they want to steal from you in the meantime? Disqualified and "escorted" from the store, either via police or yourself (your discretion here) with a warning that the above monitoring will happen every time they come to the store from now on.

    Is anything I said relevant, possibly. I hope some of it helps.