Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 15 of 362

Look, Ma! Fifteen days in and still on course despite the ADD/Bi-Polar side-effects of having the attention span of an epileptic gnat. Nyah, world. I say... Nyah!

Let's see... 15 days is 4.14364% of my goal achieved. Go me!

The tie today is a J. Garcia that I picked up as part of a combined lot on eBay some years back. Now, J. Garcia stands for Jerry Garcia, now deceased leader of the Grateful Dead. Seems he had an artistic side, and someone convinced him that his art would look good on a necktie. To be honest, most of it does. Heck, I like the look of the tie I am currently wearing. What I don't like is the feel. It feels thin and like it has no substance to it, which makes it difficult to get anything resembling a good knot out of it.

Now, the MSRP for this line of neckwear was $45.00 a shot. Not horrible, but not cheap either. For that money, there should be some heft to it. There's isn't. I've gotten $8.00 silk ties from K-Mart back in the day that had more "oomph" than this tie.

Still, it looks good, and I did get it cheap... So I guess I can't complain too much...

Oh who am I kidding? I couldn't even type that "no complaining" line with a straight face.

Okay... This tie is made by hippies for hippies, and it feels like it. People should generally stick to what they know... I mean, there's a reason you don't see Brooks Brothers selling tie-dye t-shirts. It's not their thing. So why did the supposed counter-culture put their mud-covered toes into an arena (conservative menswear) they purportedly wanted nothing to do with for 20+ plus years while they were burning draft cards and frolicking naked in fields?

I couldn't tell you... I haven't smoked that much dope in my lifetime yet.

Later... GopherDave

What You Like Personally Is Unimportant.

In my 2+ years as a game store owner, this is a business lesson I learned early on, but have had, at times, difficulty enacting its Occam's Razor-like simplicity in regard to running our store.

I can cite two instances where I should have relented to customer bias sooner, and listened to my own personal feelings less.

The first involves Privateer Press' miniatures games, Warmachine and Hordes. From the moment the store opened under its original owners, Warmachine did brisk business for the store. Enough to be a major contributor to the bottom line of the store, surpassing the almighty Warhammer 40K in sales numbers some months. The store had a brisk, active organized play set-up going, and things were moving along slowly. Then, real life started to hit some of the core group for the game, so they couldn't show up to play as often. Slowly, more and more people stopped showing on a regular basis, until we were averaging two to six players on the game's dedicated night. That's not really enough people to keep a scene going, but I let it persist for some time. Why?

Because *I* loved the game. I loved playing it when I could, and I had a ton of money and time invested in my gaggle of Menites. I wanted to use my little toy soldiers of righteousness and burn the heretics to ashes!

So, after a far too long bit of this (in)activity for the game, we took a long hard look at it. The store couldn't keep dedicating the whole playing space to a game that had maybe four people show up to play if we were lucky. Sales were in the toilet for this particular night, and it just wasn't going to revive itself no matter how much I wished it to. So we killed it... ...about four months later than we should have.

What did we replace it with? Funny you should ask? My next story feeds into that...

At some ancient point in time, I played Magic: the Gathering on a regular basis. I loved the game, and so did my wife. We were never very good at playing the game, but we had fun with it, and the collecting aspect was a blast. Then I started looking around at some of our friends who played with us. These folks were making decisions along the lines of "I can either buy Magic cards, or pay rent. Hmmm... Yeah, I can live in my car for a bit..."

Once I began witness more and more decisions like that happening, I turned and looked at my wife and infant son. I knew myself well enough that, if left unchecked, I would follow these morons down the rabbit hole in an effort to stay competitive. Yeah, I needed out of this game. So I stopped buying cards, eventually sold our small collection, and quit playing the game entirely. I liked the game a great deal, but I also liked eating and living indoors. Plus, the scene for Magic at the time was full of shady people and more than a fair bit of theft, and I really didn't want to be around that.

Fast forward a decade plus later to our ownership of the game store. Now, the store had never been really heavy into the game. We were the shop that would get one box of booster packs in for a set, and then *very* slowly sell them at a rate that had that single box of booster packs frequently lasting to the next sets release. Yes... you read that correctly. We, a store that specialized in table-top games, were selling approximately one box of booster packs... 36 packs... every three months or so. We were not the "Magic" store in town. There were two other stores in the area that had pretty much locked up the scene, and I wasn't interested in fighting them for a game I no longer played or cared about.

So, just under a year and a half ago, we started getting some inquiries about us holding events for Magic. Frequently, people would ask, we'd say we were not interested in competing with the other stores in town on this, and then they'd go away and we would go back to selling our RPGs, board games, and minis. However, there were a couple of people that asked us about Magic, were told "no, it wasn't happening", and responded with "well, we don't like the way Magic is being run at the other two stores, so we'll just learn what you guys are doing here." So they stuck around and became part of our regular crew, playing the games that we played.

After a bit of time, we looked at these folks and thought... "Hmmm... these guys stuck around even though we don't play "their" game. We should do something to reward that loyalty."

So, we ran an unsanctioned Magic event and got a few people. It went well... ...more civilized than I remember the scene around Magic ever being. So we ran another event... and another... and another... and attendance for each of these unofficial events grew. So we started to increase what we ordered in terms of product for the game, and it began to sell. Eventually, I made the decision to work with WotC (Wizards of the Coast, the folks who make Magic: the Gathering) and their organized play program in an effort to get Friday Night Magic into the store. It wasn't long before we were FNM-approved and our Friday nights went from 8 to 12 folks for the unofficial stuff to 16 to 30 people a night for official FNM goodness.

Our numbers have settled since then, but they're still a steady 14 to 20. We also do a booming business in booster packs sales, as well as individual card sales. It's helped almost triple our sales.

In this period in time, one of our Magic-driven competitors shut their doors, and we have well cemented ourselves regionally as a good shop for the game. Never mind the fact that fifteen months ago, you wouldn't have found a Magic single in our store. Now, we do okay with the game.

Okay enough to replace what was once a staple game for the store (Warmachine) with the "new kid on our block" (MtG) for a casual night. No organized play... just come in with cards, find someone to play a game with, and have a good time. Our soda/candy sales for the night, plus our single/pack sales for the game do more than justify it.

So basically, in a nutshell, we held onto a game too long because of my personal love for it, and we had shut out a proven, money-making game from the store because of my personal dislike of what the scene used to be.

Occam's Razor, kids... It cuts both ways...

peace... GopherDave

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 14 of 362

At the two week mark of our program, I find that I have repeated many articles of clothing except the necktie. Looking at the mound of silk and wool in my collection, I can probably keep this up for about... ten more weeks without repeating anything in that regard. I do have to go through the collection and cull things from years past. I know I have several ties that have been stained by food sauces of old (from many previous jobs) that I had always meant to get cleaned. I am now realizing that that is not going to happen, so I might as well ditch them.

In other news, I've been getting a fair number of friends and customers coming up and telling that they have been reading my continuous drivelling of words. I consider that awesome. Looking at the lack of followers and comments, I was afraid that I was dangerously near alone in my corner of the blog-o-sphere. It's nice to know that I'm not.

So to all of you reading along with me... thank you. 'Tis appreciated. As for your staying silent, that's your choice, but I always enjoy a good discussion. Hopefully, my words and our discussions here may inspire you to start your own blog, as my wife's blog has done for me. The Internet has given everyone a voice they might not otherwise have... ...y'all might as well use it.

peace... GopherDave

Thursday, January 13, 2011


The wife and I spoke to some good folks at an existing business about space. It seems they have a 20,000 square foot warehouse that they want to divest themselves of by clearing it out and dividing it out into four to six smaller suites.

We didn't do much more than speak with the owner and manager of the existing business about possibilities, but there is a fair amount of potential to be had here. Much of it though will depend on how much they wish to charge us for the rent.

There are a few things for and against it...

  • It's not in the best of areas. It's near a shopping corridor that borders on a not-so-safe neighborhood. Our alarm situation would definitely have to be upgraded.
  • The parking is half-good, half Crater City. It's my desire that the lot be fixed, or at least a plan put into place to make that happen sooner rather than later.
  • Once again, it's on an extreme edge of town. We are really actually trying to centralize things, but those opportunities are not presenting themselves.
  • Once again, we would be near a highway exit. Also, we would be MUCH closer to the power shopping corridor of the town.
  • We would have use/access to the tallest signpost in the county. When in use, any signage would be EASILY seen by highway traffic. Always a bonus.
  • We can pretty much dictate our layout. There's nothing currently there except (effectively) empty space. Which means we can put some thought into planning the best shopping experience for our customers.
  • Despite not being in the best part of town, we would have BETTER bus access than we do currently.
  • We could pretty much have as much space as we'd like out of the 20,000 square feet. It is my desire that our next physical move with the store (conventions notwithstanding) will be our last. I hate moving of any stripe. Plus, we are getting tired of telling customers "We're over here now". Two years after our last move, we still get people who thought we had gone out of business. That gets tiresome.
Well, that it for the time being. As things develop, I'll post updates here to at least give folks a break from the clothing prattle.

-- GopherDave

Day 13 of 362

I didn't get much sleep last night, and it kind of explains today's look. Blue sweater, blue pants, white shirt, and a conservative tie with, you guessed it, blue as one of the key colors. Putting together an ensemble this monochromatic requires little to no thought, which is good 'cause that's all the thought I was capable of this morning.

On the sweater front, I got proofs back from the embroidery place yesterday, so sweater vests with the store logo on them should be on the way. According to the place that's doing them, the garments should arrive in my hands around the 25th or so, just in time for the convention at the end of the month. I got at least one of every color they had available (black, navy blue, khaki, burgundy, forest green, royal blue, red, and white) so there should be at least some more variety involved here soon.

Then, there's always filling out the shirt and pant rotation, which can happen in smaller parts now.

Yeah, I know...

Blah blah blah blah blah...

peace... GopherDave


So... As a game store owner, one question I ask regularly ask new customers is "What games do you play (currently)?" I ask this to get a sense of what level of gaming they're into in terms of theme, game type, and complexity. Knowing that information, I can best steer them in the direction of other games I think they would enjoy. It's Customer Service 101.

Every now and then, someone turns it around on me. My standard answer is "Not as many as I would like", and that is true. To effectively run a game store, one of the last things you have time for are games. I currently "run" two HERO System 6E/Champions games at the store, plus one Deathwatch game. I "play" in another Champions game, a Dresden Files RPG, and a Deadlands: Hell on Earth game. I use the words run and play in parentheses, because I am frequently the only one capable of running the store when they are going. Thus, I spend more than my fair share of time away from the table.

The players/GMs say that they do not mind when I do this. I have a store to run. However, I know I am doing them a disservice, especially during the games when I am the GM. However, GopherDave figured out long ago that if he doesn't get to play SOMETHING on a semi-regular basis, he becomes a very cranky rodent.

I need to utilize better time management. We also need an employee or three at the store to take me away from the grunt work and free up some of my time. However, I am firmly of the opinion that we should not hire an employee until after we make our next physical move of the store. We have the money to make the hire now, but we'll be in a better position to take advantage of the extra help when we have more space.

Well, we look at a "space" later today. It's currently part of an existing business that has extra space. They are willing to make a part of their building a discreet unit for us. The idea is appealing as we would have at least SOME say in how it's laid out, but I'm trying not to get ahead of ourselves. We're going to go look at the spot and speak with the people there. If we like what they have to say and we can all make numbers work, excellent.

If not, we say thank you and move on. Either way, we have a meeting with our current landlord about a back-up plan for when our lease truly ends in January of 2012.

Until later... GopherDave

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 12 of 362

From this picture, it seems like I have no idea what I'm doing with a tie in terms of alignment. Sigh.

I took a close(r)-up shot to show off the subtle gold herringbone stripes of the tie.
Well, as I said yesterday, shirts and pants came. The shirts fit my not-so-tiny self great (size 20, 36/37 for those looking for gift ideas). As for the pants, they look great and they feel good, but they are a *TOUCH* tight in the waist. I either have to lose 5-10 pounds (which would not be a bad thing) or buy the next waist size up when I buy next. I going to try for the former, but it'll probably be the latter.

Wednesdays are busy at the store. It's when we have the bulk of our orders coming in and that takes some time to process and receive into the system. Then you have pricing, stocking, pulling for special orders, updating the web site and Facebook pages, and contacting people with orders that their items are finally in-store. This is more of the grunt busywork kids, and it's gotta be done. Just a note to all you would-be game-store entrepreneurs. It's not actually all fun and games... ...there's actual work involved, kids.

Just sayin'... GopherDave

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Space Hunting

We have an appointment to look at a space on Thursday morning. Currently in the space a carpet store/warehouse. They've got some extra space they're not using and they are willing to modify their building to give us a discreet space.

I'm not expecting any great shakes, but I could be pleasantly surprised. The location is not terrible. It's near the power shopping corridor of town and it's close to bus lines that run longer than the ones that service our current location. It still nowhere near the center of town, which makes me a bit leery. It has a big lot full of free parking, but it does need to be resurfaced. Numbers haven't been brought up since whatever modifications we request will affect what they charge us in rent.

Still, it has possibilities, and the chance to have an approximately 4000sf space laid out pretty much to our specifications makes this something we at least have to look at and consider.

As it stands, nothing is definite, but it's all possibilities...

peace... GopherDave

Day 11 of 362

Still the same shirts... still the same sweaters... I cannot wait for various shipments to get here...

UPDATE: New Shirts (along non-Jeans pants) have arrived. Unfortunately, from a boredom standpoint, the shirts are all white. Oh well, that just means less times doing laundry for me. YAY!

Beyond that, I took my lovely wife out to breakfast and reconnected with her in a social aspect. It was nice. Afterward, I went to the store, moved tables, and placed orders. With Causal MtG happening at the store tonight, it's looking like a pretty boring day.

peace... GopherDave

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 10 of 362

Okay... Day 10 of 362.

First off... YAY! I've reached double-digits in the streak! AWWW! I've got 90 more days to make the three-digit milestone of 100!

However, that does mean I can break out more of my extensive (and ever-growing) necktie collection to show off. Okay, that last bit only really excites me. =P

So, 10 of 362. That means that I have achieved 2.76243% of my goal. It's a small percentage, yes, but it'll grow.

Today at the store we have our next Warhammer 40,000 league starting up. It's an escalation league starting at 750 points and increasing by 250 points every two weeks for the next eight weeks. We're also using a rules variant called "the Rules of Engagement". Looking over the document, it seems harmless enough, but deeper thought indicates that it favors the horde armies like Orks, Imperial Guard, and even Tyranids to a lesser extent. *SHRUG* We'll see how it goes. If nothing else, hopefully our players will have a good time with it.

Tonight is a night where I get off from the store early as I will be relieved by my lovely wife. I'll probably just come home and zone out with the kids. If I am feeling productive, I'll work on my HERO6E/Champions game for Wednesday night and actually have something prepared (GASP! SHOCK! HORROR!).

Ehhh... who knows... the day is young and I still have stuff to do.

Until later... GopherDave

[Monday Music] -- STAN RIDGWAY/Partyball

Partyball is the third solo album by one Standard Ridgway. For those who have no idea who this man is, go find most any 80's  compilation and listen to the song Mexican Radio by Wall of Voodoo. Mr. Ridgway was the lead singer of Wall of Voodoo from its inception until the finish of the tour for Call of the West (the album that spawned Mexican Radio). Then he took his leave of the group to do his own thing.

I also own the first two solo albums from Stan (The Big Heat and Mosquitoes). Both of them are very good, but for some reason I keep coming back to this one. The Big Heat has some very strong songs, but the instrumentation sounds a bit robotic. Mosquitoes compensated too much, taking the singer/songwriter vibe a bit further than I like. Partyball hits a happy medium where Stan just lets his stories flow, and that's what these songs are. Stories... Stories sung in an earnest, nasal voice. It's the earnestness that sells the songs, even when they veer into the oddly surreal.

From the worker's lament/daydream of I Wanna Be A Boss to the tale of rah-rah spirit turned ironically erroneous in The Roadblock, Stan connects with working-class common-sensibilities like no one else I've ever heard (and before anyone brings up Bruce Springsteen, please keep in mind that I consider the Boss a hack).

There are tales of the absurd here as well, most notably Uba's House of Fashion, where the protagonists of the song are those looking to shed their beaten, damaged skins, and take on a new form where life can't recognize them anymore to continue beating them down.

Perhaps a nice condensation of how Stan paints his songs, here are some of the lyrics for The Overlords...

Well I been breakin' rocks up on Coolie #3
I know it's been forever, thought you'd never hear from me
The weather up here is rotten
Rainin' granite all the time
And both moons are glowin' purple
And there is no sun to shine

I been diggin' down in a tunnel
That goes twenty miles down
And I know my life is cheap
When I hear that rumblin' sound

Oh the overlords, got me workin' overtime
Oh the overlords, well they never make it rhyme

And there is something in the air
That is burning in my throat
A big, black cloud is passin'
Droppin' acid on my coat
the overlords got me workin' overtime

It's been ten years and a day
After world war nine
They pushed us to make meaning
And from their meaning was our crime...

From those few stanzas, you know that the main character of the song is a slave labor grunt in some oppressive, dystopian future. His life sucks, and he knows it. How does it end? Well... go track down the song, if not the album.

Partyball is not ground-breaking, but it is solid and challenging. There are understated grooves to many of the songs which initially masks the bleakness and irony of the lyrics, and it makes for an interesting dichotomy.

GopherDave Grade: 7.5/10

Track Listing

1.1 (Watch Your Step) - Instrumental Segue
1.2 Jack Talked (Like A Man On Fire)
2.0 I Wanna Be A Boss
3.1 (Mouthful of Sand) - Instrumental Segue
3.2 The Roadblock
4.0 Snaketrain
5.0 Right Through You
6.0 The Gumbo Man
7.0 Harry Truman
8.1 (Venus In Hell) - Instrumental Segue
8.2 Overlords
9.1 (O.K.?) - Instrumental Segue
9.2 Uba's House of Fashion
10.1 (Bad News At the Dynamite Ranch) - Instrumental Segue
10.2 Beyond Tomorrow

Lyrics Copyright (C) 1991 by Standard Ridgway. Published by Illegal Songs/Mondo Spartacus BMI. Used without permission, but with no affront meant to Mr. Ridgway or Illegal Songs/Mondo Spartacus BMI.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Gotta Love Regulars...

Earlier tonight, I had a set of regular customers give me a set of cuff links as a gift. That gesture makes me think I'm onto to something with this whole "well-dressed game store owner"-thing. It definitely lets me know that someone appreciates it.

Now if I only had a shirt with French cuffs... =)

peace... GopherDave

Day 9 of 362

Like the tie? Goodwill... $1.19, plus tax. Sometimes thrifting is good...
Sundays at the game store tend to be slower than most days, and that's the time I catch up on back work stuff, mostly rough financials to give me an idea of how much we can order for the week. Fun stuff, playing with money. It makes me feel wealthier than I actually am. =)

One thing I learned from the original owner of the store was to have multiple bank accounts for the store. One handles your day-to-day regular expenses, while the other(s) act more like savings accounts. You can write checks on them if you HAVE to, but it's better if you can leave it alone. Our extra account is where we store our sales tax money. Each day, I look at what we've collected for tax and shunt 2.25 times that amount of money into the "tax account". Why so much? Simple... Emergency/Special Project money.

If something happens, say, an intoxicated, unlicensed driver totalling your wife's parked car for example, it's good to have a spare $1200 laying around to help replace that car. Sometimes, I'll look around and realize that we are out of "store dice" (dice with the store logo on them). It takes about $350 to get a new batch in. If we have it in the main account, cool. If we don't, then we have the backup account to eat that semi-unexpected expense.

Another thing I learned from the original owner was about credit accounts from distributors. Simply put, DON'T HAVE ONE! If you buy stuff from a distributor on terms and things go south on you (a run of bad sales months, a medical emergency, etc.), that distributor can claim product off of your shelves that you have ordered from them to repay your credit debt. We buy stuff with a bank card tied to our main bank account. Once we buy product, it's ours. If we have a run of bad sales, we'll have enough debt issues without our distributors being among them. We may pay a touch more for product as a result, but the peace of mind from that end is well worth it.

Until later...

-- GopherDave

Kick Out the Jams

Looking over to my right from the computer, I am confronted by my "wall of sound". Basically, the combined CD collection of my wife and myself. At 1200+ titles, it's fairly large. The bulk of it is "mine", but we both get a lot of pleasure out of it.

Outside of family and friends, table-top gaming (Role-Playing games, Miniatures, Board Games, and Magic: the Gathering) and music occupy the bulk of my time. I've gaming for 35 years, and collecting music for a few more. They are both core parts of me. For gaming, the bulk of my writings in this blog will probably deal with the store and the gaming that happens there. Music-wise, I am debating with perhaps adding another twist to the blog and doing a sort of weekly "review" entry where I put down my thoughts on a particular album that we own. If nothing else, it'll get me away from writing about my daily necktie fetish. If the music review thing is something that y'all would like to see, feel free to make a comment to that effect.

For store events this Sunday (today), we have a Pathfinder Society game happening and a D&D4E campaign going on in the afternoon, then board gaming slated for the evening. I am not involved with either of the RPG campaigns, so I'll try to get some work done around the store, including rough financials for the week to figure out where we stand in regard to what we can afford order-wise. There is a HUGE release near the end of the month (MtG: Mirrodin Besieged), so I've got to make certain we have money socked away for that. As for the board games? Normally, I bow out of such, but I am trying to be a better store owner and the more games I play, the more knowledge I will have to pass onto customers so they can make informed purchasing decisions. Thus, I am going to try to get a few games in each week, and stop being a Facebook/Blogger-addicted hippie. It could be worse, though... I could play World of Warcraft (which I don't, and I refuse to).

On top of all that, I need to begin organizing the logistics for Winter War, the local gaming convention we attend. Making all the parts fit around that time is usually difficult, but this year it's made doubly so with the fact that the pre-release event for the next Magic: the Gathering set is on one of the days that the convention is happening. On that day, the wife, the boy, and some selected friends will be running the booth at the convention whilst I go open the store for this one event. Once that event is done, I'm shutting the store down and heading back to the convention. I will be VERY tired.

That's it for now... I've got laundry to do...

peace... GopherDave