Quote from user_938036 »I take great comfort in knowing that anyone who cries the doom of paper magic has no idea how any thing actually functions and can be safely ignored.
For those who would like light shine on why this is so. Paper magic and paper play make up that VAST majority of magics existence. The "pro" community that makes up all of tournament play is incredibly visible but also incredibly small. Believe it or not the majority of magic cards are bought by casual players who are buying them to play with their friends and families. Everyone who cries doom is either vastly ill informed or deliberately fear mongering.
Except Paper Magic wasn't designed to be a "take home and play" board game
I take great comfort in knowing that anyone who cries the doom of paper magic has no idea how any thing actually functions and can be safely ignored.
Quote from WarMachinePrime »Except Paper Magic wasn't designed to be a "take home and play" board gameWrong. Actually it WAS designed by Richard Garfield to be played AT HOME during Role Playing (D&D) down times if one group was separate with the DM and another group had some time to kill. It has changed from that model but it was DESIGNED as a play at home diversion. And that is what we did at the time as well. I lived it.
Quote from Card Slinger J »Well I would assume that MTG's original design in the 1990's and what it's become to the fans who've remained loyal to the game up until this point are two different, but still interconnected things. If you have the opportunity to play MTG at home you can still enjoy it in Paper. But let's be honest, it gets old playing the same person over and over unless you change decks inbetween matches. Even the same 2 or 3 people. It gets stale quickly BUT If you're able to go to your LGS weekly and play in semi serious ranked games then you can practice with your family during the week for those FNM events. In other words, "At Home" Play is completely linked to LGS Play. The one needs the other to a certain degree.
Quote from user_938036 »Quote from Card Slinger J »Well I would assume that MTG's original design in the 1990's and what it's become to the fans who've remained loyal to the game up until this point are two different, but still interconnected things. If you have the opportunity to play MTG at home you can still enjoy it in Paper. But let's be honest, it gets old playing the same person over and over unless you change decks inbetween matches. Even the same 2 or 3 people. It gets stale quickly BUT If you're able to go to your LGS weekly and play in semi serious ranked games then you can practice with your family during the week for those FNM events. In other words, "At Home" Play is completely linked to LGS Play. The one needs the other to a certain degree.No, "at home" play isn't "Completely" linked to LGS play. LGS play makes up a minority of games played, while "at home" numbers are hard to actually quantify and "at home" is often also counted as "Anywhere that isn't an LGS or official tournament" so the games you get in at the college cafeteria while you wait for you evening classes counts as "at home" play by most metrics.
Long story short. Don't equate LGS's presence with the frequency of play. They do serve a vital role in the tournament structure and as a place for communities to grow. But those same communities grow literally anywhere thanks to social media. LGSs just happen to sell the product that everyone is gathering for. If you are at all worried about the health of paper magic then first, don't be. Magic can't currently, nor in the foreseeable future, exist without paper magic. So instead, fear for the life of magic as a whole and you might realize how ridiculous that train of thought actually is.
Quote from Card Slinger J »Of course not everyone has access to Social Media or they don't trust it enough due to the toxicity of communities they simply try to avoid due to PC / Cancel Culture. So at best you're stuck having to rely on peoples' phone numbers and e-mail addresses for communication especially If you don't own a smartphone in order to setup playgroups for certain games.
Quote from user_938036 »Quote from Card Slinger J »Of course not everyone has access to Social Media or they don't trust it enough due to the toxicity of communities they simply try to avoid due to PC / Cancel Culture. So at best you're stuck having to rely on peoples' phone numbers and e-mail addresses for communication especially If you don't own a smartphone in order to setup playgroups for certain games.This may seem overly ignorant and privileged but is it actually possible to go through life as an adult right now without a smartphone?
If you have the opportunity to play MTG at home you can still enjoy it in Paper. But let's be honest, it gets old playing the same person over and over unless you change decks inbetween matches. Even the same 2 or 3 people.
Quote from Card Slinger J »Unfortunately as long as people are stupid, policies need to be put in place assuming people are stupid. It's got nothing to do with shady business practices when it's got more to do with protecting the lowest common denominator. Each state is handling COVID-19 differently however each state isn't handling it intelligently, so Wizards of the Coast stepped in because they decided they didn't want their products associated with an outbreak. I do think that Double Masters, Mystery Booster, and Jumpstart completely devaluing the majority of Non-Reserve List cards that Local Game Stores need to make a profit from flipping card singles combined with low cash flow affecting their business during this pandemic sounds like a recipe for disaster because what good is keeping Paper Magic affordable If nobody has a place to play anymore? Organized Play for Paper Magic be damned.
Sure Local Game Stores are no longer able to run Organized Play events but that doesn't mean that they need to shutdown In-Store Play entirely for Casual players who just want to hangout with their friends and play EDH / Commander. What would give Wizards of the Coast the idea that the majority of Paper Magic players actually play at home over their LGS? I can understand If the LGS environment is toxic but that's just a false negative stereotype that EVERY LGS is like this when it isn't. Not every LGS has a loyal community (not online btw) that financially supports them especially when it's already difficult enough as it is to compete against online companies when they don't even have operational websites, no eBay accounts, or Social Media presence. Even If they do it increases online competition to the point where it's hard for these Local Game Stores to get noticed like on TCGPlayer.
Quote from Onering »Why WotC thinks at home play is the majority: surveys. They do a fair amount of market research to determine how people play the game and what players like and want so they can target products to them. The reason you see premium products and stuff like that is because their market research told them a significant enough portion of the player base wants those products. You see the major commitment to EDH because they found it was the most popular format after 60 card casual, and they built brawl in the hopes of building on that. They know that at home play is still the most common way people engage with magic, with casual and EDH leading that. At home players tend to spend less on cards than FNM warriors, but there are more of them and they tend to buy packs. I think Wizards isnt about to abandon the LGS because they make money from them, tournament engagement increases the amount people spend on magic, and limited moves packs. Getting people who play at home into their local LGS makes wizards money by getting them to spend more. They want both market share and dollars per player, so both groups are important.
Quote from Desert Sky Games »
Okaaaaay then. The first-half list for 2020 is short, of course, owing to no particular disruptive events across the industry or our economy. If only that were true. What a first half of the year we've all had, and somehow the second half has not started off especially better. Small businesses have taken it on the chin, and we are here to mark the passage of some that took that blow and did not get back up.
New to this post or to The Backstage Pass? Here's what we're doing. These store closure posts are among the highest-read and highest-shared articles I write, and one would think some more official source like GAMA would take up the mantle of tracking this, but I guess not so far.
Today's list has a tag of "COVID" for stores that cite specifically the pandemic disruption as their cause of closure, or which closed during state shutdowns and were discovered not to have reopened. Obviously a store that was already in trouble might use COVID-19 as an excuse for why they failed, but for the purpose of this article, I am taking it at face value. The situation was bad for everyone except the mass market, and I see no need to flog a corpse. Moreover, stores not closing specifically due to COVID surely were done no favors by the gigantic worldwide mess the pandemic caused.
AND NOW THE LIST.
Announced or Discovered Closed:
Chain: GAME (40 stores in UK closing out of ~260) 1000 Lives Gaming (Hartsville, SC) 42 Ale House (St Francis, WI) ABC and Toy Zone (Chanhassen, MN) COVID Action Toys & Collectibles (Jacksonville, FL)Advantage Games (Northglenn, CO) COVIDAero Hobbies & Games (Santa Monica, CA) AK Comics (Beloit, WI) All About Books and Comics (Phoenix, AZ) Apache Comics (Mesa, AZ)Apex Gaming Center (Irving, TX) Baxter's Tempe SAK Gaming (Tempe, AZ) COVID Big Rapids Hobby Shop (Big Rapids, MI) Board Game Barrister (Greenfield, WI) Other locations remain open Boards & Beans (Regina, SK, Canada) COVID Boardwalk Hobby Shop (Mount Lookout, OH) Bonanza Books and Comics (Modesto, CA) CCG-Singles.com (Portland, OR) ChronoCade (Kalamazoo, MI) Coffee With Comics (Glendale, AZ) Collector's Edition (North Little Rock, AR) Comic Book ER (Cadillac, MI) The Comic Book Store (Little Rock, AR) Comics Dungeon (Seattle, WA) COVID Connected Gaming (Phoenix, AZ) Corner Comics (Kirkland, WA) COVID Critical Strike Games (Edmonds, WA)Dice Bag Games (Duncan, BC, Canada) COVID Dice & Donuts (Preston, Lancashire, UK)The Dragon and Meeple (Los Angeles, CA) Dragon's Keep Gaming and Miniatures (Portland, OR) COVID Dragon's Lair WarGames and Hobby Supplies (Shreveport, LA) Emerald Phoenix Comics (Aldergrove, BC, Canada) COVID Empire Collectibles (San Diego, CA) COVID Ever Green Game and Hobby (Missoula, MT) COVID Fables of Calhoun (Calhoun, GA) COVID Family Game Night (Orlando, FL) Fanatix (Dothan, AL) COVID Fight or Flight Comics (Raleigh, NC) Freaks & Geeks (Denton, TX) COVID G33k Out (Ocala, FL) Galaxy Comics (Somerset, KY) Game Empire (Pasadena, CA) Game Essentials (Superior, WI) Game Hunters (Frederick, MD) Game Kastle (Mountain View, CA) chain location Game Quest Games (St Croix Falls, WI) Game Quest Inc (Radford, VA) Gamer's Cache (Mountain Home, ID) COVID Gamer's Gambit (Danbury, CT) Gamers Vault (Montgomeryville, PA) Game Rules (Portland, OR) GameStreet (Mississauga, ON, Canada) Games N Go (Roseville, MN) The Gaming Keep (Hastings, MI) COVID Gaming on Grand (Escondido, CA) Gathering Games (Tampa, FL) G Cubed (Bunbury, Western Australia) Geekygami's (Bartlesville, OK) Geeky Villain (Everett, WA) Gerard's Gaming & LAN Center (Webster, TX) Hellbent 4 Cardboard (St Petersburg, FL) Henchmans Games (Swaffham, UK) Heroes 4 Sale (Southbury, CT) Hieroglyphic Games (Cincinnati, OH) Hidden Treasures Collectibles & Comics (Alexandria, MN) entire plaza destroyed by fire Hillside Games and Comics (Asheville, NC) Hobby Knights (West Bend, WI) Hungry Hippo Board Game Cafe (Decatur, IL) Hyperspace (Lakewood, CO) Imagine! Hobbies & Games (Sherwood, AR)Inconceivable Toys and Games (Monument, CO) COVID JJGames dot com (Englewood, CO) Joe Garage Games & More (Suwanee, GA) Kapow Comics (Cumming, GA) Killer Rabbit Comics & Games (Williston, VT) Lee's Comics (Mountain View, CA) COVID Mad Reads (Brighton, CO)Magic Mike's (Portland, OR) MaximuM Comics (Henderson, NV) Nerdcore Toys and Collectibles (Ellensburg, WA)Netherworld (Warrington, England, UK) The Nexus 419 (Rossford, OH) Now Playing Movies and Games (Tylertown, MS) NuGames (Eureka, CA) COVID Oblivion Games Inc (Mansfield, TX) OOP Games & Hobby (Lynnwood, WA) PlayLIVE Nation (Mission Viejo, CA) COVID, chain The Portland Game Store (Portland, OR) COVID Prime Time Gaming (Macon, GA)Purple Turtle Comics (Vallejo, CA) The Raven's Nest (Marietta, GA) Realms Comics & Games (North Richland Hills, TX) Revolution Video Games & Movies LLC (Tampa, FL) Rocket's Hideout (Baton Rouge, LA) COVID Rockhead's Comics & Games (Kenosha, WI) Rogue Nation Games (Richmond, BC Canada) Ronin Games (Castro Valley, CA) San Diego Comics (San Diego, CA) COVID Seann's Anime and Comics (Sylvania, OH) Sho'Nuff Comics (Tuscaloosa, AL) COVID Silver Key Lounge (Mesa, AZ) COVID, indefinite Skol Games (Eagan, MN)Splat! Gaming (Burleson, TX)The Storm Crow Tavern (Vancouver, BC, Canada) COVID Table Top Cafe (Edmonton, AB, Canada) COVID, consolidating into remaining location Teahouse Comics (Sandy Springs, GA) Tolly's Game Store & Lounge (West Jefferson, NC) Toys Cubed (Toronto, ON, Canada) Erin Mills Town Centre location Toys Cubed (Toronto, ON, Canada) Oshawa Centre location Toys Cubed (Toronto, ON, Canada) Scarborough Town Centre location Toys Cubed (Toronto, ON, Canada) Square One Centre location Toys Cubed (Toronto, ON, Canada) Vaughan Mills location Video Game Trader (Calgary, AB, Canada) COVID, 2 locations closing and 1 remains open Video Game Trader (Forest Lawn, AB, Canada) COVID, 2 locations closing and 1 remains open Vigilante Gastropub & Games (Austin, TX) COVID Villains Comics & Collectibles (Monroe, LA) COVID Wandering Havoc Games (Marysville, WA) Warcraft Games (Mission, BC, Canada) Weekend Warlords (Loughborough, England, UK) Weird Realms (Cleveland, OH) COVID Wizards Keep Games (Renton, WA) Yellow Jacket Comics (Tempe, AZ)At the time of publication, the list had 123 entries representing 162 stores, totaling chains and multi-location closures as noted in their respective entries. Typically after these articles go up, I receive emails and messages about stores I missed, which I do appreciate as it helps make these articles as useful as they can be in terms of reference. The overwhelming lesson of this industry through almost half a year of COVID disruption has got to be something like "You can never assume general business conditions will remain as they are." I can tell you right now that DSG has suffered for not being able to employ our single biggest marketing draw, which is organized play. What happens to a store that has little else in its toolbox? It probably ends up on a list like the one in this article.
When you realize our industry has had to deal with the sudden near-total elimination of organized play and constant supply chain chaos, both factors completely upending even the most prudently planned square footage deployment (generally the most expensive and least changeable part of a store), it is not difficult to see how even a reasonably stable comic, video game, or hobby game store could find itself suddenly scratching the cloth. And in that unexpected time of peril, resources to weather the downturn may or may not be ready. DSG had a gigantic inventory to lean on. What if we didn't? What about any store that doesn't have a strategic reserve of some kind, whether it's cash, assets, favors to call in, some mixture of those, or what have you?
I have now seen enough evidentiary performance out of stores of different kinds and places that it has become fairly clear how a comic, video game, or hobby game store experiences wild success to where there is not only no danger, but considerable income for stakeholders. The answer to that question, which so many of us are so avidly chasing, is of course highly dependent on that store's specific physical, financial, and competitive circumstances! But once configured for maximum compatibility with those factors, things get somewhat more straightforward. The operational imperatives crystallize. Don't leave money on the table without getting something to make up for it. Don't spend good money chasing after bad. Don't let yourself get rolled by people who are out to gain at your expense. Get your home situation right. Most importantly, get your head right, because the action follows the thought, and the result follows the action. You will reap what you sow.
Get on with it.
Quote from Desert Sky Games »
One of the most stressful aspects of the COVID pandemic for game stores is that it artificially amplifies constraints. Dealing with this day in and day out starts to wear on a store owner, and I start to feel like Keanu Reeves in that new Bill & Ted 3 trailer, when he says, "We've been trying to write this song and save the world our whole lives. And I'm tired, dude."
You said it, Ted "Theodore" Logan. I'm tired, dude. Tired of every business component taking more work than it should. Tired of getting chewed out by every deadbeat who thinks we should price-match limited edition product pre-orders against the smallest store in town who pre-sold-out their one case of boosters in an hour at a nickel over cost. Tired of having arrival traffic down 90% because people call to check pinpoint stock on Nintendo Switches and virtually nothing downstream of that. And tired of the vocal minority who think we're political puppets or worse for keeping the game room closed and requiring facemasks.
But I think the amplification of constraints is the most difficult thing, because it forms a vicious circle of interdependency. Here, maybe showing you the moving parts will make this clearer.
The best Dungeons & Dragons product slate ever is on store shelves today. Right now. We have the best new sourcebooks: Theros, Eberron, and Wildemount, with limited edition covers for two of them. We have a staggering variety of dice in every color and material and in every price range. We have the best miniatures the game has ever had in the WizKids Nolzur's Marvelous line, far higher quality at a lower inflation-adjusted price than even the classic Ral Partha pewters. We have maps, dice trays, dice towers, character folios, and more. And now we have Warlock Tiles, head-and-shoulders the finest immersive terrain components D&D has ever seen.
Despite all of the above, we've seen only a fraction of the sales we'd usually get in the category. Many of our regular players have been in, and their purchasing makes up essentially all the sales we've gotten of this merch. But a majority of D&D players disappeared with COVID. We don't know what this means. In-store play is, of course, not happening, and I wonder whether it will ever be back. Zoom/Skype style play seems to be thriving. Tangible game elements become somewhat less important then. I've long speculated that the "giant table-sized iPad" appliance might virtualize much of the RPG experience, but we might reach the same effective outcome because of remote play instead of digitally-augmented in-person play. I think there will be a COVID vaccine eventually or it will burn through and be subject to herd immunity, and people will come back to the table to have wonderful times adventuring together. How long before that? A year? Three years?
So since we placed orders well before the pandemic for current D&D stock, and indeed already owned the bulk of our D&D inventory well in advance of that, we now have a huge amount of somewhat illiquid merchandise, that doesn't ship that well and isn't fast-moving like video games or Magic singles, and that even generous bundle specials only modestly move the needle on. It's not a simple case of $N worth of D&D being on the shelf, where we could liquidate it and have $N. It's the frozen turn rate. We should have $N multiplied many times over as the product comes in, sells, is replaced, sells again, and so on. It's difficult to articulate just how great the scale of this can get to an outside observer.
That same effect is happening in board games as well. We saw reasonable throughput on board games on our way into the lockdown and shortly after re-opening, and board games are a commodity category for DSG anyway. That means we stock greatest hits and new hotness, and discount it all, in order to push for market share and establish a competitive position against other local stores, without risking our real meal tickets, Magic singles and video games. But now that we're kinda sorta reopened, and people are mostly back to work, the public has all the board games it needs, and is buying far fewer of them from us, even with price tags well below Amazon. They just finished a plate of steak and lobster. They don't need seconds. So it stacks up.
With the two main general tabletop categories slowing down sales, we see them overflowing their racks. And we can't get more of the kind of racks we use right now because restocks from China are still pending transoceanic shipment. So even though we're the biggest game store in the Valley, we actually don't have enough room for all our merchandise right now. Even with a giant empty floor where the game room used to be. We should use game tables to display merch, perhaps, but (1) that's awful looking, (2) it has to be taken back apart anyway once we can reopen the game room, and (3) we're buying some really nice upgraded tables so we're currently selling off the existing ones.
Less room up front and lower sales of general tabletop means we need to lean harder on singles sales, where space isn't as big of an issue. But we're also constrained on labor! Fast and furious sales via TCGPlayer since the first stimulus landed have resulted in our million-card inventory being whittled down to, as of this writing, about 450,000 cards. We're still buying every single day, for cash or credit, and it's not enough. We have at least 300k cards in the back office right now in various stages of processing that are not entered into TCGPlayer. We're losing sales every day from people who ask for cards we know we have in the next "waves" to process, but aren't done yet, and are cost-ineffective to deep dive for on an ad-hoc basis. Our existing back-office staff are running at red-line, they have almost zero slow time on the clock.
So why not add more labor? Ah, but how are we going to pay for it? Sales are coming up shallow in D&D and board games, so we don't have "overflow" revenue available to shift toward Magic labor, which is designed to cover its own normal/ordinary pace of intake and sales, and instead is overwhelmed right now. It's fairly common for a game store with large business components to take from some and give unto others, resource-wise, in an internally Marxist fashion of sorts. But when there isn't any surplus elsewhere, and every department is subsidizing every other, there's no wealth to redistribute. (There's probably a greater political lesson to be taught here, but I'm staying well clear of that.)
Thus, we have a dire shortage of Magic singles, our highest-volume category, which we actually do own but can't get processed into the system fast enough, for which we badly need labor, which we could afford if every product category were performing even at average levels, but the two general tabletop categories are both running very thin right now, constraining all parts of this resource chain. And thus it is that Griffin and I spend significant parts of our working days plugging in labor wherever it fits, so as to give both front-of-house and back-of-house staff as much unobstructed throughput as possible. And it's still not enough.
I'm tired, dude.
My government did its best to save businesses from the worst of the COVID. As I said earlier in the thread there is no COVID here, because the border is closed and all cases tracked and quarantined (currently 8 active). They also announced further financial aid For example: small businesses here get free electricity until September (from April) as we still have government-owned power utilities.
Perhaps you should petition your government for help for local small businesses.