Rolling for Initiative--A Tale of Two Game Stores
Column by Scott Thorne
Published: 07/30/2012 02:02am
Had the opportunity to speak at a summer meeting of the European Wizards of the Coast Marketing and Store Outreach staff in Aix les Bains, France, last week (just west of Geneva, Switzerland for those of you who like to keep track of these things. I'll be glad to come speak with your group too, on retailing, marketing or consumer behavior. Email me for details). As part of the meeting, we visited a couple of game stores the Store Outreach staff described as fairly typical of European stores. Given that, I noticed some significant differences between those stores and typical ones in America.
2. Board games are king. This makes sense, given that Europe is the home of the Essen Game Fair. However, I was unprepared for the dominance of boardgames as they occupied three quarters of available shelf space in both stores. From what I gathered, boardgames are far and away the best-selling item in both stores, with trading card games a distant second, followed by miniatures and, waaaay back there in terms of sales, RPGs. I couldn't even find any collectable miniatures, such as HeroClix, though I did see advertising in the stores for them. Maybe due to the channels of distribution but it rather surprised me that neither store stocked any of WotC's recent run of board games. No Castle Ravenloft, Legend of Drizzt or Lords of Waterdeep. Of course, their size certainly weighs against them, given the size constraints of the stores.
4. A Sense of design pervades the store. Unlike many American game stores, which have a mishmash of fixtures from different sources (mine included), here, with the exception of displays provided by the manufacturer, store fixtures all matched, avoiding the jarring effect of bookcases interspersed with rolling video racks or three different styles of display cases making up the cash wrap. Colors and shelf design were consistent throughout the stores, creating strong eye appeal.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the stores. The size, as noted above, was a bit off-putting to someone used to the size of American stores, but both stores did an excellent job of maximizing the use of the available space, without seeming crammed to the gills.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflct the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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