Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne talks about his store's recently installed TableTop section.
Sitting at the computer as our GateCrash Game Day winds down, with only a half dozen diehards in the back room (thanks Wizards of the Coast for helping us put on such cool events) with our second best day in sales so far this year (the Friday of GateCrash's release was the only day to top it).  Mildly amusingly, we didn't do much extra to generate sales, as participants in the Game Day didn't spend much extra beyond what they normally would.  Our recently installed TableTop section did generate a goodly share of sales, as there are about five empty spots where TableTop featured games used to sit.
So, I am using this quiet time to muse about several things that have caught my attention, just not items major enough, at least currently, to warrant a full column.
Speaking of TableTop, though the program still drives sales, the level of product movement it generates here is nowhere near as high as the level that we saw prior to the show's Christmas hiatus.  Consumer viewing patterns for a season of programs are still based upon a continuous flow of programing, as has been demonstrated on broadcast television for year.  When a network starts a program, broadcasts it for part of a season, then takes a hiatus before returning, viewership does not return at the same levels as it did prior to the hiatus.  Hopefully, if there is a second (and third and fourth and…) of TableTop, they will broadcast the entire season's run consecutively rather than taking a break during our peak selling season.
Also regarding TableTop, I noticed during the Dragon Age RPG two-part episode, the link below the video does not send customers to Target's website to purchase the game, as it has since the arrangement with Target began last fall.  Instead, it sends the customer directly to Green Ronin's website to make the purchase, also recommending your FLGS.  Also interesting is that, while the Dragon Age RPG is listed on the Target website, the listing says customers cannot currently buy it through the website, nor is it available in stores.  On a related note, we have not seen an uptick in Dragon Age sales here due to the "TableTop Effect," the way we did with Fiasco or the board games featured on the show.
Although Pandemic's endemic out of stocks over the Christmas holidays attracted lots of attention from game stores, another TableTop-featured game was out of stock for the entire holiday shopping season and still has not come back into distribution.  Zombie Dice, both before and after its TableTop episode, sold steadily for us, and many other stores.  Much like Pandemic, none of my distributors have had it in stock since before Christmas but unlike Pandemic, Zombie Dice is available through multiple distributors and also unlike Pandemic's publisher, Steve Jackson Games has a pretty good track record of getting their out of stock products back into production very quickly.  This makes the three-month long absence of Zombie Dice quite surprising.  We can get Zombie Dice 2 without any difficulty but it is rather had to sell the expansion to people who don’t have the original game.  Here's hoping the out of stocks do not last much longer.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of