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 changes at Gen Con Trade Day and another delayed WizKids release.

You might have noticed that Gen Con is this week.  I certainly have, though the blizzard of emails I used to receive about it have dwindled, replaced by a similar blizzard of Facebook posts and Twitter updates.
One thing I have not heard much about is Gen Con Trade Day.  I have written about Gen Con Trade Day in the past, a date prior to the start of Gen Con set aside for panels and presentations targeted at retailers, librarians and educators.  For the first couple of years of its existence, we heard quite a bit about it and Gen Con LLC worked hard to convince retailers (and librarians and educators too, I imagine) to attend.  This year, nothing.  At least nothing targeted towards retailers; I cannot speak as to librarians and educators.  The only, and I want to emphasize only, reason I knew Trade Day continued was an email I received from Wizards of the Coast asking me to appear on a panel along with a pair of other retailers.
Looking over the Trade Day schedule, I can see why.  Of the forty plus events I counted scheduled for the day, less than a quarter of them targeted retailers, with most of those put on by WOTC.  The rest targeted the aforementioned librarians and educators.  Certainly nothing wrong with that, if that is how the organizers want to turn the focus of Trade Day.  Lord knows, I know quite a few retailers that do quite well targeting the educational market and have sold Magic: The Gathering, Great Dalmuti and Fluxx to parents looking for an education game by pointing out that all three made the list of Mensa Select games (1994, 1995 and 1999, respectively, in case you are interested) and would likely find the educational track more beneficial than the retailer targeted track of programming, which, frankly, while useful, consists of presentations that any retailer who has attended the GAMA Trade Show, Origins Trade Day or several distributor open houses, has already heard.  Materials on reaching the educational market however would prove new ground to many retailers.  At least, I plan to attend several of the educational seminars this year, foregoing the retailer track programs.
Tangentially, WizKids is still proving to have scheduling problems with its new release.  On the heels of a delay in the release of the Bioshock gravity feed display that pushed its release back to the same day as that of the Kick Ass 2 and Wolverine and the X-Men gravity feeds  (yes, as I have mentioned before, WizKids managed to release three new sets on the same day).  Then last week, after we had made plans for a Midnight Release of the full set of Wolverine and the X-Men HeroClix, we received notice that WizKids had delayed the release of the set by a full week, forcing us to scramble to reschedule the event, shuffle staffers around and contact customers to let them know that we will maintain regular hours on the night of August 13 and that it is AUGUST 20 that we shall stay open until 2 in the morning, unless we receive notice of another bounce in the release date.  While I realize that Alliance Distribution has the exclusive distribution rights for HeroClix within our market and thus can probably speak officially on topics related to distribution of the brand, one would think that WizKids would have sent out a notice to stores as well.  This delay of product happening twice within a two month period make me extremely leery about scheduling release events around WizKids products and we will only do them in the future if our customer base really asks for one.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of