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 comments on the passing of the trade magazine Model Retailer.

I received the following email from Kalmbach Publishing this week regarding Model Retailer magazine:

Since 1975, Model Retailer magazine has been proud to bring you valuable stories and ideas, and during this time we've adjusted to meet your changing needs by delivering the most up-to-date news and advice across a broad range of hobby interests.

We are informing you of the difficult decision to cease publication of Model Retailer magazine.  The August 2017 issue will be the last one.  The Model Retailer website will remain active and updated on a limited basis for the foreseeable future.

As you know, the market has changed over the years.  As a business person in the hobby retail space, you understand, because you're on the front lines of market change every day.  Although Model Retailer ceases publication, Kalmbach Publishing Co. remains committed to the success of the hobby market and will continue to express that commitment through its many brands.  We thank all of our customers and partners for their support over the years, and wish them every success in the future.

For those of you not familiar with Model Retailer, likely not a goodly number since the magazine is shuttering, it is a trade publication.  Trade publications focus on a specific industry or aspect of business, are mailed free to their subscribers, and are supported by advertising, which the publisher sells to companies active in the industry with the promise of getting the company in front of the magazine’s subscriber base.  Incidentally, this is why magazines in general offer deep discounts to you to get you to subscribe.  Your name, as someone interested in that topic to subscribe, becomes a valuable item that the publisher can sell to its advertisers or others with something to offer people with your interests.  But I digress.

Successful Meetings, Beverage World, Direct Marketing and rather surprisingly, Internet Retailer, are all examples of current print trade publications.  ICv2 even has a magazine, Internal Correspondence, that distributes twice a year to retailers in the industry.  With the advent of the Internet and the ease with which information can be disseminated through it, over the past decade a number of trade pubs have either shut down or moved to a web-only format.

I remember flipping through Model Retailer at a friend’s store back in the 80s, and thinking how cool it was to have a magazine focused on the business aspect of the game industry and I remember enthusiastically subscribing when I opened my store.  Model Retailer always had two to three articles on some aspect of business in each issue as well as its "What’s Selling" list of hot products gathered from stores around the country.  One of my memories from the 1990s is attending a Gen Con and having a representative from Stellar Games enthusiastically show me that their RPG, Night Life, had made Model Retailer’s "What’s Selling" list, beating out AD&D in one store, just as hard to do back then as now.

Despite covering games more extensively in recent years, Model Retailer never did attract much advertising from companies in the game industry and I noticed fewer ads from other industries, model railroading, model kits and remote control, as well.  Still I always looked forward to the monthly issue of Model Retailer and moved it to the top of my reading stack when it arrived.

Farewell old friend.  I will miss you.

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