Don Allen of Comic Quest in Lake Forest, California talks about why he thinks it's worth attending the GAMA Trade Show.

It is too bad that Marcus King has decided not to attend the GAMA trade show this year (see "View from the Game Store").  Part of why I go each year is to meet smart and successful retailers like him.  But it does make me think about why I go each year.  The cost is not very much, but the time away from my responsibilities is harder to come by.  Is it worth it?  I still think so, and here is why.

Pulse of the retailers.  It has some value to see how the retailers are reacting to the current gaming environment.  To find out what seminars are getting extra attendance, and which booths are crowded.  And more importantly what retailers are griping about while standing in line, or sitting at dinner.

It is good to get a sense of the marketplace.  What problems are unique to your store, and what are commonplace issues that are systemic?  It can change your approach to the issue.

Pulse of manufacturers.  It is always interesting to see where the dollars are flowing, and what bets are being placed.  Is there more miniatures this year?  Is there more supply manufacturers?  What happened to the dice games from last year?  What items are distributors placing at eye level to attract retailers?  It can be helpful to see where the money is flowing and sometimes to see where the money has stopped flowing.

Chance to rethink your store.  We all get caught up in running our stores that often we forget to rethink what we do.  While you could take several days away from your stores and think about your event schedule, your staffing plans, your merchandise display, your inventory positions, etc.  I could take several days and think about those things, but the immediacy of everyday tasks often get in the way.  I’m not going to do it unless I schedule time to do it.

So GTS provides the excuse to think about those things.  In most cases I will probably end up doing the same thing we are already doing, but spending time to think about new ways, and new options does provide great value.

Contacts and face to face.  Talking with manufacturers can provide long term dividends.  Yes, most of the time I’ve read about their upcoming game on "news/fan" sites.  And seeing the prototypes of the miniatures for a while.  But having a chance to talk to manufacturers creates deeper understanding.  Understanding on what they hope to accomplish, and who they think their customers are.  Some people are more open to feedback about their products, and some aren’t.  But having that contact provides great context about the products, and sometimes those relationships can help sell more product, and make better decisions.

New products.  While sometimes the show might seem to have the same manufacturers in the same spot, and it seems like déjà vu.  But every show still has new people with new dreams.  Usually they are put in the back corner.  But sometimes you find a product that you didn’t see from any distributor (yet), or you see a product that you passed on before.  We often have to order based on short solicitations, with no pictures, and little information.  So seeing a product can often change my mind.  Sometimes it can be better than I thought and should be ordered.

New ideas.  Even in seminars that I’ve sat through several times, I still learn something new.  The retailers who attend the seminars contribute so much.  Someone will share a new experience, or new problem, or new solution that can add great value.  I have not yet left GAMA without several things I want to try.  Sometimes the ideas have to be reworked for my market, and sometimes they get scrapped, but sharing solutions and ideas is probably the best thing about GTS.

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