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 looks at another kind of in-store event and its pros and cons.

After last week's column on Impresssion's Game Preview Events program, I received an email this week form Dan Yarrington of touting their Preview Nights program, which has one successful event under its belt so far.  Approximately ninety stores participated in the first event, a launch for the Eminent Domain board game and I recognize a number of store names on the list.  Store that sign up for the event receive a demo copy of the game approximately three to four weeks ahead of release and get listed on the Preview Nights website.  Looks as if the Eminent Domain launch also included special promo cards limited to those stores participating and those people who pre-order the game during the event.

Next up is a Preview Night for Eruption from Stratus Games, for which Game Salute is currently taking sign ups.  GameSalute or Stratus Games ('tis rather hard to tell from the website which one is running the event) offers two options for participating.  Option 1, order a case of six copies and receive the Super Advanced Preview Copy shipped with no additional charges.  Option 2, pay $25 to defray the cost of air freight and the game itself and receive the Super Advanced Preview Copy three to four weeks prior to release in both cases.

As I said in last week's column, I really like these initiatives but we are going to pass on this one.  Board games account for a very small portion of our overall sales, less than 7%, so a new board game coming out, unless it comes from one of the companies they recognize, will not excite them much.  Getting a new board game generally doesn't prove much of an event at the store, unless it comes from a company they recognize, such as a release from WizKids, Steve Jackson Games or Fantasy Flight Games.  Even then, a new release such as Munchkin Deluxe, which several customers expressed an interest in before its release, has sat on the shelf, as have Cthulhu Gloom, Farkle Frenzy, Got'em and Quarriors.  Even War of Honor from AEG has done nothing.  The original copy we brought in a couple of months ago still sits on the New Release shelf.

What's the point of this?  The point is that our store is different from everyone else's (and by default, so is everyone else's).  There is no typical game store and events that work in one store to push product may not work in another.  There are a few products that pop up in almost every game store (Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, and Settlers of Catan come to mind) but I have been in stores that don’t carry D&D or Settlers.  A lot of stores (more than ever now) do very well with board games (Board Game Barrister and Saltire Games come to mind) and have customers who would be quite enthused about getting to play Eruption a month before the game hits store shelves.  Other stores (Modern Myths comes to mind) do quite well with indie role playing games and I expect that Impressions' launch of Ashen Stars will appeal to them.  The point is, both the Ashen Stars event and the Eruption event are great ideas, presented differently, making an event in different ways that will appeal to different types of stores, or, if you have developed a broader customer base, the same store.

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