Rob Placer of Family Fun Hobbies in Hamilton, New Jersey comments on Scott's Thorne's recent column talking about the danger of game store closings and their reliance on Magic: The Gathering sales (see "Rolling for Initiative--Three Predictions for 2017").

I certainly agree with Scott Thorne's assessment of at least 40-60 hobby game stores having closed last year, if not even more, with probably an increasing number due to close in 2017.  While it would be interesting to gather data from the industry's various wholesalers as to exactly how many accounts closed, I do not believe they ever would (or perhaps legally could) share that information.  There have also been quite a number of "TCG Shops" opening on a regular basis, many of which are seriously underfunded, undermanned, and with a lack of any real business acumen among the ownership, management and staff.  So another data point to gather would be how many new accounts opened last year, and find out if the industry had a net gain or net loss in accounts.

Based on my own business, as well as those of other local stores I talk to, I believe the "overall" sales of Magic: The Gathering have been on a steady increase over the last several years.  I think the reason many store owners are experiencing what they perceive to be a dip in overall Magic sales is because there actually is an increase in the number of stores.  This may not be nationwide, but perhaps in certain areas of the country.  If the population, and therefore disposable income total, does not increase dramatically, there are fewer customers to go around between each store, and therefore sales of Magic from store to store seems less.

To maximize Magic: The Gathering sales, Organized Play (whether casual or tournament) is a big key.  Stores that provide clean game space, friendly atmosphere, knowledgeable staff, and fair prize support (while still charging enough to make a healthy profit) should fare better than those that lack in one or more of those categories.  Catering to the casual gamer by running Friday Night Magic Booster Drafts and Pre-Release Events has been successful for us, but other stores also do a great job hosting Grand Prix Trials, PPTQ's and PTQ's.  Finally, we try not to worry about what our competition is doing.  We always ask ourselves a few key questions:

1.)    Are we happy with our sales volume?
2.)    Are we happy with the growth of our sales volume?
3.)    Are we happy with our profitability?

If the answer to those questions is "Yes," then what the competition is doing currently has no bearing on our business.

I see a healthy and happy future for the game of Magic, and look forward to selling it for years to come.

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