Thursday, February 10, 2005

No more gaming - at Napoleon's

We recently stopped hosting in-store gaming here at Neptune Comics. We continue to diversify our product lines, while growing our selections of the staples: comics and graphic novels, manga, toys and games. Our once unused space held gaming tables many nights, but now the space is being taken up by fixtures, and more are on the way. So, we had to end our in store gaming. It was hard to do, as we've gotten to know many of the gamers, and we felt bad about not letting them come in anymore. But in order to stay open we have to have items to buy out on the floor.

There has been lots of talk about the downfall of gaming recently. Video games have become widely popular, and people just don't seem to get together and play games as often as they did in days past. Many game stores in less populated areas of Wisconsin have had to close their doors, and many other game stores have picked up other product lines to help bring more money in. And many comic book shops across the nation that used to host in-store gaming have stopped doing so.

And now there's one more store closing its doors to gamers. Napoleon's on the east side of Milwaukee. For details, check out the article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: This wasn't just a case of a man wanting to retire, but he was also feeling the pinch of the economic downturn occurring in gaming.

I don't only blame video games for this downturn. Online "stores" have taken much of the business and/or profit away from brick and mortar stores. They often sell product at or below what most "real" game stores get the product for. Some because they buy in volume and sell in volume, some because they are big game fans so they buy a case to get their own stuff cheap and then are ready to virtually "give away" the extra stuff they don't need. Some because they want to take the business from another store and figure if they can get those customers too, by having lower prices, they'll make up the loss in profit with an increase in clients. It's BAD business! If store A sells a case of ABC miniatures at a 25% discount off of suggested retail, store B steps in and says they have the lowest prices and offers 35% off, then store A strikes back and offers 40% off, soon they've cut to the core and are making maybe 2-5% profit. Then store C comes in and buys in huge bulk, getting an even better discount from the maker of game ABC, so he then gets all the customers by offering 45% off. Now store A & B have to go out of business because they didn't make much money with their 2-5% profit margin, and they can't go any lower to make money at all. No one can beat store C. The shopper always wants to save money, and doesn't think about the consequences to anything other than their bank account. And soon the stores that let them come in and play ABC miniatures, which they recently bought at a huge savings from stores A, B, and C, rather than at the store where they play, has to close down. Gaming stores are not community outreach programs, they are stores first and foremost. They need to be supported by those who come and use the open space to play. Once the players forget to repay the store that hosts them and turn to online stores with big discounts, they loose the place to play.

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