[Musings of a Game Store Owner] Breakups
We have cut ties with vendors in the past. The reasons varied, but almost all of those reasons have come down to money. (Yeah, despite our “nice guy” reputation, we have some mercenary tendencies.)
As a rule, we don’t hack and slash a company lightly. It usually takes a progression of changes on our end along with choices that hit our pocketbook pretty heavily.
The first company we have separated from was a small indie distributor. This company was a great resource for us when we were a TINY, TINY game store; with just a couple hundred dollars available every two to three weeks for orders. Their order minimum for free shipping was low, and they carried a lot of the weird, hard to find, off-the-wall stuff our burgeoning customer base wanted.
We used them off and on for quite a while. We were happy with their service, and they even offered a limited selection of the more “mainstream” stuff that went on our shelves. Then, a crazy thing happened.
Our business grew.
With our business growing, the demand for product changed, and the budget we set aside for orders increased. It started to make sense for us to use a larger scale distributor more often, in order to get access to a wider variety of products along with a MUCH larger discount.
We didn’t make the switch over to the larger distributor overnight. It was a gradual change, with the larger company actively working to partner with us in ways to help us continue our growth. They asked good questions and offered excellent specials in order to collaborate with us in ways that made our dollars work smarter, not harder.
The smaller company went through an ownership or management change around this time, and the relationships we had with them dissolved along with the staff. We certainly know how to call a vendor up, and did so; but the staff had no idea who we were or what we were doing with out business. That combined with better service and larger discounts on a greater selection made the choice much less difficult than others we’ve made.
Business decisions are usually driven by what makes money, but sometimes those choices are tougher than they should be because of personal involvement. TheDude and I have made plenty of choices (or delayed them) because we were too personally close to the situation, and had too much emotional attachment to the subject, product or situation. We know firsthand those emotionally driven choices don’t benefit our customers, and we are trying to avoid them as much as possible.
It takes deliberate decision-making and active attention to an issue to be able to make clear choices about vendors to keep, products to promote, products to carry, tournaments to run, what games to put on our calendar for in-store play and much more. Sometimes, as people with personal favorites, we lose sight of that necessity; but we’re working hard to pay attention and use other people’s cues to help us along the way. We just received a letter from a loyal and dedicated customer this week asking us to consider how we promoted a certain product, and we’re taking it to heart-because the last thing we want is a breakup with a customer.