[Musings of a Game Store Owner] The Bubble Part 2

A while ago, I talked about ‘the bubble’ as I see it. to me, the bubble is a sphere of influence, ownership or shared responsibility for an undertaking. It might be a sports team, a girl scout troupe, or a small business. Those INSIDE the bubble know what’s going on, when, why and how- and those outside the bubble know what is told to them by those inside it.

I’ve been on both sides of the bubble. Recently, GW told my store that they were making a big change to its paint line. They wouldn’t tell us what KIND of changes, but I figured “hey, that’s ok; they will tell me what I need to know”. I also assumed that I was closer to the “inside” of the bubble than the “average consumer” since I sell theit product for them.

I got my official email after several large blogs had broken the story. I read about the new paint line and colors online at major hobby blogs before I read it from the company I’m supposed to be partnering with. I discovered that despite a heavy cash investment, I am NOT inside the bubble. I find things out when everyone else does (and sometimes later).

The same happens in a small business. Plans are announced to the customer in general terms, but only those inside the “inner circle”  know when, where, how, what and why in terms of actual details. Those outside the bubble find out when everyone else does- usually at the “big reveal”.

Like this one. 
Fancy new cash register location! 

The former location, in the middle of the store. 

This change took place (for the most part) over an 8 hour period.  We told many of our customers that we were in the middle of a 3 phase process when we put up the slatwall back in January. We continued to communicate that we were not done making our store better, but we didn’t give everyone all the details.

There were a few people inside our bubble that knew exactly what we were doing, when we were doing it, why we were doing it, and HOW we were doing to accomplish the plan.

When we opened today, there were a lot of surprised looks; and a lot of comments- ” I didn’t know you were doing that”. Those comments were followed by very pleasant compliments, but I saw the visible reaction of my customers noticing that they were finding out when everyone else did.

What a lot of people don’t know is that while the time between the two builds was less than 3 full months, it  took well over a year from the FIRST build day to this one to come full circle. I commented on it to our employee, who has been involved in every project since we started taking them on- “it only took us a year to finish”; and we were proud. We were proud that we’d gotten so much done in a year- but we were the only ones that knew about it.

I have to wonder if similar things were afoot at GW in regards to the new paint line. As someone outside the bubble, I can’t help but consider how long this has been in the works and why they made these decisions.

But I learned something from watching my customers react to the changes at our store- that the bubble works in funny ways when you burst it. I have to keep that knowledge in mind as I move forward with any improvements to the store.

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