A Great Way to Fill Open House

May 17, 2017 | 3 min to read

Patricia Broatch of Games Collective in Canada wants what many stores want: to grow her community of players.

She plans on using Magic Open House as the perfect landing pad for new players to come out and experience the game. However, she has a common problem. Where will she find those new players?

Her solution: Build interest in games at local schools.

How to Reach Out to Schools

As a first step, Patricia sent out a letter via email to all the schools in her area.

The letter introduced herself and explained her store's mission.

One of our goals is to get young adults unplugged and back to playing games that will give them valuable social skills and learn about boundaries and fair play. We pride ourselves on creating a safe place for young adults to play games and join in tournaments for games like Magic: The Gathering.

Then she capped the letter with an enticing offer that would be hard for schools to turn down.

We would love the opportunity to come to your school and demonstrate Magic: The Gathering and other games that we believe will capture your students' attention and draw them into a world of imagination and fun, without being on a computer.

Who to Contact?

According to Erin Neubert, director of an elementary school in Chicago, principals have the most information about staff sponsorship and facility availability and can often be your best bet. However, when reaching out to schools, make sure you're going through the proper channels. Depending on the school, this may not be the principal. Contact information can usually be found on the school website.

Consider, in particular, schools that already have organized extracurricular programs or gaming clubs. (This is how Bobby Whitcomb of Excelsior Comics and Games started his "Monday Magic class" at Fowler School.)

When crafting your letter, begin by introducing yourself and Magic then end with an invitation to the school to follow up if they're interested in learning more about the game. You can use this template, found on our marketing materials page as a starting point.)

The Results

Patricia successfully secured an invitation to visit a nearby school and sent three staff members with a case of Magic Welcome Decks to teach the game.

The experience was a huge hit with the students as well as the teachers.

We had lots of students come into the store a few days after [the visit].

One teacher was so impressed by the students' interaction with the game that they asked about bringing the gaming day to a neighboring school—and running it multiple times throughout the year.

Patricia's Tips

  1. Show, Don't (Just) Tell. Offer to come in and demonstrate the game to administrators, teachers, and principals.
  2. Open Your Door. Invite them to the store to get a firsthand look at the game and how it works.
  3. Focus on the Benefits. Above all else, show the school that games such as Magic can provide valuable educational benefits and can improve social skills.

Thanks to Patricia's efforts working with schools, she has generated a slew of new players who are excited to bring their friends and family to Magic Open House to learn the game together and join her store's Magic community.

Libraries and Daycamps Too

Even if school's out in your area, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with students:

  • Contact public libraries, particularly those with active teen services programs.
  • Reach out to summer daycamp administrators. Daycamps designed around STEM—Science, Technology, Math, Engineering—curriculum may be particularly receptive.
  • Or start conversations with schools now to lay the groundwork to launch a plan in September.

Connect with students and lead them to your Magic Open House to learn the game and to Magic League for ongoing casual play opportunities.

Store Stats: Games Collective

  • Location: Leduc, Alberta (30,000)
  • WPN Level: Core
  • Age: 5 months
  • Size: 1,800 sq. ft.
  • Website: www.gamescollective.ca/

By Jordan Comar

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