Gary Ray: Our D&D Strategy Is Different

October 28, 2019 | 1 min to read

Gary is the owner of Black Diamond Games in Concord, California, a WPN Premium location. He's the author of Friendly Local Game Store and the game industry blog Quest for Fun.

Stores that sell Dungeons & Dragons often throw some books on the shelf, spine out, and forget about them. I’ve visited many stores that make this half effort. They're reluctant to spend time on D&D because of the intense competition.

Our strategy is different. We want to be “Top of Mind” with customers, which means when they think Dungeons & Dragons, they think of my store.

I'm going to talk specifically about D&D in this article, but the concept of Top of Mind applies to any product line.

Achieving Top of Mind is not easy or inexpensive, but it pays off.

Achieving Top of Mind means having the entire product line (or at least more than anyone else) and having it displayed in a way that makes shopping for it a special experience. That involves several steps.

The first step is stocking the product. You should have the full line of D&D books. You should always have them, meaning you rarely go out of stock, if at all.

This might mean giving up some inventory performance, but customers must have it in their head that when they walk into your store, the item they’re looking for will be there. So breadth and depth of stock. This also means ignoring performance metrics on slower sellers.

Second, stock every accessory a customer would likely want with their Dungeons & Dragons purchase. For example, we try to always keep in stock pre-painted and unpainted miniatures by WizKids, along with mats, wet erase pens, dice, and other accessories.

Miniature sales also lead to paint sales, and events (which we'll discuss below) increase the sale of snacks and drinks. If you ask a successful game store their sales numbers for D&D, they’ll give you a modest number which becomes much larger when you add in accessories.

Third, D&D events are critical for achieving Top of Mind.

If you play at a store, it doesn’t take a lot of lateral thinking to get you to buy at that store. Our D&D events are all “pay to play,” with a $5 entry fee for $5 of store credit. Some customers buy snacks with their credit, while others save up for many weeks to buy the next D&D book.

Eberron: Rising from the Last War launches November 19, with both standard and alternate covers.

D&D events are so popular, we’ve had to limit them to three nights a week, or risk them taking over the store.

We have enough events to cater to kids who are new to the game as well as veterans. Some games are official D&D Adventurers League events but far more are open to whatever the DM wants to run, as long as it’s open to new players.

Achieving Top of Mind requires stocking wide and deep and ignoring performance metrics on core items. Buy as many gaming accessories as you can afford.

You can’t have enough dice or miniatures, for example. And you need to stock related products to keep customers busy between official releases. And finally, offer them a place to play with a modest fee to generate additional income.

All these together create a feedback loop so when customers think Dungeons & Dragons, they think of your store.

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