Daily Illuminator

November 9, 2014: Eclectic Games Wins Prestigious Award!

Eclectic Games

Our friends over at Eclectic Games in the UK took home some awards from the Reading Retail Awards. I'll let them tell you all about it in their words.

From the Press Release

Independent specialist boardgame retailer Eclectic Games received the prestigious title of 'Retailer of the year 2014' at the Reading Retail Awards ceremony on Saturday 13th September. The annual awards aim to 'Reward Outstanding Retailing in the borough of Reading' and include both customer and business nominated categories. The coveted 'Retailer of the Year' category cannot be directly entered - the winner is selected by the independent judges from within the categories announced at the awards ceremony.

Eclectic Games was nominated in three categories this year, and was shortlisted for the second year running for the customer-nominated 'Shop I can't live without' category and also for the 'Independent Retailer of the Year'. Bobby Lonergan, Business Improvement District Manager for Reading UK CIC, and member of the judging panel said "The sheer quality of the customer testimonials in the nominations we received for Eclectic Games in the 'Shop I can't live without' category were a deciding factor in our choice to award them Retailer of the Year 2014"

The Eclectic Games team of owners Becky and Darrell Ottery, assistant manager Nahum Evans, and all their staff join the select company of previous winners, including the Reading branches of national institutions John Lewis and Marks and Spencer and beloved long-term town fixtures such as The Smelly Alley Fish Company.

Darrell and Becky had this to say about their award - "We're amazed and delighted at the recognition this represents, that an independent and external body can see the same thing in our business that our customers do. To be seen to be on the same level as respected, national retailers like John Lewis is fantastic for a small, family business. It confirms what we've known from the beginning; that passion for excellence in the products you sell, the service you offer your customers and the support you offer your staff is universal across all great retailers, irrespective of company size."

How They Feel About It

This type of award goes a long way towards countering a number of enduring myths about the hobby games industry, bricks and mortar retail of games, independent retail in the world of mega chains, and the viability of a business model that sells at full MSRP. Eclectic Games sell board games, card games, collectable card games, RPGs, jigsaws, minature accessories (paint, flock, greenstuff, tools), puzzles and chess sets. We don't sell single cards for CCGs. We sell all of these at full MSRP with one or two minor exceptions. We run evening events supporting boardgames on Monday and Friday; Netrunner and other Living Card Games on Tuesdays; our sanctioned Magic tournaments on Wednesdays; and a rotation of other CCG tournaments on Thursdays. We have a full calendar of weekend events each month across all the Organised Play programs we support, plus boardgame days and designers demoing new games.

We are a town centre retail store, with separate shop floor and 50 person games space, a demo games library of 1500 titles, and staff who can intelligently recommend games to you. We are focused on boardgames, not Magic, Yu Gi Oh, Miniatures, comics or toys. Last year, 40% of our turnover came from boardgames, 29% from all of the CCGs we sell, 12% from event entry fees. Our customer demographic covers all ages, is about 60/40 male/female, our staff is 50/50 male/female. We employ four members of staff plus the owners, all drawing a wage. We are clean, well lit, and have sufficient bathroom space. 90% of our turnover is in store, with only 10% going through our website. We've been in business for eight and a half years, and have been through two shop moves in that time.

Our customer base is loyal, intelligent, driven by value rather than price, diverse, inclusive, dedicated, informed, vocal, curious, passionate, stubborn and pedantic. To justify our policy of selling at full MSRP (a gross margin of about 38-42% in the UK) we must add sufficient value to the transaction to outweigh the cheaper prices available from other retailers, typically those who operate only online, and thus tend to have lower overheads to take out of the same gross margin, and/or expect to make up in sales volume what they lose in gross margin. We do this by holding a broad stock of games, and having detailed, indepth knowledge of that stock to make suitable recommendations. We back that up with the ability to try games out before risking spending money on them by holding a huge library (which is where the marketing budget mostly goes) and offering the evening and weekend events where potential customers can meet others, hear their opinions, and try out games without any obligation. We offer a small discount to the members of local gaming societies we work with (the university gaming society, one or two sports and social clubs at the larger local employers), and a loyalty card scheme open to all that amounts to a 5% discount over time. Our value-add is the imediate availability of the game, the vast and detailed product knowledge of our staff, and the ability to eliminate buying an unsuitable game by trying it out first. As an additional benefit, there is the fantastic community centred on eclectic games, and the chance to meet other gamers who are always looking for more people to share their passion with.

-- Brian Engard


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