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Retailers crowd ‘quality’ Games Day

Attendance is up at ACD event; big draws include dozens of seminars
Published: June 27, 2016
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ACD Distribution held its annual Games Day trade show in Madison, Wis., on May 25-27. The show gave nearly 400 attendees from 200 stores a chance to talk directly to game publishers, see new games and learn from what’s working for other retailers.

This year’s exhibit hall was larger than last year’s, with more than 150 exhibitors from 75 companies including As-modee, Hasbro, Paizo, Privateer Press, Wizards of the Coast and dice stalwart Chessex.

ACD offered 48 seminar tracks over two days, many of which featured successful retailers talking everything from interviewing and hiring to inventory management, product diversity and marketing. Heavily attended, these retailer-to-retailer sessions have become a main attraction for Games Day, pulling in retail store owners and buyers from across the country with their reputation for advice without kid gloves.

Lynn Potyen, owner of The Game Board in Sheboygan, Wis., and member of the Game Manufacturers Association Retail Division, attends a lot of shows during the course of the year, but ACD Games Day is a highlight. In her opinion, ACD has upped its game over the last decade, and by doing so has led other distributors to improve their retailer support, too.

“The quality of what you get when you go to ACD Games Day is a huge draw,” Potyen says. “This isn’t my hobby,” she says of her store. “It’s my business. I expect to be treated like a professional, not like a hobbyist when I go to a distributor show.”

In one of the show’s most popular seminars, Paul Butler, director of retail operations for Games and Stuff in Baltimore, explored why some games succeed in stores while others gather dust on the shelves. His message: “Take responsibility for sales failures in your store.” Once stores stop the blame game, they can get down to the business of making sure inventory moves. This requires regularly changing merchandising to break up the store and force customers to stop to see what’s different, effectively using the compression zone just inside the store’s entrance, and hammering social media to generate excitement for “the new hotness.”

Butler also made a tremendous point that store employees need to share enthusiasm, but not negativity. “You may not like a game, but don’t dis it in front of your customers,” he says. “It’s easy to fall into a pattern. Your staff hears. Customers hear. Other customers hear. And then the games don’t sell.”

As always, ACD president Bob Maher took questions from the assembled retailers. Most questions focused on ACD’s website for retailer sales. A retooled portal has been in the works for some time, but it has been plagued with minor setbacks that have delayed implementation.
 
Maher promised that the new site was on its way and that he didn’t want to unveil a system that wasn’t ready to go and could cause more problems than the current site. However, he refrained from giving a definite timeline for completion.

—Tim Kidwell, contributing editor