GAMA Trade Show
Last week, myself and two of Game On's store managers (Shane in McCook and Dillon in North Platte) took an entire week to fly to Bally's in Las Vegas to attend a trade show for The Game Manufacturer's Association (GAMA). This is not the first time I had the pleasure of attending this first rate show for Game On, but it was the first time my manager's had. It was a great time for us all - let me explain.
Since this trade show is put on by GAMA, many refer to it as the GAMA Trade Show or GTS. For my sake, I will refer to it as GTS for the rest of the article. GTS is for retailer's to get a chance to network with other retailers in our industry (specifically the TABLETOP side of our stores), attend presentations from manufacturers/publishers of games and get a chance to see games before they are released or find new products we may never have heard of. This is an increasingly well run show that provides tons of excellent guidance to help us make GAME ON a much better store! In the past, we've won an Outstanding Marketing award from GAMA and even taught a seminar on the way we do marketing. Other retailer's give seminars on the proper way to demo board games or how they use every last inch of space in their store to maximize the layout - all important subjects that I have taken to heart and implemented strategies in our own locations based on tips and suggestions learned at GAMA. Since our store is part video games, part tabletop games - it's awesome to have an organization that puts on a show like this. It is not something we get on the video game side and I definitely appreciate the hard work of those that are behind the scenes on both the manufacturer's side and the retailer's side that makes this show happen.
This year, our trip started bright and early Monday morning as we left in the morning hours to catch a flight to Vegas. This was exceedingly hard for Shane who was not a fan of flying and I'm afraid to say - he is still not a fan. After our long flight, we took most of Monday to relax and walk about the Las Vegas strip and enjoy the buffett pass. This is a great deal that let's you eat as much as you want for 24 hours in about 6 different buffet's all across the Vegas strip - something that we took full advantage of! After lots of sight-seeing and tons of feasting, we were ready for a long day of awesome seminars that started Tuesday.
Tuesday was jam packed as we attended a lot of retailer led seminars about improving our stores and we found lots in common with the presenters over frustrations and successes in this type of business. As the morning gave way to the afternoon, publishers took over the seminars to load us with information on their product lines and more specifically what was coming soon that we should be paying attention to. I love these type of seminars as they really prepare me for ordering and making sure we have a great mix of product in the stores. Last year (2015), we were so busy we weren't able to attend the show and after attending this year - I really feel like we missed out in 2015, as I'm much more confident in the products and what to bring in for you - our customers this year. I believe it's going to be harder and harder to not attend this show as we continue to grow our company. With the increased amount of amazing new tabletop products being released each year, this show seems to be the one we just can't miss so that we don't pass up on an amazing new product line.
As Tuesday winded down, we got a chance to regroup and talk about all the information we had collected. And then on Wednesday, we started up again with more publisher seminars till the afternoon when my favorite part of the show finally got under way - the exhibit hall. This is my favorite part because I get a chance to look at the products and compare/contrast them myself and I have the opportunity to talk to the publishers directly about anything I have questions on. Most new games have open copies available to test out or demo so that we can really see if the game is something we want to bring into the store. Shane and Dillon got a chance to play a new game called Guild Ball during the exhibit hall and while we had heard about it before - we weren't quite sure if we wanted to put it on our shelves of the store. After about 15 minutes of play, we were hooked - Guild Ball was just as good as some of the other retailer's had said and we had to bring it to our customers back home. This is the type of experience that we go to this show for and it ultimately benefits you greatly as we can pre-approve a product before it hits our shelves. While Guild Ball was our biggest takeaway for a new product line, we also got a chance to see all kinds of upcoming and new products that will be filtering into Game On shelves in the coming months. We are excited to let you in on all of the fantastic things we discovered at GTS and will be revealing more and more as the week's unfold.
IDW Games was showing off a TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) prototype to be released later in the year and even brought in Kevin Eastman (creator of the TMNT) to sign some comics and hang out. Kevin was awesome and we got some signed comics and a picture with him and the designer of the TMNT board game - Kevin Wilson. Both guys were awesome to meet in person and I think we are going to need that TMNT game on the shelves when it releases! Shane had a chance to talk about the future of Force of Will Trading Card Game as our McCook store is really starting to get a large group of players. We all took a moment to smell a line of Adventure Scents for RPG (Role Playing Games) players to use to 'set the mood' during a night of gaming. And this was just the tip of what we encountered during the exhibit hall.
When the exhibit hall closed for the evening, GTS runs a games night where the publishers break out copies of the hottest upcoming games and everybody just plays tabletop games. It's a wonderful time to try something new and Dillon got a chance to put his hands on a new Star Wars game called Rebellion. Going into it, Dillon wasn't sure if the game was worth the $99 price tag, but going out - he was sure that he'd be purchasing a copy for himself. A great opportunity for our Star Wars fans too - if you were like Dillon and on the fence about Star Wars Rebellion - don't be, it's a gorgeous game with lots of great pieces and gameplay elements. It releases later this month, so get your preorder in and if you want more info, Dillon has experience and would love to talk with you about it.
And with all good things, it has to come to an end. Thursday was our last day at GTS though there is some seminars on Friday, we needed to get back to our three stores. So, on Thursday, we did our final bits of business at the reopened exhibit hall by ordering some special products that we hope to reveal next week. We also finalized an order to get Guild Ball products in the stores ASAP. Seriously - you should be playing this game and we'll start demo's VERY SOON. Dillon and myself also attended a Star Realms tournament in the evening ran by the creator of the game. We had a blast and hope to bring that same type of experience to our stores this year. Overall, it was a wonderful week of improving Game On and we were all a bit sad to leave - but very excited to get back home and start showing off the amazing new items to all our great customers.
Shane felt the joy of not having to get back on a plane again after landing in Nebraska and we all got right back to work. If there is one main take away from this past week in Vegas at GTS is that I am overwhelmed with postivity for Game On. We have a tremendous team in place at our stores and I feel like we are just getting started! We just celebrated our 1 year anniversary of bringing comics back into our stores, our 9 year anniversary of opening the store is coming up later this year and we are now 3 store locations strong. Game On has never been in a better place and we owe that to our amazing staff and excellent customers! We greatly appreciate your support and hope to see you in to play some games!