Before we dive into this week’s topic, here’s a quick reminder about the contest we’re running: Comment on last week’s post for a chance to win both new Port-a-Party games: Joe Name It and Who Would Win. All the details are in last week’s post (linked above). The deadline to enter is midnight (EST) on Monday, May 23rd. I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, May 24th.
This is the first of a new blog feature we’re calling Store Spotlight.
I recently spoke with David Leschinsky, owner of Eureka! Puzzles in Brookline, Massachusetts. Eureka is an incredible store and a great customer of ours. They carry a wonderful selection of Ceaco puzzles and Gamewright games. Eureka opened its doors in 2004, and currently carries 5,000+ products that range from puzzles to games to science kits to books to yo-yos…and much, much more. David can tell you best about his store, so here’s what he recently had to say about owning a specialty store in a busy Brookline shopping area:
Why did you decide to open Eureka? I love puzzles and games, and I thought there was a definite need for a store with this kind of focus in the area. It’s not a toy store, not a game store and not a puzzle store: it’s a store about thinking and having fun, and as such, it has elements of all of those items. So, we have puzzles, we have games and we have mindbenders. Recently (April 2011) we expanded into science by offering science kits. In doing so, we got rid of a lot of games that were focused specifically to ages 5-8 and we kept games that are good for a variety of ages. We kept all of our Gamewright products, because they are fabulous, fabulous products for all ages.
What are the challenges of owning a specialty shop? Cash flow. Not so much competition, as much as an expectation that items that we sell are commonly available for less money at other places. That’s a perennial challenge. However, once a customer comes into our store they generally come back. They come back for a couple of main reasons. Number one is the level of service we provide. People come in and we’ll help guide them directly to the products they’re interested in. We have knowledgeable sales people and we have a strong philosophy not to sell bad business. We never sell something simply because it might be a staff member’s favorite or because we have a lot of stock. We try to match peoples’ needs with the merchandise, and because of that we constantly get people coming back in.
Here’s a fun story: We offer complimentary wrapping with a very recognizable Eureka gift wrap. I had one customer that came in and said they bought something at our store and brought it to a friend’s house as a present. That recipient got excited before they even opened it because they knew [from the wrapping] what store it came from!
The second reason we see success is because we spend a lot of time building community. We do this by offering Game Nights. We give people the opportunity to play new games and to see what works for them and what doesn’t. They also get a chance to meet with other people who have similar interests. When people are introduced to new items they enjoy, they will think about us when giving a gift.
What’s the most rewarding part of owning a specialty shop? It’s definitely a sense of real appreciation for your existence in the community. I have all types people who come into the store; families with kids, gamers, people who love jigsaw and mechanical puzzles, people who work with those with learning disabilities or who’ve had a stroke. They all have one thing in common: that they are all coming in looking for ways to stimulate mental functionality. People thank me for being in the community. One thing I say to my staff is that it’s nice having a place where people leave with a smile.
What’s your best selling Ceaco and Gamewright products? Do you have any personal favorites or staff favorites? Yes and yes. Here’s a good story: When I was first opening up the store, one of my daughters was 10 at the time. As we were unpacking boxes and stocking shelves, she looked around and said, “I don’t see SET around.” I told her it hadn’t come in yet, and she was disappointed. As we continued putting up shelving and card games, she said, “Daddy, I don’t see Rat-a-Tat Cat here either.” I told her that also hadn’t come in yet. She was again very disappointed. She then said, “Well, you can’t open the store!” To her, we weren’t a game store unless we had those two items.
One of my personal favorites is also Rat-a-Tat Cat, another is Sleeping Queens and third is Loot. A surprise hit recently is Sounds Like a Plan. We played it at a Game Night last summer and every single person at the table loved it so much that they came back and bought it. I should say one thing about our Game Nights; we have no sales pressure and no merchandise is present. We usually hold them in a neutral area like a school or library, and then we offer refreshments back at the store after.
For staff picks, Forbidden Island is a favorite and a phenomenal game; so is Rory’s Story Cubes. We’ve had it on our counter and play it with customers when they come up to make their purchase, and they will usually add it to their purchase as soon as we show them how it’s played.
Gamewright has a good reputation….people come in and ask for your games and if we carry other games from your company.
This wraps up my interview with David. Eureka also offers Game Camps for kids during school vacations and summer months. The next one is an End of Summer Camp from 8/29 – 9/2. If you’re in the Boston area you should call Eureka to reserve a spot.
To our retailers: If you carry Gamewright games and/or Ceaco puzzles, and would like to be featured on our blog, contact me at pr [at] gamewright [dot] com.