Recently I went on a road trip with my husband to interview a Magic The Gathering store owner in Orangeville. I was just along for the ride with no real interest in the main reason for the journey, which was to create a blog post about the local store owner and support his business. This article would go on his blog (MTG Realm) as he writes about this game with a focus on spoilers for new card releases. It sounds simple and maybe even un-interesting to those that do not play the game, but he gets up to 14,000 hits a day on this blog, so there are a lot of people following along.
While in Shawn’s store I became very aware of the business skill he possessed. I was expecting a geek that opened a store so he could be close to his favourite game and what I saw as a man providing a service to his clients by meeting them where they are. Here are the top 5 things I believe he has done right and why.
Facebook not website
The clientèle for this business has an average age in their low to mid 20’s with a lot of teens and a few older people. They are primarily male (about 95 % of players are male). Although the store has a website, there is little information on it. The key communications for this game happens on Facebook, where his community of players can take part and be active in the decisions that are being made about their favourite place to hang out.
Young people want to interact not just have information pushed at them.
Games for everyone
In a past blog post I wrote about his business and I talk specifically about how he has created new games to appeal to the youngest of his clients, knowing that as they progress, they will get better and will stay clients longer.
As business owners you need to look at what you have to offer that will keep your current clients coming back. You can sell ‘one offs’ but you want to try and fill your business with clients that are ‘in love’ with your service and return over and over, bringing their friends and spending their time and money.
Invites the community
On the third floor of his business he has a huge room with high ceilings that needed to be painted. He opened up this room and started an non-profit Art Club for young artists to exhibit murals, painting and photography. He hosts regular events and even offers his own walls for the canvas (see image below).
What can you be doing to support the community your clients live in. If you have a location, can you open the doors during off hours for a charity to use. If you don’t have a physical location can you commit time or other resources for local events, not-for-profits, or other community engagements. A business that operates without the connection to its community, whether locally or online, is not as connected to it client.
I laughed at this change, but really… it makes sense for everyone. All the prices in his store include taxes. Not only does it make it easier for his youngest clients to know how much money they need to get a new card to add to their deck, it makes it easier for his employees to help people. He said to me, “Why don’t all businesses do this? It just makes sense.”
Big thinking investments
Originally when he started he was renting a small space on the main street in Orangeville, a city of 25,000, just North of Toronto Ontario. With his focus on his clients his business outgrew the location and he had to move. His answer was to purchase a century old building in a prime location and rent out the street level floor space. He still has two floors of space and he can host up to 200 players for tournaments. This is unheard of outside the large cities. The key is he does not need to fill to capacity to make his money, he simply has the space to offer the opportunity without it being a financial burden on the business. It is one of the reasons he is able to run two events simultaneously to attract both the competitive player and the newbie or casual player.
Are you thinking about your best investments in your business that will give you great resources and give your clients a better experience at the same time? Meet your clients where they are and they will continue to follow you and purchase from you.