A year ago, as we were beginning our thirteenth year in business, a customer asked me if I wasn’t triskaidekaphobic, that is, afraid of the number 13. I replied no, I was looking forward to the upcoming year. After all, we had a contract on a building in downtown Summerville which would provide us with a better location, room for all of our books and after some repairs and renovations a dedicated game room. The future looked bright for Here Be Books & Games as we started our thirteenth year. Little did I know how quickly that would change.
A few weeks later, two days before escrow was supposed to close on our new place, the appraisal came in: $30,000 less than the asking price. The seller refused to lower the price, the bank wouldn’t lend more than 85% of the appraised value and we already knew the building required at least $30,000 in repairs and renovations to get it ready for business. It was a no go.
We couldn’t stay where we were: the new landlord wanted quadruple the rent. Plus, we’d have to be closed October thru January – the most crucial time for retail – while they renovated the building. (They didn’t actually finish until May.) So, we continued to look for something else to no avail. Finally, with nowhere to go, we decided to close our brick and mortar store at the end of September 2017, but continue selling games and some books on the Internet through our online store.
We had great support from our customers who turned out in droves for our book and game sales and board game auction. We sold books for half price, then $1, then by the bag and box. In the end we had about 10,000 left. Not bad when we started with over 30,000.
Packing up after twelve years at the same location was hard. A few really wonderful people pitched in to help and keep our spirits up. It was the end of our bookstore and there was no turning back. The game store could go on because we could order more games from our distributors. There was no place to order used books in bulk, however, and with our core stock gone, the bookstore could not recover.
Hoping to continue Game Night and provide a place where customers could pick up merchandise ordered on our online store, we continued to look for someplace, any place, where we could conduct commercial business. Then two weeks after closing, we found a new home for Here Be Books & Games in a business condo in the Travelers Executive Center.
It’s not ideal: it’s off the beaten path rather than in a shopping center and it’s upstairs which is hard on my knees. However, it does have three game rooms where we always have tables set up for ad hoc gaming. Our entire demo game library is accessible and on display in these three game rooms. We’ve even named them.
The Dragon Room hosts our thematic games, the Gate Room has our family, casual and gateway games on display and the Observatory does double duty as my office and the repository for our Euro strategy games. The area that would be Reception, if we used the business condo as offices, is our main selling area. It is augmented by a windowless office which we’ve dubbed the Treasure Room. The kitchenette makes it easy for us to stock and supply hot and cold drinks as well as snacks. So, when it comes to gaming, our new place is definitely a step up.
While we miss the bookstore, not having to process trades all of the time leaves us free to teach more games. The dedicated game rooms allow us to host in-store gaming and events whenever we’re open. At our old place, we only had one small card table where we could teach games and we could only host gaming and events after hours. When tables were set up there was no room for people to walk about and shop the store. At our new place, the gaming takes place in the side rooms and the shopping areas are always accessible.
Our thirteenth year has been a hard one, that’s for certain. The loss of the bookstore was devastating, but being able to continue the game store and hopefully make it grow and flourish is exciting. We love helping our customers discover new games.
Attendance at Game Night – still the first Saturday of every month – is recovering as more customers old and new find us at our new location. Our Wednesday game days are filling up, too, as are our Saturday events.
Now that we’re at the end of this difficult thirteenth year, if you were to ask me if I am triskaidekaphobic, I would still say no. I’m glad that it’s behind us, though. While many people consider the number 13 bad luck, I consider it a number that represents power and the opportunity for change. In Tarot, the 13th trump is Death, a card that harbingers change and transformation, not true death.
For Here Be Books & Games, our thirteenth year certainly brought us great change. But hopefully it’s all for the good as we get to spend more time teaching and playing games, making recommendations, and otherwise interacting with our customers to help them discover new ways to have fun with their friends and family, maybe even make some new friends.
Here’s to 13 years in business. May our fourteenth be a lot easier, yet filled with lots of fun and growth.