Home Forums General Conventions and Shows Musings of Convention Trade Stands

Viewing 30 posts - 1 through 30 (of 30 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #26530
    Avatar photoStewart Johnson
    Participant

    Having mentioned this on WD3, thought I’d mention it here also.

    I went to Phalanx at the weekend and had a great time but….

    Are the trade stands all getting a bit ‘samey’?

    There were seemingly a half dozen places selling Warlord Games products – including Warlord themselves, another four or so doing 4Ground….

    Now is this not a wasted opportunity? OK, I’m lucky but here in Bangor I’ve got three shops selling Warlord within an hours drive. What I want from a show is the ability to see figures in the flesh before buying – not endless stands selling identikit product.
    Not sure what can be done, and I can understand organising these affairs is difficult and money has to be raised, but surely if this trend continues it’ll affect the viability of the shows?

     

    #26532
    Avatar photowillz
    Participant

    I see where you are coming from Stewart, like you I have noticed certain war-gaming items seem to be repeated several times at certain shows.  I go to war-game shows to see new products or be tempted with something new that I have not seen before.

    Like you no amount of eye candy of war-gaming stuff on tinternet / magazines can replace the actual touch and feel of an item, I want to hold and feel the product before I purchase.  Speaking for myself maybe its a person over fifty thing.

    #26534
    Avatar photoStewart Johnson
    Participant

    Not a person over fifty thing 🙂

    #26542
    Avatar photoAngel Barracks
    Moderator

    I think it is the difference between re-sellers who sell whatever they can make a profit from, and manufacturers who only sell what they make.
    Re-sellers generally have less discount to play with, and as you note a less captive market, so the more variety they have the more likely they are to attract punters.

    Clive at the Plymouth show will turn people away if they are already selling something another trader is, he wants to offer a lot of choice.

    #26556
    Avatar photoIan Marsh
    Participant

    In the last few years of Fighting 15s’ participation in the trade show circuit, I just got more and more depressed about the preponderance of stands selling the same boxed shiny products, and watching attendees just go to the stand that was offering the best deal. I have nothing against those retailers that attend shows with such product; I’m more disheartened by the fact that wargamers increasingly seem unable to think outside the shiny packaged box. It’s good news for those companies that package products commercially for retail, but for the small independent figures supplier that doesn’t, it’s tough to compete for the impulse purchase – it says something that at Salute this year, the one item that sold best on my stand was an attractively illustrated and packaged product (playing cards), and packaged paint products (triads) also contributed well. They were, obviously, easier to sell from my point of view, being neat packages handed over for reasonable sums of cash.

    I’ve said it before here, but it’s a sad fact that wargames shows are not economic propositions for small figures companies, beyond the first few years of attending shows to get exposure. So many of us are just not attending shows, or have cut back, because it makes more economic sense to stay back at base. It would, for example, have been cheaper for me to post out every single advance order for Salute free of charge than to pay to attend Salute as a trader. The result is that we are indeed denying those customers who like to see products in real life the opportunity to do so. But such customers are clearly in the minority, at least in terms of my sales figures, because online purchases are growing. My least show-intensive year is proving to be my best trading year.

    Ultimately, shiny packaged boxes and boutique games may be all that’s on offer at shows, not because organisers try their best to arrange a balanced mix of stands, but because small traders will not attend because of poor economics and thereby deny the show the variety that is sought.

    Ian
    Fighting 15s
    www.fighting15s.com

    #26558
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I haven’t been to a show for years. I won’t list the many reasons for my non-attendance lest I be accused of moaning (“what Connard Sage moan? Never” I hear you cry), but I will say that the internets are a boon.

     

     

     

     

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #26562
    Avatar photoAngel Barracks
    Moderator

    Since I made the move away from stocking historicals and into sci-fi, and then into sci-fi of my own making I saw a drop in takings at shows.

    The majority of my takings came from the selling of non-scale / period specific goods, such as dice and paints.

    After phasing out both dice and paints the takings have been such, that as a small scale operation (see what I did there) it is simply not worth me attending shows unless they are very local and very cheap.

    That is also one of the driving factors behind Blast-Tastic! the sci-fi themed show organised by myself.
    If you sell sci-fi at a sci-fi show, the chances all the customers will be very interested in your sci-fi wares is good.

    I would not be surprised if you see small one man operations that sell specialist niche lines at themed shows only in the future.

    #26568
    Avatar photoNorm S
    Participant

    I think a game show the size of Phalanx can absorb that sort of things as there remains plenty of capacity to ensure a full diversity of wargame materials.

    As long as the likes of Kallistra are there for hexes and 12mm, Pendraken for 10mm, Baccus for 6mm, Tumbling Dice for 1/600 and smaller, Dave Lanchester or Caliver for books, The Baggage Train for resin terrain, S&A Scenics for terrain, Lancaster Games or Donnington for 15mm, the chap who sells boardgames etc etc etc are present, then diversity and range are preserved.

    But the smaller the show, the greater the concern of product diversity will be.

    I would agree that 28mm was represented by a large part of the hall, whether that be metals, plastic or accessory support such as terrain and the base was much wider than just Warlord products. So perhaps we are just seeing the market force thing responding to a more modern trend of returning to the bigger figure and perhaps a lot of skirmish type gaming on smaller tables (and perhaps a hobby base that has increasing older eyes 🙂 ) to keep costs and painting times down.

    I didn’t really see much 15mm represented (Lancaster games excepted) or 1/72 (Grubby Tank excepted). 6mm is hugely popular, yet considering Baccus was the only 6mm trader there, his stall did not have the bustle that I would have expected, but then he probably had as much trade as everyone else, but as you say, they are all selling a common scale so the question of how busy they are on an individual basis is not as obvious. It is common to walk around and see some traders glazed over with boredom, so I suppose it depends what’s on your own personal radar as to what you actually see and don’t see.

    At the other end of the scale spectrum, Last Valley who does very good 28mm terrain,  looked quiet, where-as I would have expected him to have been cleared out quite quickly – so who can tell.

    I suppose if you added up all the 3mm – 20mm traders, they would balance against the 28mm traders, but that is still a lot of trade focussed at the single scale of 28mm.

    Perhaps the truth is that for show survival you also need a strong ethos of a spending public. Against a backdrop of tighter purse strings, who can blame traders for defaulting to products that are popular and will shift. Footfall is meaningless if it is not spending and maybe we are sliding towards some sort of mono-culture, with the niche surviving simply because they are niche. But equally true, perhaps everything has its day, Flames of War used be everywhere and now less so.

    #26571
    Avatar photoStewart Johnson
    Participant

    Yes, I’ve noticed the 28mm domination as well – possibly because I game in 10, 15 and 20mm…

    I don’t go to many shows – mainly because living in North Wales means one tends to be isolated, and even Phalanx is a 90 min drive away so really only have this and Warfare to talk about.

    I understand the fact that economics might have a part to play – although why re-sellers make a profit and figure manufacturers don’t is a bit of a mystery to me I’ll admit.

    I will admit that packaged stuff sells better. I’m getting back into 15mm Napoleonics and Magister were there with boxes of ready packaged brigades… BOOM! Instant sale. Given all is required is a box and a label, not difficult to do.

    And yes, Ian, I’ve been looking at the AB stuff as well…. Had you been there I might have picked up a few bits, but I don’t spend a lot so I understand why you don’t attend.

    I’d say that to support the hobby and increase your business longevity you need to be seen – shows like Phalanx attract younger people, and I’m always telling the fledgling gamers from my local area to check it out. They don’t buy wargames magazines and so only know of the companies they see in our local stores.. this for them to find you, you need word of mouth from someone like me.

    But then again, I’m not the one whose mortgage relies on the bottom line in this instance. 🙂

    #26573
    Avatar photoNorm S
    Participant

    I would agree with the packaged comment. At Phalanx I made an impulse buy of 10mm Alien and Marine armies from Pendraken, simply because they were packed into army packs and I could readily see how much the project was going to cost me and I would get a properly rounded organisation. (I was only intending on buying ACW figures from Kallistra and collecting a small pre-order from Pendraken, so the show / marketing thing for traders was working in the regard of getting extra spend out of me).

    There is also some invisible income coming in from shows. I saw products from two traders that I will likely buy in the next six – eight weeks on a mail order basis.

    I do hold the view that in general, traders are under-appreciated by the attending public (I am not and have never been a trader, it is just an observation).

     

    #26574
    Avatar photoAngel Barracks
    Moderator

    But then again, I’m not the one whose mortgage relies on the bottom line in this instance.

    Amen!

    #26608
    Avatar photoCerdic
    Participant

    Interesting discussion!

    I made a comment after Salute this year that there seemed to be endless traders selling big shiny boxes containing….well, who knows? The contents are inside a sealed box!

    This doesn’t really float my boat. Apart from the fact that most of this boxed stuff appears to be fantasy/Sci-Fi and my interest is historicals, I find that pre-packed armies or units or whatever, never match the mix and numbers of figures that I want!

    I agree with Norm Smith about the invisible sales. I often see stuff at shows that I like the look of, then go home and work out what I need and order online.

    #26611
    Avatar photoIan Marsh
    Participant

    And yes, Ian, I’ve been looking at the AB stuff as well…. Had you been there I might have picked up a few bits, but I don’t spend a lot so I understand why you don’t attend. I’d say that to support the hobby and increase your business longevity you need to be seen – shows like Phalanx attract younger people, and I’m always telling the fledgling gamers from my local area to check it out. They don’t buy wargames magazines and so only know of the companies they see in our local stores.. this for them to find you, you need word of mouth from someone like me. But then again, I’m not the one whose mortgage relies on the bottom line in this instance. :)

    For the last few shows I haven’t even taken figures as stock, just advance orders. Sales of 15mm at shows have nosedived. Salute 2015 for me did better selling paint, flags and playing cards on the day than it has ever done for me selling figures on the day. And yet, my last sales quarter is the best ever. Online sales of 15mm remain strong, so that size is clearly not dead commercially. My business comes from the internet, pure and simple, and currently is running at a level with which I find difficult to keep up. Like a number of other small figures businesses, I have more than enough work without attending wargames shows, and it shows every sign of continuing to grow.
    I love Phalanx as a show: the organisers are great and the club members helpful; the venue is fine and loading and unloading isn’t a problem; all the poeple who buy stuff from me there have been good to talk to. But attending the show requires a two-night stay, and when all expenses are considered, I need substantial sales for a show to make it worthwhile for the three days taken out of the week to attend. I don’t get strong enough show sales nowadays: despite a broad range of periods and scales of high quality figures I can none the less miss what is on-trend at a particular show. That doesn’t mean I won’t at some point in the future attend Phalanx, or any other show, as a one-off to fly the flag, but it won’t be with any figures stock. It may simply be with an armchair, a bottle of single malt and some business cards. 🙂

    Ian
    Fighting 15s
    www.fighting15s.com

    #26634
    Avatar photoMick A
    Participant

    I’ve been to two shows so far this year and both times couldn’t find the figures I was looking for and wasn’t tempted by any impulse buys

    #26656
    Avatar photoStewart Johnson
    Participant

    Ian, I can well understand a trader coming from a long way away not finding it worthwhile to attend Phalanx – my point was more general.

    And whereas you obviously won’t sell any figures if you don’t bring any, you know your business best. Thoughn ote that Magister got £30 of my custom on figures I didn’t mean to buy simply because they were there and I had a rush of blood to the head…..

    But if all people are going to get on trade stands is wall-to wall resellers, why actually bother to attend?

    #26660
    Avatar photoIan Marsh
    Participant

    whereas you obviously won’t sell any figures if you don’t bring any, you know your business best. Thoughn ote that Magister got £30 of my custom on figures I didn’t mean to buy simply because they were there and I had a rush of blood to the head….. But if all people are going to get on trade stands is wall-to wall resellers, why actually bother to attend?

    The issue with a very large range is gauging what will sell to impulse buyers, and it changes from show to show.

    The trouble with figures is that unless you are on-trend with what the locals are playing, you don’t sell many. I’ve been travelling to shows for 10 years with in effect a car load, and what sells, except at Salute, is far less than one box. In the past few years I haven’t even been able to sell 15mm AB at shows, although in the past they were the range that drove impulse buys. They still sell very strongly online, so the demand is there for them, but just not at shows. I can’t take everything to shows, and so I shifted to just advance orders for figures, and taking paint. Paint sales at the shows I did this at outstripped on-the-day figures sales from previous shows. Plus I had very fast set up and take down times. 🙂

    Follow-on sales from shows are unquantifiable. It’s impossible to display everything that I sell, so browsers at shows get a very limited view of what’s available. Orders from an area following a show may or may not be a result of someone browsing at a show and ordering later. They may equally be driven by an advert or post in a forum.  I get noticeable spikes in sales of items after forum posts about someone’s project (which are quantifiable because my website can see which from sites visitors are following links).

    I do fear that shows will eventually just have resellers shifting the same products in shiny packages or boutique games (particularly boutique SF games). That’s the way the commercial side of wargaming is going.

     

    Ian
    Fighting 15s
    www.fighting15s.com

    #26674
    Avatar photoStewart Johnson
    Participant

    Ian – I appreciate what you’re saying and can sympathise… I am possibly in an unusual situation of having sufficient shops close by that I don’t need to stock up on paints etc, so for shows I want the ‘shinies’….

    I too fear the resellers will kill the show scene… but why do resellers all try to re-sell the same things? Surely it would be worth some of them doing something a little different?

    Or am I not looking closely enough? Am I switching off as soon as I see rows of black boxes?

    #26680
    Avatar photoNorm S
    Participant

    > I too fear the resellers will kill the show scene <

    I  think the reality is that it will be visitors not spending enough money that will ultimately decide the fate of individual shows. Unless there is something like a £25 entrance fee (cheaper than a football match) that is used to support the traders and then we can all turn up  and treat the show as a social event as much as a commercial event.

    I do not say that with any sense of arrogance as plainly each person has their own financial position to consider when spending money, but money drives the show engine ….. no money ….. no show. It is not a social event in the current format.

    In the past two years I have attended fewer shows so that I could take that money to the select shows where I want to do my bit to ensure they are still around in the future. I cut down on mailed purchases in the months leading to a show, again to spend it at the show instead, so that my favourite traders are motivated to attend the shows that I like. If I sell anything on the bring and buy, I take that money into the trader hall. I think gamers have to go to shows with a positive mindset that they will support the trade and maybe just think of ways to do that better, especially when entry to the show is pitched so low (£3).

    I only visit specific coffee shops that I want to still be in business in five years time. I like photography, ten years ago the general public stopped spending money in camera shops and bought on-line instead. Now the shops have gone and we have lost more than just a high street sales outlet in the process. There are parallels with the show circuit.

    #26684
    Avatar photowillz
    Participant

    Very interesting topic this, it must be hard having a war-gaming business these days, however with the spread of internet one door closes an other opens.  I have done the occasional trade stand at wargame shows and have always done reasonably well, however all I am doing is selling items from my loft I no longer want or need.  Therefore my overheads are lower.  As to entry price for a show around the £3-£5 is the price I am happy to pay.

    Should a large group of traders (say 50+) hire a large venue, lets say the NEC at Birmingham and do a trade fair and charge £5-£10 entry fee it would be worth a visit.  As pointed out the entry fee into a football match for 2 hours entertainment is £30+, so would we as war-gamers be happy to pay £25 for a war-game show for 6 hours entertainment.  Probably not, though competition gamers pay a fee to enter games.  I think its a mind set thing, I think the War game Holiday Centre is a good concept, however at £95 a pop the price it a bit steep for me (though others are happy to pay and well done for the marketing concept).  So there are people who are willing to pay lots of money for 8 hours gaming, others are not.

    I live in south Devon we do not have that many war-game shows in this county so travel is a necessity for me, that adds to cost as it must do to everyone.  Hopefully trade stands will not disappear from shows, they will morph into something else.

     

    #26685
    Avatar photoNorm S
    Participant

    I’m not suggesting that I want to see at £25 gate fee (I certainly don’t) …. I am proposing that if the gamers want to attend a show for its social dimension rather than as a shopping experience, then the only way the circle can be fixed is to get money into the trader pocket via another route ….. i.e. the entrance fee. The gate fee could include an issue 20 x £1 vouchers – you can spend the vouchers at the show. The traders redeem the vouchers with the club (i.e. get refunded by the gate money) and everyone is happy, this that spend pay a fiver to get in, those that don’t pay £25 or part there-of as they may buy a couple of small items etc, but if they don’t spend anything, they will have still fully contributed to the ongoing life of the show (a win-win and a fair way of proceeding).

    I don’t think the problem is getting 50 traders into a space and putting on the wargame calendar – the problem is very specifically that not enough money is being spent at a show to support the 50 traders – so discouraging them from putting on a trade fare on in the first place.

     

    #26686
    Avatar photowillz
    Participant

    Fair point Norm, though maybe some traders are lazy and expect the punter to do the work.

    #26689
    Avatar photoNorm S
    Participant

    Some certainly look fed-up.

    On the games side, while these days everyone who you ‘interrupt’ will answer your questions, there still remains a sense that some of these games are just being played by a bunch of mates without any regard for the visitor standing anther table looking even mildly interested.

    This has been dealt with at Hammerhead (run by Kallistra) in which every table is a participation table and there is a positive buzz between all game tables and the public (especially as the gamers have worked hard to put something on that is interesting). I think they have very effectively ‘fixed’ that side of things and that show has moved into a league of its own. Last time I went, I sat at a table, played a 20 minute game and then went straight to a trader and bought stuff relating to that game – so that also seems to work and the show seems well rounded for that with an equal emphasis on trade and game, each complimenting the other.

    #26708
    Avatar photoStewart Johnson
    Participant

    Norm – I can see your point of view but…

    I generally take £100 to a wargames show to spend. Now, if I were interested in Warlord figures, only one of the re-sellers is going to get my trade anyhow. The Warlord/Perry 28mm market is catered for. So for a show to be successful, it surely has to also think about those of us who are interested in other things?

    I’m not saying Phalanx doesn’t do this – my £100 went very quickly (my only complaints being parking and the slowness of the burger van), just saying that if shows are to survive, the seeming homogeneity of the offer to buyers needs to be addressed.

    Or maybe simply have fewer stalls and more participation games? Or simply more room to breathe? Though then I guess we’re cutting into the profit margin of the club running it.

    #26713
    Avatar photopaintpig
    Participant

    Some certainly look fed-up. On the games side, while these days everyone who you ‘interrupt’ will answer your questions, there still remains a sense that some of these games are just being played by a bunch of mates without any regard for the visitor standing anther table looking even mildly interested. This has been dealt with at Hammerhead (run by Kallistra) in which every table is a participation table and there is a positive buzz between all game tables and the public (especially as the gamers have worked hard to put something on that is interesting). I think they have very effectively ‘fixed’ that side of things and that show has moved into a league of its own. Last time I went, I sat at a table, played a 20 minute game and then went straight to a trader and bought stuff relating to that game – so that also seems to work and the show seems well rounded for that with an equal emphasis on trade and game, each complimenting the other.

    Pretty much sums up my opinion, we have one very large national show and a few smaller state events in Australia. To be honest if it wasn’t for the chance to catch up with mates and have a week interstate mixed with a driving holiday (1200kms away) I doubt I could be bothered attending the big show. There is only a small handful of traders that aren’t reselllers so many stands are the same thing over and over and in the end it is mostly a gaming comp outing. . Hammerhead sounds like the smaller local shows we used to have in the good ol’ and personally I would like to see a show be a least 50% participation, it is the right way to get the unconverted “in” and for the rest of us it provides the opportunity to try out those things we hum and ahh over with experienced players. From what I read it is pretty much the case internationally that wargames shows have become trade events set up for the converted, to my mind that is not the route the hobby should be going down. Then again I doubt I have a clue.

    I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel
    Slowly Over A Low Flame

    #26720
    Avatar photoAngel Barracks
    Moderator

    Aye, all the games at my sci-fi show, Blast-Tastic! are participation.

    If it is demo only then a game needs to look stunning and have really engaging players to make up for the lack of participation.

    #26732
    Avatar photoStewart Johnson
    Participant

    It might be a controversial POV but I’ve never seen the point of demonstration games….. Waste of space.

     

     

    #26763
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    It might be a controversial POV but I’ve never seen the point of demonstration games….. Waste of space.

    I tend to agree with you, and I’ve played in demo games in the past.

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #26767
    Avatar photowillz
    Participant

    Demo games are useful and interesting if well done.  Having people who are willing to talk to the public as the game / demo runs on makes them interesting.  The demonstrators with their backs to the visiting public or huddled in a group looking miserable or not willing to talk too interested visitors does not help to sell the concept of demo games to the general public let alone the war-game fan base.

    #26768
    Avatar photoIan Marsh
    Participant

    Actually, I find there is nothing worse than having a demonstrator, particularly one dressed in costume for the period, without invitation explain a demonstration game’s minutiae and, where they supposedly exist, jokes; I’d far rather just a look at and admire figures and scenery and, if I wanted to know any more, ask.

    Demonstration games to me offer more scope to show off something big, and a really well crafted one with well done scenery and nicely painted figures can be inspirational; participation games, in comparison, need to be small and quick.

    I’m sure everyone’s mileage varies. 🙂

    Ian
    Fighting 15s
    www.fighting15s.com

    #26773
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    “what Connard Sage moan? Never”

    But you are Not Connard Sage.

     

    Maybe. Maybe not.

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

Viewing 30 posts - 1 through 30 (of 30 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.