One of the most challenging things for a local game store can be establishing and maintaining a customer base. Reliably being able to draw in customers is the biggest part of this, and the best way to do that is to offer incentives to bring in that clientele.
While you can always offer deals and sales as the most well worn form of incentive, that does only so much to establish a community. Instead, you should strongly consider running events based around the kinds of customers you have and the products you carry.
The most notable kind of events tend to be those fostered around trading card games. There are a lot of tournament types that you can run, ranging from set release events to sealed draft games. Many of these tournaments can be set up through the Organized Play networks of a given TCG, but you can also organize and run some events yourself.
While many official tournaments have a lot of merit, my recommendation is actually to lean into casual formats and try to establish a loyal customer base that loves these. The Magic: The Gathering Commander format, for example, can draw in a lot of crowds and they often appreciate having a community that’s able to organize and run play for them.
Tabletop Test Play
One of the best ways to create a customer base is, as you may be unsurprised to hear, to create new customers. Many individuals don’t know the games that ultimately appeal to them, and therefore don’t take the time to play them (much less spend money on them). Offering test play and introductory events can fix this.
Giving potential customers the option to come in and try introductory products, simple tabletop RPG sessions, or starter TCG decks can be extremely effective. This also gives seasoned players the opportunity to evangelize for the products they already love, letting them show new players the ropes and further building your community.
If your store carries any form of Tabletop RPG, organizing and running campaigns for your customers can be a real hit. These can be simple, self-organized campaigns that you put together yourself and run with volunteers or employees, or they can be official campaigns set out by Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, or other known publishers.
TTRPG players tend to be extremely loyal and are similarly prone to supporting the stores that support them in turn. From buying the newest books to trying TCGs and other tabletop games in between sessions, any kind of outreach to these clients can be great for your store.
With the popular boom in comic books and the culture that surrounds them, you can run assorted events that appeal to Marvel and DC fans alike. These can take a variety of forms, though my favorite are events that highlight specific product lines or teams, allowing you to promote, say, X-Men comics and tabletop games that star those characters.
Big comic publishers often run promotions that you can take advantage of, so make sure you’re in their contact list, but it’s most important that you can take part in the most well-known comic event: Free Comic Book Day. This yearly event can bring in a healthy number of new customers, as many shoppers do a full circuit of their local shops during this event.
If you would like assistance with events for your LGS, please schedule time with a Customer Success Manager (CSM).