Updated: May 17
Hi Everyone! So, back in the day when we were open to the public, I could talk to you all, make announcements, and get feedback quickly, but things are different now. Since we can now offer curbside pickup- it’s been wonderful to see new and familiar faces, catching up about how your coping with working from home, or still actually working-working, many have been furloughed or laid off, and we’ve shared some stressful tears with our customers and friends who work in the hospitals, emergency rooms, or even teachers who are trying to teach and counsel not only their students but their student’s parents, or even giving air hugs to a customers who’s extended family is Covid positive and they can’t do anything to help them. These are some of the reasons behind us not letting customers inside the shop yet. I want to share what else we’ve been up to behind the scenes, the good, the bad, and also get your input on what the future of not only just Game Vault – but the future of in-story play, in-store gaming, events for all gaming stores could be. Now, in the beginning of 2020 – we were working on a few upgrades and surprises. By the end of January, early February, our wonderful landlord offered us the space next door (the Motorcycle Shop moved out) and we had visions (and de-ja-vu of combining our old spaces back in Suite N :P) of connecting the two spaces, expanding and carrying the full lines from Games Workshop, Paints, and more – plus we were in the works of getting some nice Warhammer and miniature gaming tables! It would also free up a little bit of our sales floor space – because I wanted to bring in a broad line of puzzles and we also had plans on revamping our video game and plushie sections! Here's a few pictures from my store owner friends that have inspired me!
But, as you are aware 2020 is going a different route. We went on our work trip in March and that’s when Coronavirus started to really spread in America, and it was becoming prevalent that we couldn’t move forward with our plans and had to turn down our landlords offer. But we made some more business friends and contacts to bring home with us when the time is right. We came home from GAMA, and 8 days later we were closed by the city being classified as a non-essential business. We scrambled to try and secure any funding while asking the city to let us offer curbside-pickup or delivery. This Monday, May 11th, will be over 6 weeks since we’ve been closed to the public. During that time, we’ve done our best to be positive, proactive and we created an online website, (which will be a permanent upgrade to what we can offer) and we got all* of our product on there! Now that we’ve had that going for a couple weeks, I’ve thought of a few ways to improve the website already, but it will take time. PLUS with the movement and progress we’ve had on the kitchen, (more details on that below) I have not had time to finish the inventory so I’m still missing some of the D&D Dice, the drinks (chips and candies are on the site and great additions to pick up orders or deliveries ;) ), and our project of putting singles on our website is slow going, but it will be done. We’ve put a lot of work into the website, for example with our board games we have pictures and descriptions for each one. *For all our new followers, we typically price most of our board games about 15% off msrp to compete with places like Amazon & Target. I realize now that I could put the msrp in the price section on the website and OUR price in the “on sale price” section – but then it’s “always” on sale and I think it’s weird and misleading. So just know that we are trying to give you the best prices we can, but we do rely on the little profit we do make to keep our doors open. This includes the AC running, restocking the shelves, and paying our employees among the numerous big and little things on a list that’s too long even for me – a long winded individual- to describe. The Good: We’ve made significant progress on our kitchen! As of 05/08/2020 we have passed all inspections and have 1 more scheduled for next week! (As of 05/11/2020 - We've passed ALL inspections and approved to start cooking, serving and selling food! Stay tuned and watch for updates as we get that ball rolling) So, while offering our kitchen as curbside, to-go and delivery orders was not the Grand Opening we imagined. It’s progress and I cannot describe how happy Coary has been! Here is the first draft of our menu (AND the first peek at our Café Logo!)
(We’ve had to remove some of the snacks and quick eat items for now, that’s another story for a different time.) We’ve asked for your support and patience on this project for the last 2 years, we’ll need a little more of it as we tweak the menu and get all of that sorted and worked into our system and new online system. We will be the first official Board Game Café in El Paso – thanks to your support in our dream and vision! *Also one of Coary’s expertise and passions is bread and pastries and while we wanted to offer homemade bread and pizza dough at some point, he’s actually going to use this time since it will be a little slower than it would be if we were fully open – to make it from scratch from the start! We also do want to offer items for our gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, diabetic and keto customers – we do have you in mind and items will be added as Coary gets comfortable and used to his kitchen.* I found a picture of the tarts he made a few years ago before we opened the store. Recognize the pattern? :P
05/16/2020 Kitchen Update! I got the first official sandwich today on homemade hoagie roll! Tomorrow we test his pizza recipe! Stay tuned! *Proud wifey moment, I took a zillion pictures today*
The Bad: We can’t predict the future. And if life has taught me anything, I have to be flexible, we have to adapt. Many of you have been supportive and understanding of our decision to continue with curbside pick-up/delivery options only, we still feel it isn't the right time to let people back into the shop yet. But we had a day last week where we were yelled at, hung up on, and blatantly told the choice was stupid and we didn’t deserve their business. It was a bad day and was almost enough to make us throw in the towel. I haven’t had a day/interaction like that since I left corporate retail in pursuit of running a small business. Running a small business is a dream come true as I am a hard working, caring, people person and I take things personally and to heart. I would have terrible days when customers would get mad at me when I worked at GameStop, Best Buy, etc, because they were upset at Best Buy or Game Stop and not me personally. With a small business it’s different, or should be. I wanted to be able to fix and solve problems as best as I could without the constraints of a faceless corporate shell. Also, the whole world is going through a global pandemic – its disrupted lives (its claiming lives) I think we all need to be nice, caring and patient, more than ever. We’ve had phone calls, car side conversations, and text messages with so many of our customers/friends that are personally affected by this virus- we cannot take it lightly and let everyone come back to tournaments right away. I really want to – and I know you do too, and we will work towards that, but we can’t do it just yet. *Yes, we have applied and reapplied for all funding, local, national – and have received no good news. We will continue to try different avenues, but we are hanging in there at this moment because of all YOUR support. Some of you have shared these images with us - but we can't justify these options here in El Paso yet. Feel free to use the poll at the bottom to tell me I’m crazy like some people have, or give your suggestions or just tell me you miss us and will come back when its safe and will continue to support us online.
But these pictures don’t work when a virus can move sideways, and what happens when we post pairings, and everyone gets up to change seats and find their new opponent. Or think of the restroom?! Sure, we could leave cleaning supplies in there and trust that customers are wiping down after every use – but will they?! And I don’t have the kind of profit to ensure an employee can go clean it after every use. As of 05/08/2020 we can let 25% capacity in, (again we’re not going to just yet, but hear me out) 25% of our capacity limit is 20 people. So, we have to cap Friday Night Magic at 12 people, because we'll need at least 2 employees working for events, so that’s 6 other people that can either hang out casually or shop the sales floor? How do I decide which 12 people get to play? Eventually the capacity will be increased, but I’m still not confident that is the best choice. While some of you “may not care”, we do care. Especially because this virus is undetected and can be carried/infectious for up to 2 weeks, that’s a lot of chances that it could be one of our players or shoppers, and one of those players or shoppers may have a kid at home, an elderly parent they could bring it back to. I technically can’t go visit my Mom till it’s safe, and our employees may have an immune venerable person at home too. It would destroy my heart to know someone got sick or got infected because of our store, it would kill me. Curbside pick-up/delivery is the safest option right now. But we need your support in order to continue that. We’ve talked to quite a few of you who don’t feel comfortable investing money into card games when you can’t come in and play – this is where it gets tricky because as consumers and players first – we TOTALLY get that. But we need your support so we can be here ready to run events when its safe and proper to do so again. Also we are not the typical store or bank where we can install a sneeze guard or plexiglass around the register, you can ask the employees- but the customer service person in me is out from behind the register, on the sales floor helping people find the best board game, the best paint for their miniatures or showing different samples of sleeves for their cards. It doesn’t feel good or possible to stand behind the register/safe plexi glass and let people self-shop. The Future: Some ideas and options we're looking at and talking about:
*We could cut down the tournament seating rows from 3 to 2 or 1 row, space out the seating more too– but it doesn’t stop people from gathering together between rounds and the such, and again we run into the problem of choosing who gets to play. "First 10 people to sign up?" Just doesn’t feel good or the best way to handle it. Or we could condense down to a row or two, open for just casual play, no tournaments and implement a reservation system, have a table time limit so that everyone gets a chance to meetup and play something? (This, of course, being when we feel comfortable to let people back in the store – this option would not be next week or anything that soon.) *We can temporarily take down all the seating and tables and expand our sales floor into the play space, then I can space out the gondolas and racks so there can be more social distancing while shopping. But will you continue to buy games and activities to play at home with your household even if you cannot come out to the stores and play? We could test bringing in the full lines of different products like I talked about earlier too. *Board Game Demo Rentals – this has always been kind of in the back of my mind, and we made a friend during our business trip earlier this year that is going to teach me how she does it at her shop for the last ten years! And this may be the perfect time to test/launch it. I’ll have more info on this later, but just like the rest of the store – my board game demos are meant to be very hands on. While they’ve been sitting here unused for the last 6 weeks, once we open back up are you going to feel comfortable pulling one off the shelf and playing it even if we leave out wipes, sanitizer and etc. With a rental system, we can then quarantine it for 5 days after sanitizing it. (CDC says it can live on plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours.) But this would put use to our demos, so they get some love during all this too. *Our 4 year Anniversary is about 6 months away! I really hope things have improved by then and we can hold our traditional celebration, so please continue to support us, support each other, stay safe and healthy – encourage others to be safe and healthy and we’ll make it through this together! RAFFLE TIME: We have a few promotions/raffles we’re doing for each section of our store, especially because there’s a few special items coming out, but they are limited, or we have promos and we can’t obviously incentivize in-store play so here’s what we’re going to do: *Most of them are going to be featuring the use of our online store – and yes previous uses will work since we can track from the very first day we launched the site! All previous orders will be counted, any delivery, shipped, pick up order placed will automatically enter you into the raffle. * *All winners will be chosen at random* UPDATE~~ It's a good problem: but we've been SUPER busy and ontop of anxiety, I haven't made a choice yet, I promise I will make an update/drawing Monday May 18th! Board Games/Teacher Appreciation Week: (Facebook link for the post here)
*HOLY COW! I never expected that kind of response to one of our posts. I was added to the Facebook group “Adopt a Teacher El Paso” and figured it would be cool to give away a couple board games to some nerdy teachers in the area – and now I have over 250 comments. AHHHH… so I feel weird only giving away a couple board games when there are so many deserving teachers! SOOO.. I reached out to some of the board game companies and most of them have agreed to help! But it will take me 2-3 weeks to get their support in shop. So later today we’re going to randomly choose a couple teachers from the comments we will give them games from what we have on hand and ones that are appropriate for what they teach – and then we’ll go back and choose a couple more when I get the support from companies like: Haba, Asmodee, Usopoly, Iello, Devir, Fireside Games, Gamewright/Brainwright, and even my distributors have agreed to help. Magic the Gathering: *I stated the first time we ran an “at-home-Friday Night Magic” that participating would not only get you the Arena promo code that Wizards of the Coast provided, BUT we were going to keep track and set aside promos in real life. Now that we are offering curbside pickup/ delivery – I’ll have the promos set aside for you the next time you place an order. See the picture below:
*Not only that, but that Secret Lair Ultimate Edition that comes with the fancy lands that people have been hounding me about – you can “like” the post on Facebook (Linked here) for your chance to BUY one from us. (We were only allocated 5…) I know its weird, but because the demand is so high – and the price tag is going to be $299.99 we felt this was the most even and fair way for people to have a chance at them. UPDATE!~~ We got SUPER busy and I got really far behind and forgot to promote this post/make the drawing. PLUS the release date for these Secret Lairs got pushed back to June. I will promote it for one more week and pull the names on Friday May 22nd! I am so sorry and thank you for your patience!
Pokemon: *I have a special Game Vault made promo pack we’re going to raffle! I can’t reveal the contents, but they’re sweet! How do you enter – use our online store! (It’s 1 raffle entry per person, just to avoid someone making 7 individual purchases to try and enter multiple times.) UPDATE!~~ We got SUPER busy and I got really far behind and forgot to promote this post/make the drawing. I will promote it for one more week and pull the names on Friday May 22nd! I am so sorry and thank you for your patience! Dragonball: We’re getting a couple exclusive playmats, so 2 people who have used our online system to purchase any Dragonball product will be entered to win 1. (Again, It’s 1 raffle entry per person’s purchase, just to avoid someone making 7 individual purchases to try and enter multiple times.) UPDATE!~~ We got SUPER busy and I got really far behind and forgot to promote this post/make the drawing. I will promote it for one more week and pull the names on Friday May 22nd! I am so sorry and thank you for your patience!
UFS: Premier Playmat! *Use our online system to make any UFS purchase and be entered in a chance to win a Premier Playmat! *Once the winner is picked, we’ll message them pictures of which ones we have available they can choose! (It’s 1 raffle entry per person, just to avoid someone making 7 individual purchases to try and enter multiple times.) UPDATE!~~ We got SUPER busy and I got really far behind and forgot to promote this post/make the drawing. I will promote it for one more week and pull the names on Friday May 22nd! I am so sorry and thank you for your patience! Warhammer: *Catachan Coronel exclusive figure! We were only granted 1 of these figures and just like with the Magic product we felt this would be the fairest way to give everyone a shot to win it for free! For this one we're offering two entries per person: UPDATE!~~ We got SUPER busy and I got really far behind and forgot to promote this post/make the drawing. I will promote it for one more week and pull the names on Friday May 22nd! I am so sorry and thank you for your patience!
1. Use our online system to purchase anything Warhammer/Citadel Paints. (Again, It’s 1 raffle entry per person’s purchase, just to avoid someone making 7 individual purchases to try and enter multiple times.) 2. Tag us in a figure you’ve painted during quarantine. *Again, this just gives you a second chance to be in the raffle, I know I would be nervous to post my own painted mini because I’m not the best – but this way it just shows your progress, its not a competition.* *You can tag us in a Facebook post, I’ll like the post when I’ve written down your name, or post it in our Facebook group, or our Discord.* D&D: We were allocated 2 of the new Zombie Beholder figures! So, we’re going to raffle those too! Use our online system to make any D&D purchase – figures, paints, books, dice – and you’ll be entered to win one! (Again, It’s 1 raffle entry per person’s purchase, just to avoid someone making 7 individual purchases to try and enter multiple times.) *It's only one Zombie Beholder - but it comes with the attachments for his attacks* UPDATE!~~ We got SUPER busy and I got really far behind and forgot to promote this post/make the drawing. I will promote it for one more week and pull the names on Friday May 22nd! I am so sorry and thank you for your patience!
Final Thoughts & Survey: Thank you all so much for any and all support! I've said it before but even if you can't support us financially because you've lost your job like a lot of people have - being active and engaging in our communities like our Facebook page, Facebook Group, or Discord - is amazing and helpful, tagging us in pictures, and word of mouth - telling your friends and family about our store and especially our webstore - is worth its weight in gold. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you. We will all get through this together. Wait, one more thing. The people that make the Square reigster/the website we built off of that - are working to update things and offer new features. One of the features I've asked for is a "Pay at the store option" for cash people. We will still take cash, I just ask that you msg our Facebook, or text our store phone with what you're wanting to buy (after perusing the website) and we'll pull the order for you and meet you outside when you're here! ALSO - I know the site auto defaults to shipping (it's another feature we've asked them to add/change) - here is a video of how you can change it if you're using a desktop - and here is a picture of how to change if it you're using your phone! Thank you again.