In 1455, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror ordered the construction of what is now the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Since then, the Turks have been earning a fine living by trading their wares. In fact you can find bazaars all over the world. Bazaars are filled with a myriad of sights and sounds, things of new and things of old. No matter what you fancy, there is something there for everyone. So why not take a page out of the Sultan’s book and run your very own bazaar right in your store?
Speaking as a previous game storeowner, whenever we needed a little cash boost, we ran a bazaar at the store. It was always a huge hit and everyone was constantly asking when the next one was. As tempting as it was to run them all the time, it was important to not run them more than once a quarter. Doing so would sully the excitement and also thin out the goods people brought to the event.
The main goal in running a Bazaar is to create an exciting and memorable event that people will be talking about for weeks afterwards. The secondary goal is to create a cash boost for the store while getting new games in the hands of your customers.
The basic concept of the event is to set up a bunch of tables in your store (the Stalls) and sign up customers (the Merchants) who want to bring in their old games to sell to other customers. Each Merchant will be designated one half of a card table or perhaps a full table if you would like to make accommodations for folks with lots of stuff to sell.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGEWhen the Bazaar officially “opens” for business and all the Merchants have their wares displayed in their designated spots, customers (the Buyers) will come in and shop. Once a Buyer finds something they like, they will do some good old haggling over price with the Merchant. Now, the critical part is to make sure the Buyer pays you at the store register and not directly pass any money to the Merchant. You will then supply a receipt to the Buyer, which they will bring back and give to the Merchant as proof of purchase. The Merchant keeps all their receipts to double check sales at the end of the event. When the event ends, the Merchant will have store credit equal to the total of their sales.
So in essence, the Merchant is trading in their old stuff for new stuff at your store. The Buyers walk away with some great items, and you just had a successful sales event. I like to call it a win/win/win.
The Nuts and Bolts
- Pick a day for your event. Ideally it needs to be a Saturday or Sunday. You will need about 4-5 hours.
- Setup up a bunch of tables in your store and count how many spaces you can provide to your Merchants. Generally you can have two Stalls per normal sized card table.
- Send out a Facebook and Email blast inviting customers (Merchants) to sell all their unwanted games and hobby related supplies. Create some rules about what the Merchants can and cannot sell. Try to make sure they keep it in the hobby and gaming industry. We allowed video games even though we did not carry them. Old shoes should be right out, unless they are Star Wars collectibles. It is not necessary to charge Merchants for the spaces, although a nominal $5 may keep them committed.
- Once your stalls are accounted for, advertise the heck out of the event to get everyone and their friends to come out to your Grand Bazaar. Get your Merchants talking about what kind of cool stuff they might be bringing to generate some buzz.
- Once the doors to the Bazaar are open, you have one job, make sure to accurately record each transaction, because it will be hectic at times. The Bazaar will pretty much run itself. You will also need to occasionly make sure no one is making cash transactions at the stalls. I found the easiest thing to do is to get one of those duplicate ticket rolls. So when a Buyer comes to you and says they agreed to pay Merchant Bob $10 for a cool painted miniature, you will write “Bob $10” on the backs of the matching tickets and hand one to the Buyer who will then in turn hand it to Bob to collect his miniature. During slow periods, you can gather your tickets and enter them into the Grand Bazaar Sales Tracker spreadsheet.
- When the event is over, the Merchants will want to reconcile their end of day earnings. So be ready to go through their ticket stubs to match to your records. Be accommodating with your Merchants. They are the ones that made the event successful, so be sure to allow special orders for things they want to use their new store credit on.
End of the Day
So when it is all done, hopefully the Merchants will have made room in their gaming libraries for some new stuff and Buyers walked away with some hot deals. Get feedback from both the Buyers and the Merchants so your next event can be even better. Always be looking to improve the experience for your customers.