Happy New Year!
We hope your holiday season was restful, fun and fruitful to you and yours! Here at Imaginary Wars, with the Christmas and New Years area of the calendar being our busiest time, it’s usually not until well after the start of the New Year that we get a chance to reflect on the year we managed to make it through. (Hence why our blog’s ringing in the New Year a fair amount of days after the fact—still, not too bad when you consider the length of time between some of our posts last year!) But now that we’ve had that chance to look back at the year that was, we realised what really made an impact on us was our clientele–namely the quality, loyalty and the generosity with others that is regularly displayed by those who shop and play games at Imaginary Wars.
In all the hobby stores I’ve worked at (and this store is my seventh), none of those stores have had customers as friendly and open as we have here. Seriously, the number of times a customer here has lent a hand, helped out a new player or helped me with another customer’s more in-depth questions cannot be easily tallied. During the bumpy ride that our economy has been giving all of us throughout 2016, it’s been our regular customers that have made the store’s journey through the year significantly less bumpy.
With that realisation, and looking at the upcoming year, Jim and I thought about what we could do for our loyal patrons that might also help turn the more-sporadic shoppers into regular customers as well. Pretty much the moment we closed up for the day following our January First “Hangover Sale,” we set ourselves to thinking about how we could bring that about.
Changes, Additions & Improvements
We’ve all—and I do mean all of us—been conditioned to know that when someone talks about “Change,” invariably it’s for the worse. Sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small ways, but the trend is always downwards. So it’s with some hesitation that I use that word, but change is indeed what we’re bringing into 2017! Some of the changes are blanket policy changes, some are just things that we’re adding to the mix while with others, we’re just trying on for size and seeing if they get much of a response.
The Imaginary Dollars Points Reward Program
By far, the biggest thing we’re doing in the New Year is improving our Imaginary Dollars program. Our points program is essentially the same program now as it was when we first opened shop. It has served us well, and it has served our loyal customers well also. Our only real beef with the program is that there’s a couple spots where we’ve seen customers struggle to achieve the next threshold and other areas where we’ve seen customer put off using points as the level they were at didn’t feel worth it to them (rather than waiting just a bit longer to get to the next plateau). So we made some changes.
Fundamentally, our points program hasn’t changed, but we have tweaked it so that people can redeem their points for higher credit amounts sooner. The changes: getting $40 store credit used to require accruing 6500 points; the requirement has now been lowered to 6000 points. Likewise, to get $75 credit, you used to need 9500 points, and that’s now been lowered to 9000 points.
We’ve also modified how to gain some bonus points: we now award points for helping improve our social media presence (plus the regular referral bonus that has been a part of the reward program from the start).
We’re also trying out a couple other things in the New Year; with these, we’ve decided to just make them limited time initiatives for the winter months—unless they prove to be popular with our customers and/or don’t break the bank (which we’re pretty sure they won’t), and we’ve also decided to limit them to just a single day of the week—to better gauge customers’ response to them.
Old School Cash Mondays
Following in the footsteps of many other small businesses, we’ve decided to offer a discount to those who pay by cash. Paying by cash saves our business on banking fees; though the fees tend not to be too too much, if you add up those daily fees across an entire month they can turn into a real amount of money pretty quickly. So, on Mondays this winter, we’re willing to pass on the savings to anyone who saves us on those banking fees: if you fully pay for a purchase of $10 or more on Mondays, we’ll give you a 3% discount. This will be on top of the points you’ll also earn from that purchase. (It should be noted that points cannot be used to help pay for any purchase where, in that transaction, there is a discount, price reduction or volume price break–vis-à-vis boxes of booster packs).
Comic File Customer Wednesdays
We’ve decided to add on to what is already one of the best incentive programs in Calgary for comic collectors! Here’s a summary of what Imaginary Wars already offers to its comic reservation file customers:
– No deposit for starting a file, nor any kind of monthly or annual fee to maintain a file with our comic reservation service
– No penalties for dropping a comic title (many stores make you buy the next two issues after cancelling)
– A 5% break on the exchange rate used to determine the cover price of monthly comic books for any file customers who collecting 5 or more titles per month
We’ve decided to reward comic file customers who make a point to pick up their books on Wednesdays, the day that all the new comics first hit the shelf, with a bonus 10 points per book they buy that day. Ten points doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that each comic generally earns you thirty or fifty points, those ten extra points per book give you roughly 20-30% more points than you’d normally earn. And all just for shopping on a Wednesday!
Bring a Friend Points Bonus
This promotion was started in November, but we’ve decided to continue it through some (or all) of the winter season. Essentially, it’s a deluxe version of our referral bonus. This promotion is aimed at those who are ambassadors of the store and introduce others they know to shopping at Imaginary Wars. The promotion is pretty self explanatory: you bring a friend in to shop at Imaginary Wars for the first time, and you earn bonus points equal to the amount of points they earn from their first purchase. (They’ll still get the 250 points from ‘acting on your referral’ and coming down to the store.)
Other Big Things for 2017: Painting Lessons!
With those nuts and bolts out of the way, we’re also pleased to announce we’ll be offering regular free painting lessons beginning this February! These lessons will be geared more towards brand-new and less experienced painters. They’ll be offered on a first come, first served basis every Saturday where other events haven’t crowded out the painting table (which means that they’ll be offered on most weekends).
The lessons will be taught by our resident painter extraordinaire, Justin. Right now, we’re imagining the lessons as coming in three flavours:
– an Absolute Beginner’s Lesson (roughly 45 minutes), where we cover the fundamentals of miniature painting, brush care and good habits
– a Novice Lesson (roughly 30-45 minutes): we teach and/or fine tune common short cuts such as washes and drybrushing
– a Q&A Lesson (20 minutes or more) Novice painters come to us to tackle a specific issue
As you can see, we’re really gearing our efforts towards helping those who are new to painting and who will gain the most benefit from a one-on-one lesson. That said, we’re still planning to run Advanced Painting Workshops where we can to bring in the more experienced painters who will impart their extensive knowledge in a workshop / seminar format. A good friend of the store and (from what I can tell) the chief instigator of the Alberta Miniatures Painter Society…of Alberta has been the main organiser for bringing the world-renowned painters, Mathieu Fontaine and Alfonso Giraldes; I know he was talking about some other painters, but with nothing has solidified as of yet.
Other Big Things for 2017: Gaming!
2017 is going to be an awesome year for gaming! Here are some of the things coming we’re already starting to get organized on:
– Blood Bowl: Exhibition Games throughout January PLUS the “Blitz-A-Bition” Round Robin event on January 15 (with GW’s Blitz Mania League starting sometime in February!)
– Magic the Gathering: Two Draft Nights and Two Frontier Format nights! January Sees TWO draft nights, the regular first Friday of the month as well as the Aether Revolt Launch night; on the non-draft Fridays, we’ll be taking the Frontier Format out for a spin—meaning that players can use any cards from the M15 Core Set all the way up to the current Kaladesh and Aether Revolt sets!
– Magic the Gathering: Aether Revolt Pre-Release Events: we’re running two: one on Saturday, January 14 (3pm) and the other on Sunday, January 15 (1pm).
– Heavy Gear: New to Terra Nova Day: January 28th (1pm). We’ve already run some “How-To” days with Heavy Gear,this time around we’re having players showing up with a small force to get a working understanding of how to play this Made-in-Canada giant-robots tactical miniatures game!
So there you have it: some big(ish) changes and lots of cool events too–and the year has just begun!