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Peddling a Piece of Yesterday: Games from Everywhere
David Trounce began ‘Games from Everywhere’ as a way to sell old-world treasures to a new audience. What he didn’t expect was the positive influence of modern video games.
Games from Everywhere is the brainchild of David Trounce, a veteran of the tourism industry and teacher from Sydney that runs the online store with the help of his wife, Gail.
While selling old-world games online in the age of the video game might sound contradictory, Trounce tells us he has experienced some significant successes in the last few months. With the Christmas trading period doing wonders for business, he also discovered a new source of traffic from the most unlikely of places: those games he doesn’t stock – video games.
We interviewed Trounce in the hope of finding out a little bit more about this singular situation.
Games from Everywhere
- Website: www.gamesfromeverywhere.com.au
- Specialty product: Handcrafted board games and puzzles
- CMS platform: PrestaShop
- Development: Outsourced, freelance
- Point of difference: Carries ‘fair trade’ items, supports indigenous communities globally
What led you to start Games from Everywhere?
I grew up with board games. In a household of seven, holiday trips were rare and rainy days would have sent my family nuts if it wasn’t for Scrabble and Monopoly.
Games from Everywhere started out organically one night while my wife Gail and I were sitting at the table playing a game known as Oware. Oware is the national game of Ghana and means, “He, She marries”. I grew up with this game and every time I played it I was taken away to another time and place. Some unknown family man in Ghana had sat by the side of the road and carved this game out of wood for me.
It was at that point that we said how nice it would be, in a world of plastic, to bring these beautiful games (along with the cultures and stories behind them) to others.
Setting up an online business seemed to be the way to go. More flexibility, less initial outlay. So began the task of researching and digging up these treasures. We wanted a mix of games from around the world that had a story to tell and that said something about the cultures in which they were born and it was that desire that set the framework for our business.
How long did it take to get from concept to market? What were the major challenges?
It took us six months to gather our research, establish an initial supply chain and develop the ethos and structure of the business. The major challenge was, and still is, unearthing the best games from the hardest to reach places. Our research, for example, showed us that a simple and popular game like Yahtzee was the marketing genius of a couple of Canadians while cruising on their luxury yacht. But the original game was actually called, “Cacho” and was the typical past time of people in Bolivia.
So, it was off to Bolivia and South America to find someone who would make the game with all it’s original flair and character. The result was a beautiful hand-made leather Cacho Set. We loved the fact that not only were we supporting indigenous cultures and their families, we were also providing a quality product from the country that gave it to the rest of the world in the first place.
How do you source your products? Where do they come from for the most part?
Our aim is to source our products from the country of origin. So, for example, we aim to get our Chess from India, our Backgammon from the Middle East, our Crokinole from Nova Scotia and our Squatter from Australia. We also allow ourselves the flexibility to source games in countries which have adopted new games into their culture and so we even have a chess set from the Galapagos Islands, hand carved from native vegetable ivory. It’s their game made their way!
Most of the work in sourcing these products has been word of mouth. A lot of our sourcing came originally from scouring the internet and writing to anyone who might provide us with a lead. We also use a number of reputable Australian suppliers for the more modern games and have promoted independent board game designers in an effort to help them in to the game market.
As a result of this eclectic mix, many of the board games on our site cannot be bought elsewhere in Australia.
What does your marketing mix look like and what have you found to be more or less successful in digital marketing?
We have three simple strategies in our marketing. Good Social Media: Good SEO and Word of Mouth.
We have not found Google AdWords and similar campaigns to have any where near the success of good social media practices. We have positioned ourselves in an otherwise crowded market as a business that will give you something more than just a game. We give you something of quality, of value, and something that will last and word about that tends to spread if you do it well.
Our marketing pitch was developed around three key words: Classic. Clever. Beautiful.
To sit in our store, a game must have some enduring quality and not just the latest yellow Furby. It must be well made. It must be a game that has a clever mechanic behind it; something more than just the spin of a wheel or a buzzing light. And it must be good looking.
Our on-page marketing was devised around the countries and cultures in which particular games originated. Our games from the USA look and reflect the culture of the USA, as do our games from each of the continents listed on our site. Our customers have responded to this unique approach to games and it has led to sales from all over the world.
What trends have you noticed over the past few years and where do you expect over the next 12 months?
One of the trends that helped us develop our business model was the increased demand for higher quality board games. People could get a plastic game of Perudo made in China that would last a year, or they could come to us and get the real thing from Peru and have it for life. They would have a game that was unique, well made and had a story to tell. People are increasingly wanting merchandise that will last the test of time.
The increased awareness of Fair Trade production has also increased and we expect the demand for eco-friendly and Fair Trade products to continue throughout 2013.
Do you have specific developments planned?
We are always sourcing and recovering new games from around the world. This includes the latest board games for children from the USA or Europe, as well as re-emerging classics from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
We hope to develop our three main product lines, Latest Kids Games, Exclusive Games and Fair Trade or Cultural Games to a wider audience this year in an effort to make our games more and more accessible to the Australian market.
You say you’ve performed particularly well in the recent holiday season compared to the years previous. To what do you attribute this sudden rise in traffic and sales?
Amidst talk of falling trade, we have been very encouraged by our sales this season. They rose by 33 percent above the previous year.
There are probably a few reasons for this. One is the demand for higher quality items; we sell more $400 chess sets than we do $150 chess sets. Our customers also told us that they had come to us because we answered our phones, replied to their emails and gave them a turn around of about 24 hours for shipping. Simple, old fashioned things that people still hope for in the Digital Age.
We also suspect that our pre-christmas online marketing efforts and social media exposure had a lot to do with it. People have become ad-blind online and tend to give greater weight to what their friends are saying. Social media provides an ideal platform to share your online buying experience and this has led to a significant number of referrals through word of mouth.
Our site sales were also boosted, ironically, by the video game market. XBox brought out Assassin’s Creed 3 late in 2012, in which the characters have to play a very old game called Fanorona – the national game of Madagascar. And so we were inundated with requests from mums wanting it for our most unlikely demographic – 16 year old video gamers with a sudden passion for this otherwise obscure game. They were offered an alternate version of the game from elsewhere but they insisted on getting the “real deal” – our hand made version from Madagascar – and so we sold out in about two weeks.
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