GTM #190 - 2015 Best of the Game Trade Award Winners!
by Emily Eckhart

Game Trade Magazine would like to congratulate the winners of the 2015 Best of the Game Trade Awards announced in September! Since the birth of the awards in 2012, Alliance and Game Trade Magazine have teamed together to create the game industry’s leading best practices event.

The “Best of the Game Trade Awards” exist to shine a much deserved spotlight on local game stores that exemplify what makes our industry special. The awards are judged by a jury of retailer peers online prior to the annual Alliance Open House. In addition to awarding stores for their outstanding performances, the awards build community among retail store owners which cultivates a creative and resourceful opportunity for store owners to share ideas and in-store practices.

The submissions brought in a total of 53 total self-nominations in 2015. All game and specialty hobby store retailers serviced by Alliance were invited to nominate their store for Best of the Game Trade Award consideration. The nominations were broken into five categories and voted by peer retail store owners online on the Retailer Services website and awarded at the Alliance Open House in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on September 14th, 2015.

~ More Than a Game Cafe - Bangkok, Thailand ~

More Than a Game Café is aimed at growing our customer base through service. Few Thais play board games, so we have ‘Game Masters’ to introduce them to games they might like. Located near several schools, we are family-oriented, and encourage families to come play our games. We had a culinary professional design our menu, and the food and beverage portion of our business is doing quite well.

In addition to selling board games and food, we have over 450 games people can play in-store: for $1.50/person the first hour and $1/hour after that, it allows us to maintain and expand our selection. We have a room we rent out for events, and provide corporations with team-building and skill-enhancement programs. We have outreach programs with local schools, ‘Monthly Challenges’ to highlight specific games, and game themed day-camps for kids during school holidays.

~ Spilavinir - Reykjavik, Iceland ~

Spilavinir was especially designed to help spark children's imagination and enhance their joy of playing.

We seek out exciting board games for children wherever they may be published and try to offer as much variety as possible. The store keeps an open, playable copy of every game and customers are welcome to try them out. Our staff is ever ready to demonstrate and teach each and any game. It is not uncommon for parents to bring their children here for the sole purpose of sitting down to enjoy playing a board game together.

We have been going to schools to organize board game nights for children and their parents right from day one. These evenings are intended for enjoyment and education and no sales take place during them. We can advise you on which games to choose regarding whether you want to focus on language development, mathematics, sensory development or simply pure enjoyment.

~ Dragon's Lair Comics and Fantasy - Austin, TX ~

Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy has several great displays for showing off new releases and products to our guests.  First and foremost, our New Games display showcases our most recent releases right at the front of the store!  There is a huge, fiery sign stating “New Games” to further emphasize its location. Dragon’s Lair also has a Game Trade Magazine display set up next to our New Games highlighting anticipated, upcoming releases to pre-order. Our website (dlair.net/Austin) contains a New Games page linking to the most recent Game Trade Magazine issue and its headline products.  We schedule days to demo new game releases and have our employees run the demos.  It’s a great way to engage our guests and encourage our staff to learn, celebrate, and sell new products!

~ The Game Hub - Lower Lake, CA ~

I'm Kyle, owner of The Game Hub in Lower Lake, California. You may know us from the Magic card floor that floated around the internet a couple years ago. We've been around for almost five years now and have expanded nearly every year on our anniversary. This most recent year was our largest yet. We leased the neighboring unit and knocked down the wall in between, effectively doubling our space. Of course, we had to work on the floor, as it was old, rotten carpet...and we only had one possible option. One week of work, and roughly 17,000 cards later, we had another 1000 square feet of card floor. Now we have the space to handle everything we plan, and I couldn't be happier.

~ Battlefront Bangkok - Bangkok, Thailand ~

Our team is given a range of motivational and bonus structures at BFB. The most straight forward ones are the financial and discount benefits. Our staff receive a bonus based on the store’s quarterly sales profits (as a store, not individual sales) and also receive a 20% discount on all items they buy. However, being based overseas in a non-English speaking country, one of the best perks our team gets is actually the massive improvement of their English language skills through gaming. With 30% of our customers being Expats and all the games in English they are given a perfect and fun environment to push their language skills to new levels! When they leave us to move on to new jobs, that's a skill increase worth more than any amount of bonuses!

~ John Kovalic ~

USA Today called him a “Hot Pick.” His award-winning editorial cartoons appear everywhere from his hometown Wisconsin State Journal and Rolling Stone, to the New York Times and the Washington Post. His creations include the sell-out comic book sensation Dork Tower, as well as Newbies, Wild Life, Beached, and many other features, including Murphy's Rules, The Unspeakable Oaf, Help Wanted, and SnapDragons. He's co-founder and co-owner of Out of the Box Games — of which he helped create GAMES Magazine's “1999 Party Game of the Year,” Apples to Apples — and is a frequent contributor to the madness that is Steve Jackson Games. He's illustrated nearly 4,000 cards for the Munchkin game, alone, and more than 100 games and supplements, and is also responsible for toys such as My Little Cthulhu and Mythos Buddies. He was also inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame in July 2003, the first cartoonist to receive such an honor!