What are stores doing to combat the lockdown?

As we all know the UK and Ireland are currently on lockdown, leaving customers no way to visit your stores. However, this has created a few opportunities as families want to engage with each other, hobbyists are looking to fill the hours, and players are trying to keep engaged with their friends and games of choice.

At this time, it is important for a store to focus on their cash flow and maintaining their status as a hub for their communities. We’ve reached out to a few of those stores for ways they are keeping their communities engaged and we’re going to share them with you, our valued OTS stores!

Remember, when engaging with your community to adhere to all guidelines from the World Health Organisation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your government authority.

· CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/

· WHO: https://www.who.int/

· Larger businesses with online stores are still able to arrange collections with Royal Mail from their warehouses and mailing centers. Some businesses in many industries are arranging a door to door drop off or outside store collection of goods. This depends on what each business can manage logistically and safely.

· Many card games have online versions and stores are running tournaments for them. Stephen of Beanie Games explained to us that they have found using Discord has proven a popular and free way to interact and coordinate an event and its results. He explained to us that trusted members of his community/staff that are tech savvy have stepped up to help their FLGS in this time of need.

· Social media is a fantastic tool to keep engaged with your community. As Sean from ‘Patriot Games – Sheffield’ explained, whether it is posting jokes, daily questions or memes, having a regular interaction is vital. Many people are home feeling isolated and something consistent for them can be very important.

· Sean also explained that incentives for buying gift vouchers is a potential option: ‘This is a good way to continue taking money, but does need to be prepared for on the other end (as if it's popular, people will be coming in with a lot of money to spend!)’

· For campaigns such as D&D or board games, some stores are running group calls using tools such as Skype or Google Hangouts. Having set times to schedule games could be a great way to reach out to many people. This can potentially be charged for per session or per hour, just as you would like table hiring in store. To ensure security to the consumer you may need to consider how this is collected and coordinated, potentially a staff member of the store. Consumers need to feel secure with their giving of funds in a different way to what they may be used to.

The safety of your community should be highest priority. However, the impact on the hobby industry should never be underestimated, the service provided by stores as a hub of their community is extremely valuable to many people – even if they’re restricted to digital platforms for now. You can provide the consistency, stability, and positive interactions and help forge friendships that will endure when your community are reunited. The positive distraction of a game or two, or reaching out to a person self-isolating, can make all the difference.

In addition to these methods of engaging with your community, Governments are stepping in to help keep small businesses and the economy afloat at this troubled time. This includes breaks for rents/mortgages, business rates and even paying up to 80% of furloughed employee’s wages. In the UK, there is even a proposed £10,000 grant available for small businesses paying business rates - be sure to contact your local authority for more information on what to do. There have been several announcements of what is in place which can be found in articles here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-52005137

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-i-own-a-business-or-have-a-mortgage-how-do-i-access-the-chancellors-help-package-11959524

https://www.ft.com/content/3f4a51de-6c20-11ea-9bca-bf503995cd6f

You can read more about business advice from the UK and Irish Governments here:

· UK Government: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

· Irish Government: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/

What do you think of these suggestions? Do you have any of your own to make? Head over to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/tournamentcenterOP/ ) to discuss what efforts you are making.

We are always looking for ways to improve the support we offer to our retail network. If you have any suggestions, email us at yugioh@tournamentcenter.uk or discuss it on Facebook.

All of us here at tournamentcenter wish you, your staff, community and family the very best at this time.

Benjamin Lovell


Special thanks to Beanie Games (www.beaniegames.co.uk) and Patriot Games Sheffield (https://www.patriotgames.ltd.uk/) for their suggestions!

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