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8916 - sunday

Woke up creaking like the tin man, and my eye was aggravated by some sort of dust particle... between the swollen eye and bent over stance, I should've been ringing bells and screaming for sanctuary all morning.

Yesterday's smoothies were so terrible that we went to the grocer, got some yogurt and fruit, and BHK made some jim-dandy, extra tasty smoothies for our breakfast supplemented by hard-boiled eggs and biscuits today.

Today we went to a place that held a lot of fond memories for me as a young gamer-geek. The Compleat Strategist... There was one in Hollywood, Florida way back in the 80s... a source of many fond memories. It was a sad day about 18 years ago when it burned down... even when some supposedly smoke-damaged merchandise appeared at the new Dragon's Lair a few months later. I sometimes wonder if the "Dragon" reference was an inside joke about the fire. Rumors abounded at the time, though I don't know of any actual validity to the same.

We landed at the Strategist in Falls Church, Virginia... and... well, I've been spoiled by Aardvark, I think. I was fairly underwhelmed, even though they have a huge amount of stock... probably four or five times that of Little Aardvark's.

Nice thing about the Virginia place was that it was mostly clean - no dust on any of the good in the front, and the books were well-organized by game and title. If I'd been there looking for RPG stuff or Wargaming stuff, I'd have been set.

Unfortunately, I was looking for parlor games. The little corner in the back reminded me of the "pervy" section of old video stores. The light bulb overhead was dim, the packages heavily manhandled with cellophane and cardboard torn. The games were in semi-alpha order.... but not quite. Some stuff was on pegs, some on shelves, some boxes lay half open. I might've wept openly for the poor pente tube in the corner without a visible lid or board inside.

I can't find a thing that I want. BHK spots Treehouse and Ice Towers on the wall... I get excited, and ask about some other games, almost sure that he'll know something about one or more of these... almost all are major award winners, and have a pretty large following.

Do you have

Nope, nope and nope. We had money for a game or three more burning a hole in our pocket, and finally asked...

"OK, then... based on what we mentioned... what do you recommend? We like fun, fast-paced games with a mix of strategy and random chance. What do you have that's cute with a deck of cards and a die in it?"

The proprietor was too busy playing mechwarrior with another regular at the store to give us any more answer than "if it's not on the shelf, we don't have it..."

Not a very talkative fellow, unless he was reciting how many bonuses he had to hit the other toy robot on the board. So much for me pumping him for info regarding the old florida store or reminiscing... I suspect that the Florida CS burned down when he was maybe three years old.

That sort of disappointed us... BHK asked him about a high school clique game, and he said he'd never played it, but a guy friend did, and didn't much like it. That was the most extensive review we got from him... heck, those were the most words spoken to us at one time.

Still no other advice, so we browsed for about a half hour or so, found a few games, and noted to purchase them elsewhere. Chez Goth, Treehouse with Martian Coasters, Puerto Rico. That's like $100 or so worth of games, I'd guess. He lost the only sale it looked like he might make that day.

The best aspect of going was that we got some freebie Star Wars constructable ship-combat game as throwaway swag. We got a spare for Amy, too, for when she comes up to visit next week.

{edit - We got a response to this entry from the manager of the store, shortly after it was published. See it here}

On our way to another game store in the Virginia area, Alan rang us up, and we all went out the the Lebanese butcher for some tasty falafel, hummus with pine nutes, and baba ghanoush.

Instead of dorking around, we trundled over to his place in the city... *very* nice. Alan has a real flair for design, and his home is like a showcase... TM, BHK, and I gabbed with him for a bit about Pollack's strengths and weaknesses, including the Guggenheim dirt, and he played piano for us for a bit. He's a very talented guy, and a kind host... I'm glad to have him as part of the family.

DSCN5850

See video of him playing here

We returned home, tired but feeling good about the day - it ended a lot better than it had begun.

1 year ago - furniture, kevin smith & superman, pocket windows (note- add to new flash drive), coral square mall pictures, fin fang foom, algorithm march w/ninjas, girls on walls

2 years ago - broward and fed autostitch, visited kev, walkabout pictures with rastas and shirtless, tell-tale heart in street signs, overheard

3 years ago - spidey, weather, let them sing it for you, freddy vs gb

4 years ago - remembering the keys, overtime psa, comic books, workman's comp, prostate cancer

5 years ago - newt in sink, bro gets viper fins sponsor, pesky security, badly drawn images on a bumpy road, punquin finds my 125 item list

6 years ago - Evil News, bad joke, crux, random journals, nice thing poll, designer's lament, laptop space bar weird, hatt-baby, email plain text

7 years ago - Enjoyed the X-men movie, 1974 memory visiting Florida, reprint of Scooby & the occult, insomnia Geotarget

Comments

scottobear
Jul. 18th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
follow-up
Received this in the mail Tuesday night, not too long after posting the day's entry. It's in regards to Sunday's entry, here.

quote:'

My name is Josh S. Talley and I manage The Compleat Strategist in Falls Church, Va. Your journal entry was brought to my attention by my boss (one of the owners) after being brought to his attention by a Looney Labs representative. First off I would like to apologize to you and your friends for the lack of customer service you received (or didn't as the case may be). I would also like you to revisit us sometime soon if possible. Second please let me assure you that my employee's behavior is and always will be unacceptable to me. Third we can always try to order something if you don't see it on the shelf and are happy to do so. We have many days that are activity days, but I have always stressed that the customer is to take priority and that product knowledge is a good thing to all my employees. I am working on rectifying the situation you experienced with the one employee and am truly sorry about your visit. I think you will find that we are a nice little store if you visit again. Granted we are not as nice as some stores, but considering the lack of "gaming" space and floor space in general, I feel we've done well. Please come visit again and as an apology for your first impression of the new Strategist, I'd like to extend a discount on any purchases when we next meet. I work any day but Wednesdays and Sunday, but will most likely be working those days soon in addition, heh.

Sorry again and looking forward to another visit, hopefully,

-Josh S. Talley
Manager of The Compleat Strategist in Falls Church, Va.


My reply-

Thank you for your speedy response. I appreciate your concern and desire to make things right. (I hope you don't fire the sales guy on my account... hopefully he can be salvaged with a little customer service training.) We were pretty frustrated by the lack of salesmanship and pro-activity, given that we were actively curious and asked multiple questions about items on hand.

He wasn't obnoxiously rude, he just didn't attend to us and it felt like we were more an annoyance than a customer. I understand that a lot of your business likely comes from your events, but hopefully it wouldn't preclude sales to new arrivals.

I really liked the size of your stock, and would be happy to try again in the near future... we're still looking to pick up ice towers and treehouse (we're pretty big fans of the looney labs catalog and love to support local businesses) , as well as a few other games. A discount would be greatly appreciated!

May I reprint your letter in my livejournal? I think it would please a lot of the folks that read it to know that you are interested in running a quality establishment.

Again, many thanks for your courteous reply. I have many fond memories of the Strategist in Florida, and would really like to have another one so close by to get my gaming loot from.

His last answer -

Hello again Scott, please feel free to insert my letter into your livejournal entries. I read through the comments and would love to see more people come check us out and get a good experience from their visit. You are correct though, customers come first, no matter what. I have stressed this numerous times and some get it, some don't, but what can I do? I can lead a horse to water, but can't make it swim...heh. j/k Oh and I am pretty sure that we can order the Classic Deluxe Illuminati box set from SJ Games, just let us know. As for Brawl and any Cheapass Games we have to special order those, Cosmic Encounter was supposed to be reprinted, but I haven't seen it yet. Playing with Pyramids I would have to check on but would be happy to do so. Anyways, please come see us again anytime.
ldy
Jul. 18th, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
On the off chance this will be read...
You are correct though, customers come first, no matter what. I have stressed this numerous times and some get it, some don't, but what can I do?

Here's what you can do!
1. You can create a clear and concise Mission Statement and Vision of your store and share it with your staff
2. You can pro-actively train every week (and it would only be appropriate to use role-playing techniques)
3. You can give public praise (as well as a cash reward, if appropriate) whenever you catch someone doing something really great
4. You can base wages and bonuses on behavior and have meaningful periodic reviews
5. You can reprimand bad bahavior (my least favorite)
6. You can court awesome customer service people from other stores (in your industry, or in any other)

And my favorite:
7. You can make certain to only hire people who clearly share your values

Since you sell games, it might seem to make sense to hire game-lovers. But take a look at Scott's experience, and tell me which sounds like a better employee: someone who loves games, or someone who loves people who love games?

Not meant to be snarky or preachy, just a few thoughts that have helped me find and create better and happier employees :)

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