Monday, 21 April 2014

Games Workshop Shops Why Do They Even Bother?

Been to Worcester today since it's the Bank Holiday and the weather was nice.

Worcester is the sort of picturesque town (yeah, I know it's technically a city but calling it a city gives entirely the wrong mental picture) with half-timbered buildings and loads of shops that gets Midlanders saying "it's a Bank Holiday and the weather is nice, let's have a lazy day out in Worcester". So the place was full of tourists milling around and browsing the many shops, of which  Worcester has a number all out of keeping with it's size and importance. Lots of families, lots of young kids.

You run a shop in Worcester, you keep it open on Bank Holidays and summery Sundays. Mana Leak was open, Videodrome was open.

So, of course, Games Workshop was shut.

I know that GWs have recently started adopting pointless opening hours more in keeping with a second-hand bookshop run by somebody who is disinterested in actually selling books and seeing customers but to keep a glorified toy shop shut on a major shopping/tourism day in a town in which much of the Midlands decamps to on that day? What?

I checked their opening hours on Facebook. Apparently they weren't open on Bank Holiday Monday because they don't open Mondays. Or Tuesdays. So they are only open five days a week. And the opening hours of the other days don't show any consistency either with 1100 to 1700 on Wednesday and Thursday (i.e. shutting as people finish work), 1200 to 2000 on Friday, 1000 to 1800 on Saturday and 1100-1700 on Sunday.

(That latter is something that annoys me about Sunday Opening Hours in England and Wales. The original 1990s post-Sunday Trading Bill standard of 10-4 seems to be tweaked to 11-5 in some places creating a big endian/little endian issue whereby you never really know when a shop will open or close and you get turned away from Tescos Burnt Tree by security staff at five to four on a Sunday because you thought you had a hour to do your shopping. Standardisation eh?)

These are not the hours of a major high street retail chain. These are the hours of a tiny one-man band business that can't get the staff in to cover.

This isn't a criticism of the staff or management of GW Worcester as frankly all GWs seem to be going that way. GW Birmingham doesn't open on Tuesday or Wednesday! It's clearly a problem of trying to run shops on inadequate numbers of staff in the interests of skimping on costs. But both those shops (Brum and Worcester) are in excellent positions in the centre of large shopping areas (presumably not cheap) and if you have to leave both fallow for two weekdays each and every week and can't respond to busy shopping days that fall in this 48 hour period, what the fucking fuck are you doing trying to run shops Workshop?


  1. I had a pretty similar rant a while back with some of my gaming group, it just seems like madness to be frank.

    I've had times where I've forgotten the local stores are closed Monday/Tuesday and turned up to be disappointed, then having other people walk up beside me and be like "Bugger... I keep forgetting they have stupid opening hours now...".

    I asked the old manager of the Bradford store why it was that way and he said because it was a one man store and he legally has to have two days off. I agreed on that point and then asked why the Leeds store which has three staff members has exactly the same opening hours and he went "errrrrrrrrr....... dunno....".

    I am mystified why they would close stores when they can and do have people just turning up to throw cash at them...

    1. Admittedly I only wanted two pots of paint which is hardly going to make much difference to their bottom line. What I fail to understand about them is that they seemed wedded to their concept of high street shops and will probably cling to it limpet-like as it takes them down, but regard the whole thing as a serious cost and so skimp on it and don't want to do it properly. I simply cannot understand the thinking. It goes beyond mere half-hearted opening hours and into the realms of "why are you doing this if you can't/won't do it properly?"

  2. The only slightly sane answer (outside of staffing limitations) is they believe they are effectively a monopoly with a customer base beating down the doors to buy product. Is there somewhere else to go to get the same or similar product ?

    1. Worcester has two shops selling a lot of CCGs and Eurogames (the two linked above). Birmingham has another shop (Waylands Forge) which shifts a lot of GW product at a small discount, although I have it on good authority that they'd been doing this for 12 months before GW Birmingham found out there was a GW specialist within a mile of their front door, and only then by complete accident!

  3. Completely agree. To add to the madness, selling White Dwarf weekly only in GW/affiliated stores seemed liked a minor stroke of genius: Get folks to come into the shop on a weekly basis, encouraging them to part with cash...but then yer closed two days a week? Maybe by being closed on a bank holiday they're trying to recreate that retro 80s vibe for us...

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  5. My local GW has the following opening hours:

    Mon - Tue: 11:00 - 18:00
    Fri: 11:00 - 18:00
    Sat - Sun: 10:00 - 18:00

    So there you go, you can just pop down to Brighton when your local is shut to pick up your paints. Simple.

  6. GWs marketing strategy is run by an unpaid intern on a gap year.

  7. As a Yank living in the UK long-term, I have to confess that even shutting at 6 seems nuts. Most US businesses see the value of being open precisely when people are not at work for as long as possible. I guess UK hours are more humane to employees, though. Our local game shop will stay open till 10 or so if they get enough people chipping in £2 to use the gaming room.

    "a second-hand bookshop run by somebody who is disinterested in actually selling books and seeing customers"

    Any particular TV series in mind there? :)

    1. I'm still in the US, and the one GW store in my area has the following hours:
      Wed - Thu: 2:00 pm - 8:00 pm
      Fri - Sat: 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm
      Sun: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
      Very little of that makes sense to me, but that's consistent with my impression of the way GW has been doing things for more than ten years.

  8. I think I see the diabolical plan behind these strange opening times - perhaps it ensures that at any moment there is a GW open somewhere in the world. The sun never sets on the Evil Empire and all that..

  9. I'm pretty sure GW would prefer you did your actual shopping online - it's cheaper in terms of staffing costs and easier to handle stock.

    The purpose of the actual stores is to get people (preferably non-customers) in and gaming. That being the case, there is very little purpose them being open during the day on weekdays, when their target market are at school (in theory).

    But they really should look into being open from about 3pm until as late as possible on weekdays, and as much of the weekends as possible. And they should definitely be open on Bank Holiday Mondays, for the exact reason you give.

  10. I went to the one in Worcester the other week (now College Street) and they were closed for lunch. An Hour !!! I wonder if they make any money at all?