If you have known me for any length of time you might know that I ran a Store for Games from 1974-1984 called “The Thinkers’ Emporium.” Chess, Dungeons & Dragons. wargames, fantasy, paperbacks and the like. I don’t recall whether there was a “Black Friday” in those days–I think there was. But, it was true: the sales made between that Friday and the middle of December, helped make up for several months of losses. For some companies it made up for the whole year.

The last week before Christmas (now referred to by all those who are afraid of offending anyone as “Holidays”) was iffy because it was “last minute shoppers,” people who waited too long to get Trivial Pursuit, and such. For us to reorder from our suppliers was not trivial as:

1. They may be out of product and can’t get more in time;

2. Most publishers don’t release anything before the end of the year for fear of getting stuck with overstocks;

3. The “crush” in the store allows for more shoplifting.

Funny, people could make it in on Friday but not so many on Saturday. Most of us retailers had already heard all the “stories,” excuses, fibs.

I wonder if it would have helped our sales if we related how many famous people shopped in my Game Shop (the only one for years). Especially locals such as weathermen, those who were popular directors of Shakespearean plays, Magicians seen on TV and from as far away as Chicago, and others I have forgotten. It could be busy times.

I recall one guy who NEVER believed in paying full retail, no matter what. He called on a Saturday and asked if we had any “nice” backgammon sets. I had one by Pierre Cardin or some peer of his. He wanted to know how much it was and I told him. He said he would be over later in the day, and he was.

Without any stalling or mincing around he asked for a better price than what I gave him over the phone. Finally I sold it to him for less. He was happy he screwed me down. I was happy that my real retail price (which we switched before he came over) was intact and I got it. Why do some shoppers have to be such big babies? He was making a healthy income working as an engineer at John Deere. I never did that again as I realized, “Hey, it’s what it is worth and if that isn’t good enough for you, maybe you can get one for $5 at the drugstore.”

I am happy to say my chess purchasers, in the main, aren’t like that.

Back to whether we will have a Black Friday Sale. I am guessing so. All the “books” mention all the Holidays, the non-Holidays such as “Chess Month,” and more. Do you get inspired by President’s Day? What about Arbor Day? I would if it made a difference but most chess items don’t have much profit built into them. Jewelers and furniture retailers can afford big sales because they have big built in profits. Best Buy will put on sale for a 1,000 inch LCD screen at $50 and people will fly their jet out to get one, but then Best Buy charges them $1,500 to get a gas-powered generator to run it! If they don’t, everything becomes a “worst buy.”

Yesterday Sotheby’s had a “RED” auction as a charity thing to raise money for those suffering from AIDs, TB, and Malaria world wide. It raised over $5,000,000 for the “main” items. The design work was by Marc Newsom and Apple’s Jonathan Ive. I wonder if the auctioneers were persuaded to forgo their usual 10%. The point is, there are PWM (people with money) out there who like special designs by famous people or for good charitable causes. But you have to have something, in the first place, that people want.

In “Your Morning Cup of Chess” I asked the readership to tell me what they wanted. Basically, few answers… so I will list what I think they might want to consider now and in the future for future projects.

I have not given up on ChessBase DVDs even though they don’t sell like they used to nor can most resellers afford to lose money on them by overstocking. Hence, I take orders now. One customer in the Detroit area told me what he wanted a couple weeks ago and he now already has them. They came, they went out. You can do the same. There are a number of recent ones which I will explore in “Bob’s News Letter” coming up for the month of November. If you want a subscription it is $10 for Sept.-Oct.-Nov. and Dec. By the way, again, if you buy two or more DVDs (ChessBase) and the ship to point is in the USA, you get FREE first class shipping.

I still get download copies of new software for review and I just thought of something that I think is worth retelling. About 10 years before my Dad passed away, he and I went out of town to Ft. Madison, Ia and did a little Happy Gilmore with a bucket of balls. Yep, I was pretty mediocre as I had only played golf once in my life.

When we got home he gave me a VHS tape on stance, holding the club, how to hit it, etc. And it was presented by a woman–not Sam Snead, Arnold Palmet, Jack Nicklaus or any other great. The next time we went out to hit a bucket of balls I was whacking the heck out of the ball, hitting them against the 150 yard net and over it. Dad said, “Where did you learn to hit like that?” And I said, “From that video YOU loaned me!” It was a good laugh.

Now I notice that ChessBase has a DVD out by Elisabeth Paehtz on the Sicilian titled “How to Play the Sicilian Defence!” At first I blew it off because it wasn’t by some well known Male Grandmaster but then I thought about the golf gig. Also, I had heard of Paehtz, she’s a very strong chess player in Germany and I thought, “I bet it is good and probably MORE accurate than some males would have offered.” I also remembered what Julian Wan wrote to me some years ago. “The club pro or player is often a better teacher than a famous player.” And so, I am all for Elisabeth’s work as I can easily imagine how good she had to be to even get a chance to do this! If you play the Sicilian from either side, “screw up your courage” and get this DVD.

No doubt I will have some details of this for the Black Friday event and/or issue #175 of “Bob’s News Letter.”

I am sure there will be some important announcement about chess sets at that time too. Make it a Merry Christmas/Holiday Season and do something for yourself. For years I remembered presents time and all I ever bought for ME was DVDs, and my sons gave me DVDs! Brilliant imagination eh? Well this year I have no DVDs for request. In fact, I have no idea what to do for myself. I am giving some thought to owning a side business in chess art. But everything (well, that’s an exaggeration) is being “pushed” on the web and I want to see if I can do something different than that.

Many years ago I found a supplier who could do custom work for me. I liked his work. And, I sold it but it had MY BRAND name on it since I designed it. After I started meeting price resistance to it, I quit selling them. Later, somewhere on the web, I saw him selling MY board! Now I don’t do any business with him because the “trust thing” is gone. I did politely ask him to take my board off his market site. To his credit, he did. But I do wonder if any are being sold in private.

I have an idea for an extraordinary set, enclosure (i.e., security) for professional offices and advertising it as “The best piece of furniture in the room.” Few people who are actually alive IN that office will be unable to take their eyes off of it while waiting for their financial advisor, doctor, etc. and it sure as heck will beat the art/furniture available on the walls at Kohl’s!  I ran this notion by a couple of decorator freaks and they wish they had thought of it. (By the way, I did know an interior decorator buyer from N. Carolina and Dallas who was doing a mill a year as such a buyer–and she loved that job. Wish I hadn’t lost touch with her!) If you are interested, or know someone who might want to escape lethargy, have them give me a call (contact me via:–yes I pay referral fees if they purchase.

Well, that’s my warm up story for today. And while I am at it, I want to congratulate Magnus Carlsen on becoming WC Champion. It was great to see him in St. Louis! I’ll run a picture of him in the next “Bob’s News Letter.” Subscribe today.

(Some Latin Phrase here): 

Bob Long


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