Hello all! It’s your friendly neighborhood friendly local game store owner Bryan here again, with some exciting news – and some reality checks!
First, we’re excited to announce that we will “reopen” on Friday in an extremely limited capacity. The updated Safer at Home order goes into effect, and with it comes new allowances for “nonessential” business like I’m Board to offer contactless curbside pickup and delivery, which is great! But with that comes a new set of challenges. Customers are not allowed into the store to browse, which makes things a bit difficult for a retail store. And we recently learned that taking a phone request to describe every puzzle in stock is a bit… unrealistic. 🙂
So we’re opening an online portal! It will go live on Friday (maybe sooner) to let you browse and shop the store, reserve items in a shopping cart, and send that cart to us. Just like your typical online shopping experience. Mostly.
Here Come the Caveats!
The online store was set up in the quickest way possible, which means it is also a bit inefficient. It contains just about every product we’ve ever sold, and that means there is a lot of stuff listed that is out of print and no longer available.
It is also highly lacking in a lot of those online shopping presumptions we all take for granted: like product images and descriptions! We are working diligently to add those (with an initial emphasis on adding pictures to popular items we have in stock). Further, some item names may look like they are in a type of shorthand, or truncated – this is due to a legacy issue with our old system that allowed a limited number of characters in an item name. Our internal naming conventions are now available for everyone to see! Oh no! 🙂
We are working hard to rectify all these items as quickly as possible, and we thank you for your patience as we make this transition. Don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions (starting Friday). And of course you are not limited to shopping via the online portal – you are always welcome to call your local store and an I’m Board staffer will be happy to help you!
- Middleton: (608) 831-6631
- Sun Prairie: (608) 318-2642
We’ll Have New Store Hours
We currently won’t need to be on-sight as much as when customers could come in a browse. But we need staff to process inventory going in and out of the store, and take phone calls. And we need availability for customers to come pick up their items! As of right now, here are our new hours at both stores. These may change as we monitor demand and bandwidth:
- Tuesday through Saturday: 12:00pm to 6:00pm
- Sunday and Monday: Closed
Online Stock Should be Mostly Accurate, But Will Not be Perfect.
The online inventory is tied to our in-store systems. Online “purchases” should update inventory numbers across all systems. However, there may be instances where the online portal is displaying incorrect stock amounts (it may think we have an item in stock when we actually do not). Sometimes this may be due to stock already being held for another customer, or it may simply be an inadvertent error. We will confirm stock status before we contact you, and we apologize if any online stock is inaccurate. If items are not in stock, we can let you know how soon we think they will be back in stock and contact you when they are available again.
We will also have a new form that you can use to create a special order for any item that you cannot find, or that we list as out of stock. And heck, you can even use it to request preorders.
This is Not Mail Order
You will conduct your ordering like any online shopping experience, but instead of actually buying, you are effectively creating and sending us a cart of items that will hold your items until we can process them for you directly.
- You will see “Free shipping” as you process your order, but orders will not be shipped.
- You will not be charged when you complete your order, but your items will be held as “purchased” by you.
Once we receive your order, we will pick the order, confirm items are in stock, and contact you to collect payment information and pickup/delivery details. Sometimes items may be spread between both stores, requiring some transfers (I will be doing a lot of driving). Please ensure the phone number you give us is accurate and your voicemail is working. Also note our current hours of operation above, and allow us time to process. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
But at the moment, we do not have the capacity to properly ship products.
Receiving Your Items
We will have two options for you to receive your items. Again note that at the moment we do not have the capacity to ship orders.
Curbside pickup is available at both locations during our new hours listed above. Once we have contacted you and finalized your order, it will be ready for pickup. When you arrive at the store, you will call the store and we will place the items on a table outside the door for you to pick up. Please stay a safe 6-foot distance from the door, and other shoppers, as we deliver them to the table. Once the door is closed, you may collect your items. You may not enter the store, and staff may not physically hand items to you, nor deliver items to your car.
Free Home Delivery
For those who wish to have their games delivered to your home, we are again offering free limited home delivery. We ask that you only use this service if you truly are not able to travel to us for curbside delivery. A minimum purchase of $40 is required. Currently we are able to deliver games to the following areas:
- Cottage Grove
- Sun Prairie
When we contact you to finalize your order, we will also gather delivery information and deliver your items as soon as possible. Games purchased before 2pm will be delivered same-day if at all possible, but please understand this will depend on the relative demand and availability of staff. When we arrive with your game, we will place the item near your front door (or other designated area) and ring the doorbell to let you know it has arrived. For the safety of our staff, we will deliver items to your front door, porch, or outside your apartment building. We will not enter any building.
Finally, the Current State of Product Availability is Not Exceptional
This is where I am going to try and manage expectations.
We are faced with several new challenges in simply being able to restock the store. We have major suppliers that are currently shut down. The entirety of Asmodee’s game catalog (which incoudes Fantasy Flight, Plain Hat, Catan, Z-Man, and others) is coming from a single warehouse in Georgia, and we are limited in how much we can purchase each week, so they can stay ahead of demand. Where once we were able to get many restocks in as little as a day, now we are looking at potentially much longer.
Most game companies have delayed the launch of their new releases. Some are not shipping product at all. Games Workshop, for example, remains entirely shut down worldwide.
Many popular games are out of print and new shipments are not expected for weeks or even months.
And puzzles? There are no puzzles. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but only a bit. Puzzles have never been in higher demand. Some major puzzle companies are not taking orders at the moment – they have nothing to sell. Others are weeks behind in fulfillment and very limited inventory. We have several puzzle orders outstanding with several publishers, and we hope they will arrive in a steady stream. The excellent thing about the new online portal is we will have automated lists that will show you exactly what is in stock at any one time.
So, we have limited hours, limited capability to let you browse, and limited ability to restock. But we’re open! 🙂
Thank you again for your patronage, and thank you for the opportunity to deliver quality fun in a time when it is sorely needed.