Couple spots gap in board game market

By Gill South


Many Kiwis have a side business which they hope will one day be a fulltime job but they can get a lot of enjoyment out of their home business along the way.

For David and Angie Taylor, owners of SeriouslyBoard.co.nz, the online board games retailer, their day jobs are as operations officer in a shipping company and occupational therapist.

When the couple first moved to Tauranga a few years ago they thought they would set up a business to supplement their income.

"The reason we chose selling games was because we had a real passion about them," says David.

They also saw a gap in the market.

"We saw how expensive games were to buy in stores," he says. "We don't have property overheads, we can reduce the price for our customers."

They sell mid-range games at a $20 or $30 discount to game stores. And the hobby is a growing one.

"Board games are played by adults, couples and families - it's no longer seen as purely a child's hobby.

It's all around having social interaction," Angie says.

Bestseller Pandemic is a co-operative game, where players work as a team. Other Seriously Board bestsellers include Dominion, Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan. For those who find it hard to leave a computer behind, they can play board games such as Ticket to Ride online with friends.

People are becoming more aware that board games have changed from being a classic luck game to more strategic eurogames.

"Germany is where this board game revolution has come from, there are so many games out there now," David says.

When they first launched the business in June 2009, the Taylors got the word out through the international web community on www.boardgamegeek.com which has reviews and forums on board games. They had become involved with the numerous discussion forums on the website and the dedicated New Zealand gamers they met through the website are an important customer base for Seriously Board.

Regular board game players in this country are "likely in their thousands", he says.

The Taylors' focus has been to have regular contact with customers. They have a Facebook page, a news blog on the website and publish interviews with game designers.

"We try to keep it quite personal, so we are not a faceless business," David says. "You've got to do some things that set you apart.

"For us its interviews about board games with international designers. It's about being really interactive with the board gaming community."

The online retailer supports the national gaming scene by play-testing game prototypes and sponsoring conventions like Wellycon and Kapcon.

Seriously Board is running three weekend events in the next few months to meet board game enthusiasts and newcomers.

Board Games By The Bay will run in St Heliers over July 21-22, then Tauranga in September and Hamilton in November. The couple would be keen to go fulltime but that's a distance away.

"In an ideal world it would be fantastic," David says. "We think realistically it could become a part-time job."

At the moment David gets home from work at 5.30pm and starts on Seriously Board at about 7.30, trying to stop by 11.

The business is building this year.

"We are up about half on last year," he says. "In 2009 we were throwing lots of money at it, the second year we were in a holding pattern and now it is helping us buy milk and petrol."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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