Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer our recent customer survey. It was great to see such a wide range of ideas across a lot of different areas of the store and you can expect to see some changes soon (in fact, a couple like the new Vallejo stand have already happened). If you missed out on the survey this time don’t worry as there will be further chances to give your feedback in the future.
Due to the varieties of fields covered and the range of requests, we have decided to split our responses to some of the items across three different blog posts, one will focus on products , one will focus on events and this one will focus on the building.
Several responses discussed improvements customers would like to see made to the building so this seemed a good time to discuss some of the reasoning behind its development. Before we opened the store we did some research in the UK and also a limited amount in Europe (albeit from a Magic the Gathering related viewpoint). The stores we visited had very limited or sometimes non-existent play space so if they wanted to hold any tournaments they often had to use the back rooms of pubs. On one occasion the room in question had black painted walls the windows were obscured with paint and the limited number of wall lights didn’t provide sufficient light to be able to read one’s opponent’s cards. The other problem that we encountered almost universally was the poor provision of toilet facilities, most shops did not have a customer toilet and so if lucky one was able to use a staff toilet which was normally a single cubicle unisex toilet, which were sometimes filthy. One ProTour Qualifier we attended had about 300 entrants in an event over probably 8-10 hours and it had two to three cubicles which involved wading within a couple of hours of the event starting. The shop or venues also normally didn’t have any drinks or snacks, or when the event was in a pub there were drinks and food but sometimes expensive.
So, when we started at Bank Street the venue had two separate toilets and what we thought was a reasonable amount of playspace for a shop compared with what we’d seen on our travels. This is the counter area in the very early days.
It soon became apparent that we had underestimated space needed for tournaments. So, started the search for somewhere bigger and St Gregory’s Alley seem to fit the bill. The architect who drew up plans for the building and was able to see its initial state said that we should consider the building ‘a 15-year project’, which is probably not too far off what is realistically required. Our initial drive has been to get the inside of the building to function as well as possible for tournaments and retail space whilst trying to make the fabric of the building secure and watertight. Obviously, there is a certain amount of juggling involved in a project of this size particularly as retail has been going through a very tough time recently. It would be wonderful to have unlimited budgets to spend on decor and new washrooms, but that is not the reality. We have managed to replace one large area of flat roof and the pitched roofs at the front of the building so far. Our next major project will be the pitched roof over the tournament floors. It is certainly not worth undertaking any major improvement projects within the building until we can be sure that the fabric of the building is waterproof.
For anyone who didn’t know what the inside of the building looked like before we started this is a photo of the downstairs, the photo makes it look lighter than it seemed.