Feb 022009

Okay, so I’m a lame-o blogger. I never said I’d be banging out one of these every day!

Big news is that Playing Gods: The Board Game of Divine Domination will be represented at the prestigious New York Toy Fair (February 15 to 18 in the Big Apple). How did I manage to sneak in my nasty little independent counter-culture satire of religious warfare? Who ever would have thought that Playing Gods might be displayed right along with (if not right next to) the newest edition of Monopoly? (I think Parker Bros. just came out with Recession Monopoly. It’s just like regular Monopoly except that there’s no money and all the little green houses have “FORECLOSURE” written on them.) Well, I don’t want to give away my secrets just yet, and I don’t want to stir the pot too much before the Toy Fair starts, but I’ll disclose more soon.

The United Kingdom launch was a modest success; so far I haven’t gotten any publicity from a press release I spent six hours perfecting last week, but hopefully something will come of it soon. I did get a mention in a Reuters blog (http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2009/01/28/a-religion-board-game-satire-or-scandal/), so the eight hours I spent on that paid off.

Last blog I promised to share some money-saving tips with other small (very small) business entrepreneurs. I don’t know if this is terribly insightful, but one way to cut costs is to be creative in terms of what you need to conduct your business. For example, the first few months I shipped out cases of games, putting packing peanuts in the box to cushion the load. I could have just sent the cases out as-is, but the quality of the cardboard the games came in was unimpressive. It wasn’t worthless, but certainly the cheapest possible boxes they could have used. Wary of sending out boxes with games that might get damaged in transit (and therefore might come back as damaged returns), I chose the more expensive option of getting 2-foot cube boxes. This was a good choice, I believe, as I have not had any damaged returns (yet), but it did mean I needed packing materials. After the packing peanuts proved to be messy (try packing a box outside a storage unit on a windy day), I thought I’d try a 4 foot roll of brown kraft paper. That could be wadded to cushion the cases inside the larger box, but, being heavy and needing to be unrolled, it was unweildy. I looked in office supply catalogs for devices that would dispense the stuff (more or less like a paper towel or toilet paper roll), but they cost several hundred dollars. I thought about simply jerry-rigging it with a metal rod through the middle, supported by boxes on either end, but that didn’t seem very stable, and plus it ate up a lot of horizontal space in the small storage area. After more thought I realized it was best if it remained upright, taking up little space, but how? Maybe I could build a large wooden spool that would hold it in place? But then I’d still have to pull the paper, and the weight would make it hard to move.

Finally I realized I needed something that would allow the kraft paper to revolve in place, such as a platform on ball-bearings. I looked around, but didn’t see much until, on a hunch, I went into a Goodwill store and found a wooden lazy susan in fine condition for three dollars. I took it to the storage and put it under the kraft paper, and it worked like a charm. I could have spent nearly $300 on an industrial device that would do it, but al it took was $3 and some creativity. You could probably do the same by taking a fresh look at what you use, and if you decide you need some new equipment, see if you can MacGuyer it yourself.

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