As I mentioned in a blog a few weeks ago, I struggled mightily to get a foot in the door for Playing Gods at the Spencer Gifts chain:
Spencer’s had all sorts of obnoxious, inappropriate crap: Kiss dolls, fart machines, Hustler-branded babydoll shirt for teens, gag gifts, dragons, incense holders, and so on. There were some games, but few if any actual board game. Still, I marched up to the bored girl behind the counter and asked who I should talk to about being included in the Spencer’s Family of Edgy Stuff. She gave me a phone number for the home office in New Jersey, so I called them a week later, and finally was told I needed to speak to a John Richard, and was given his extension.
I called Mr. Richard, but he wasn’t there, so I left a message saying hello and introducing myself and my fabulous new product that would make a mint for Spencer’s. I sent him a free copy of the game, and a Badass Buddha figure, and some stickers and cool stuff. I waited a few weeks, then called back. But he wasn’t there, so I left a message saying hello and introducing myself and my fabulous new product. A few weeks later, I called Mr. Richard, but he wasn’t there, so I left a message. Time went on, and I got busy with actually taking delivery of the games, going to Dragon*Con, sending out press releases, etc. Six months went by.
I called Mr. Richard again, but he wasn’t there, so I left a message. Three weeks later, I called Mr. Richard, but he wasn’t there. A month later, I called Mr. Richard and he shocked the shit out of me by answering the phone. Feeling like I’d captured a Bigfoot or proven psychic powers, I stumbled through a hello and introduced myself and my fabulous new product that would make a mint for Spencer’s. He said that he remembered it from some months ago, and seemed willing to listen. His main concern was that he didn’t know where exactly the game would fit in, since it’s a very niche product. It’s not rock n roll, it’s not exactly fantasy, etc. I agreed to send him more info, and another game, and he agreed to look at it. I spent about 2 hours carefully crafting an excellent letter, addressing his concerns, and sent it off.
About a month later, I called again. This time a woman answered his extension. I asked for Richard; she put me on hold, then almost immediately picked up again to tell me that he was no longer with the company. I was tempted to tell her I wasn’t surprised, but instead I explained the situation. She was very nice, said that he had left the day before, and apologized a bit. She said she would look through the stuff in his office, but I told her I’d be happy to send a new batch of material for her, another presskit and cover letter and sample game. I did so.
I am dismayed to report that, after a bit more gentle prodding, I finally got the following boilerplate rejection: “Thank you so much for sending the sample but we do not think this will fit into our assortment at this time.” Yep, there it is. After months of e-mails, letters, phone calls, three free samples, follow-ups, and reminders, I got a twenty-word version of “eff off, we don’t need your grubby little game.”
Am I surprised? No, of course not. But I was hoping that Spencer’s might be willing to take a chance and help out an indie game company that dared to put a little edge in the game. I guess not. On my Web site I have a list of stores and companies that refused to carry Playing Gods, Spencer’s will be up soon— TO THEIR EVERLASTING SHAME!! (Insert booming, menacing, echo-laden voice here).