We’re Changing Things Up This Year
Wow, 2024 will be Knave of Cups’ 3rd year in business. We can hardly believe it. It’s been incredibly gratifying to go on this journey of zines and trinkets with y’all, and there’s more yet to come.
We’re looking forward to 2024 both in terms of continuing to curate and share all sorts of game-related goodies, and in terms of how we can grow and continue to reach out and connect with new customers and new creators.
But 2023 was hard for a lot of businesses, us included. We were able to end the year on a high note, but we also knew we needed to take a step back and re-evaluate how we were doing business. We had conversations about what had been working and not working for us, and this post is us sharing some of the conclusions we came to.
Replacing Monthly Drops with Surprise Drops
The biggest change to how Knave of Cups operates going forward is that we’re not going to be doing regular monthly drops anymore. The monthly schedule was exciting and let folks know what to expect, but they ended up putting a lot of pressure on our time and finances. We felt the need to schedule our personal lives around these drops in order to keep the system running and not let the hype drop, and we spent a fair amount of money trying to make sure every monthly drop was packed to the gills with all the cool stuff we could get our hands on so we could keep bringing people back to our shop.
This year, we’ll be trying out surprise drops instead of monthly ones. There still will be several drops a year, maybe ALMOST monthly, but we’re not going to commit to a regular recurring schedule anymore. We’ll drop new products in the shop when we’re ready, and we’ll let folks know about a week in advance via our mailing list and social media.
Our first surprise drop of the year is today, January 12th! So if you’re reading this, chances are we have new things in the shop, like these cool thematic marble mazes from DougFactory!
New Projects And Collaborations In The Works
We’re still working on finding new projects we can collaborate with other creators on! If anything, we hope that some of these changes will give more time to make the connections that make Knave of Cups special to us!
Soul Operator Season 1
One collaboration that sorta fell into our lap is our sponsorship of Season 1 of Soul Operator! If you haven’t heard us talk about it already, (we’re very excited,) Soul Operator is a new podcast focused on solo roleplaying that blends dramatic narrative and TTRPG actual play, and Season 1 is an adaptation of Welcome to the Habitrails, a solo tarot game by KoC co-founder and yours truly!
We love the concept of Soul Operator, and not just because it features a game I wrote. We’ve always felt that solo journaling games make excellent writing and collaboration tools and this podcast really runs with that idea. We hope you listen, we know we will be!
The WorldBuilder’s Almanac
Last year we worked with TTRPG creator S. Kaiya J. to create a new physical edition of her solo game Her Odyssey. It was a great process and we found we really clicked, so this year I’ve been helping with illustrations for Kaiya’s new upcoming book: The WorldBuilder’s Almanac. It’s another cool game-adjacent project that we think is a great fit for us. More details to come, so give the project a follow on Kickstarter to be notified when it launches!
Vending Machine and In-Person Events
Last year we were lucky to be able to work with TPKBrewing here in Portland, OR to install a vending machine in their main room full of dice, zines, and a smattering of regularly-updated treasures from our store! This has been a great experience so far, and we’re looking forward to continuing to stock this machine with all sorts of wondrous goodies!
We also made it to a few in-person events last summer, at Wonderwood Springs and Book with Pictures, selling our wares out of a tent in the fresh air! These were also great, and we plan to do more of these local events this year starting in the spring!
Importantly though, we’ve learned that the treasures that sell well in-person and in our machine are not necessarily the same that sell well through our online shop! That just means that now we’re doing a bit of a balancing act when we stock our shop, as we’re buying products for both local and online audiences. As much as possible, we want products that we can stock in our machine (or at events) to be able to be sold in the online shop (and vice versa).
This means you’ll might notice a slightly different selection of goods available from us than in the past. For example, we’ve added a category for puzzles, and we’ve also added delightful little toys like Major Tomcat! We’ve always seen ourselves as a hybrid between a gift shop and a traditional games store, and we also still have dreams of a brick and mortar Knave of Cups one day, so these changes bring us a little closer to our ideal vision for the shop.
Focusing Our Efforts
A challenge we found last year is that… well, there just are SO MANY games being released all the time. I don’t think this is a new thing, but it’s something that really became clear to us last year. It’s just part of roleplaying games being a niche hobby currently supported mostly by Patreon subscriptions and crowdfunding. It has been really challenging as a retail outlet trying to stretch our limited budget to carry as many games as we can, and even more challenging trying to predict what games will actually sell for us.
Ultimately, we just realized we can’t carry every game even if it seems like we should. Our goal for 2024 is to focus more clearly on games that really work for us in the shop. In particular, right now that means small-form (A6ish) games, solo games, non-traditional and GMless roleplaying games, and self-contained game zines.
That’s not to say that’s the only kind of game we’ll ever carry, (in fact we’ll also be adding a few board games to the shop in the future,) but those are the sort of games we’re going to be spending most of our efforts and budget on, and other games might fall into our lap or they might not.
We’re looking forward to 2024!
Well, that’s the situation around here! Another long post from us, but hopefully if you read all this you’re as excited for the new year as we are! (Except of course, like, geopolitically. That part of 2024 is gonna suck bad.)