An Honor from Wizards of the Coast
We're very happy to announce that we have received the Wizards Play Network (WPN) Premium designation – a title held by some of the best gaming stores around the world! We're extremely thrilled and honored to receive this recognition from Wizards of the Coast, the company behind treasured games including Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons.
Beyond the award, we're looking forward to all the opportunities we'll have to continue to refine our shoppe and create an even better experience for all of our guests.
How This All Started
In March of 2019, Wizards of the Coasts introduced a new WPN program as “a public recognition of the best stores in the world, and a way for Wizards to support them in a way that equals their contribution to the Magic community.”
There were a lot of awesome benefits to the program, but what interested us most was the Quality Checklist they created.
We appreciated the checklist for two reasons. Most importantly, the list is full of positive things that all our guests would benefit from – good lighting, professional staff, a welcoming environment, etc. Beyond that, it aligned with our values and the store improvements we already planned to implement.
Seeing the list published by Wizards of the Coast was validating and we felt that, even if we never achieved the designation, it was worth pursuing.
Our Road to Premium
We shared the list with our staff back in 2019. The plan at the time was to simply use the list as a tool for self evaluation and improve on everything possible. We had no timeline in mind. To be cliché, it wasn't about the goal, it was about the journey.
The checklist became something we reviewed regularly as we began making improvements. We upgraded basic features of the shoppe, reorganized our layout, and created our Apothecary Room.
Some checkboxes kind of snowballed on us. For example, there's one that reads:
Trash bins: high-quality, emptied often
And so we thought about that and realized we needed to figure out a way to bring a recycling option into the shoppe. That lead to working with our Venture Crew 20 to create a sustainable plan to gathering our recyclable materials and get them handled. For those unaware, our building does not have a recycling service currently. To implement a commercial one in our space would require installing a commercial dumpster and building an appropriate enclosure for it. So, some checkboxes that might have been solved in a day or two took a bit longer to implement.
Another case in point: while it's not anywhere on the list, David has always disliked our toilet roll dispensers, and has spent idle hours over the last five years looking for ones he thought would really work for the store. He thought he found a good solution in 2016, but they ended up being less durable than necessary. Finally, in the midst of 2020, he found what he was looking for.
Yes, David was so excited about this that he took this picture and sent it to everyone on the staff the moment it was installed. You can even still see the powder from the drill work, because he didn't even bother cleaning it up before taking the picture.
We're not suggesting that was a healthy obsession, by the way, but it paints a picture of some of the details we consider as we level up the shoppe. And, of course, it didn't stop there. Our makeshift bathroom closet was replaced with a tasteful armoire. Our plastic bins for terrain are now neatly stored in period-specific trunks and chests so rather than being a distraction, they're becoming set pieces that help bring out the character of the shoppe.
For Our Magic Players
For our Magic Players, the Premium designation means we'll be able to provide exclusive products, like the all foil premium version of the Commander Collection: Green set that releases later this year.
It also means that you can expect all of our Staff to be ready to teach Magic: The Gathering to new players, and help them get connected to our local Magic community in meaningful ways.
And you'll be seeing more events available through our Discord community, including our just-launched October Fools Participation Challenge. This free, month-long event celebrates all the ways we're playing Magic right now, and one lucky participant could walk away with our sole copy of the April Fools Secret Lair in a drawing we'll be holding on Halloween!
For All Our Guests
In addition to the specific benefits for Magic players, the WPN Premium program helps us stay on our toes across all the services we offer – from the way our staff engage with guests as they enter the shoppe, to the way we display our products to make sure everything is neat and organized.
As part of the evaluation process, we submitted a video walkthrough of our shoppe. The Wizards specialists reviewed seemingly every frame of the video to offer suggestions on improvements. From spotting marks on the furnishings to misplaced product on shelves, they brought a fresh perspective and gave us a very thoughtful and thorough review.
One of the most exciting features of the program is their Secret Shopper reviews. Wizards of the Coast will be sending Secret Shoppers to our store to evaluate everything from staff engagement to cleanliness. These reports will be shared with us, so we can continually improve. While we know they're not currently sending folks out (due to the ongoing health situation), we're increasing our staff training and focusing on keeping the shoppe in tip-top shape for everyone.
As we said at the beginning of this post, it's an honor to be named a WPN Premium store, and we couldn't be happier about it. For us, this is just the beginning. We have lots of improvements planned and we're looking forward to continuing our evolution as a shoppe.
If you have suggestions on what we can do to improve your experience in the store, please let us know. While we can't implement every suggestion we receive, we take them all to heart and do everything we can to make Meeple Madness a destination worth visiting.