As I prep for the next few months which we hope will be very big ones for us I thought I'd pull together a history of the store. It all started in the mid 80's when a friend of my brothers came over with a copy of 'The Keep on the Borderlands'. I was pretty much immediately hooked and have played every edition since. Flash forward 20 or so years and I'd started collecting classic gaming books and collectibles essentially filling our spare bedroom.
The thing about collecting gaming books is you end up buying collections of gaming books which leads you to end up with way too many copies of the players handbook. In an effort to reduce the duplication and fund continued purchases I started selling on Amazon in mid 2017. By early 2018 I realized that I was spending an absolutely unbelievable amount of money in Amazon fees every month and Jeff Bezos already had enough money so I started my own online store (LibrisArcana.ca). The store took off more then I ever expected a hobby to do and I found myself with the reverse problem of not being able to find enough inventory. The problem with gaming books from the 80s and 90s is you can't just order a few hundred of them from a distributor so in order to keep things running I needed to come up with some new products.
Gaming accessories were an obvious product choice so I set out to solve one of the problems I had with my old books. If you've gamed for any length of time you know that the large format books just don't hold up over time as the binding gives up and falls apart. My idea was to manufacture a leather book cover that could be put on the books to protect them and strengthen the binding. Having never done anything like this before I started sending emails to random manufactures and after finding one that could make them I went ahead and launched our first kickstarter in June of 2018. I really had no idea what I was doing but thanks to a lot of luck and a very helpful factory the kickstarter went off without a hitch and the product continues to be one of our best sellers almost two years later.
About the same time in mid 2018 we realized that focusing only on Canada was missing a huge market elsewhere and ran some real dangers with currency fluctuations. The problem is a bit complex but to put it simply if you are buying products in US dollars and selling them in Canadian dollars you can get in real trouble when the currency moves. Since we make our orders a few months before the products are ready to be shipped we made the (very wise given what has happened) decision to migrate our sales into the same currency as our inventory costs. Because of this we closed the Canadian dice subscription to new signups and began the migration to the international site (LibrisArcana.com) priced in US dollars.
With one product down we moved on to manufacturing our own exclusive dice sets in Dec 2018. Our goal is always to have unique products that aren't available anywhere else as a way to set ourselves apart. That said dice are a difficult product in that in order to get them at anything resembling a reasonable cost you need to buy at minimum 500 sets and honestly 1,000 is a better choice. We managed to hit these numbers by starting a dice subscription where people sign up to get a new set each month and using a few kickstarters to bump up the volume. The dice subscription has been our best seller since pretty much the day we launched it and has become the backbone of the company. Having this predictable source of buyers has allowed us to launch five exclusive sets so far. The other benefit of the subscription model is it allows us to price the dice vastly lower then where we would need to price them if we were selling them individually. Starting in June 2020 we hope to launch a new exclusive set every month or pretty much every month going forward.
In early 2020 we launched a Metal Dice Subscription which is rapidly climbing our all time best seller list. Our goal is to follow the exact same model of building up volume with the intention of launching our own exclusive sets one day. Making metal dice is an even more costly process then plastic dice so we will need to get a fair bit larger before we take that challenge on.
As of today Apr 15th, 2020 we've now grown to the point that the company cannot reasonably continue as a sole proprietor working out of the spare bedroom with some part time help. In Feb 2020 we started working with a professional fulfillment company to outsource the packing of orders and will be migrating all orders to them in June. This will include a noticeable improvement in our packaging and free up a significant amount of time that really should be spent on growing the business. With this new found free time we are embarking on a few projects to continue to grow the business.
The first big project as we've mentioned previously is handmade dice. This is something we've wanted to do for a while if only to allow us to make and test designs much faster then waiting for a factory. Obviously if we are able to get our assembly line (aka garage) pumping out the quality and numbers we want these will become a product line on the site as well. The second big project is a significant improvement to our dice subscription targeted for late 2020. We can't give details yet as we've learned not to get peoples hopes up but if it works out it will be awesome.
Thanks for being on this ride with us we really do appreciate your support
John and Team