Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Days Of Knights Part 2

Small-scale EpicImage by 0olong via Flickr

Initially, Corradin, an alum of the University of Delaware, had difficulty finding people who shared his passion for D&D. He met fellow gamer Dan Farrow and found a new group of players. However, their resources were limited.

“I met a few people who were playing,” Corradin said. “But the problem was, they didn’t know where to buy from.”

Eventually, they discovered Punching Judy, a store that mostly sold puppets on Main Street. The retailer carried dice and a couple games, but it was not enough to satisfy the gamers.

“The demand for the stuff was outgrowing their willingness to bring in more stuff,” Corradin said.

This lack of supplies helped give birth to The Days of Knights, which first opened almost 30 years ago in the mini-mall where the Delaware Book Exchange is now. His friend Lee McCormick, who was unemployed and raising a family, called Corradin and expressed an interest in opening a business. McCormick picked the name of the store and Corradin decided to invest in the store while continuing to be a teacher.

The Days of Knights, currently located on 173 E. Main St. in Newark, is unlike the bars and clothing retailers on Main Street. After passing through its brick, fortress-like exterior, visitors enter a different world where mystical beings exist and they can take on multiple fantasy personas. The store hosts numerous game tournaments, whether for D&D or Magic: The Gathering, a role-playing card game. The merchandise is not for the faint of heart — a level of seriousness is required for the games and a sign even reads, “Shoplifters will be executed” in big, bold red letters.

The Days of Knights is truly a gamer’s paradise with its abundance of figurines, games and collectables. Custom chess sets, fragile “The Lord of the Rings” figurines and several posters of dragons give the store its imaginative appeal. A room tucked away in back of the store sells used board games that resurrect childhood memories.

The Days of Knights, however, did not always have such a superfluous amount of merchandise and strong customer base.

“There weren’t enough customers,” Corradin said. “I had some long talks with Lee and it turned out the real problem was we just didn’t have enough merchandise.”

Due to its rocky start, Corradin decided to take a leave of absence from his occupation and focus on the store.

“I didn’t want to kiss it goodbye without a fighting effort,” he said.

In addition to Selling games Days of Knights provides a location to play and enjoy their products

Corradin was able to make a deal with a distributor, Alliance, so he could get a line of credit and offer a steady supply of games. He still does business with Alliance because it contributed to The Days of Knight’s success.

Corradin said the store gets its merchandise from multiple distributors both near and far within the adventure gaming industry. He also welcomes locals who wish to sell their items.

“I have dice towers that some guy in Newark built for me and sold them to me and now I sell them here,” Corradin said. “I try to support anybody who makes anything that’s cool and fits my store.”

He said that a new aspect of the industry is an intermediary, or fulfillment house, between the producers of a product and the distributors. This eliminates distributors’ stress of having many companies with which to interact.

Corradin is content with his decision to open The Days of Knights in Newark. He said that his customer base consists of both the local and campus community, which gives him a great cultural spectrum. Corradin is also involved with the town and he said he was named "Volunteer of the Year" at one time. He said the store's success is reliant on several factors, one of them being the attention it gives to its female clientele.

"One of the founding philosophies of the store and one of the reasons I attribute to why we're still here after all these years is that a lot of other gaming stores you go in, the mom, girlfriend or significant other can't wait to get out," Corradin said.

The Days of Knights carries crafts, jewelry and other products that he said interests women. Despite the constant flow of crazes within the industry, he said the store's role-playing-related sales have never waivered. And although The Days of Knights is different from other retailers in the area, its main competitors are online companies.

"But the difference I try to tell people about is that when you buy something online, there's different problems in terms of mailing and not getting it right away," Corradin said. "But also you don't know much about it."

He said that his experienced employees can give advice about the products that online retailers can not offer.

Corradin said what lies ahead for The Days of Knights are computer-based games, since that is the direction that the industry is heading. He remains hopeful about the company and its ability to satisfy gamers' needs.

"We're continuing to move into the future," Corradin said. "So there's no reason we can't be here for 25 more years."

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