How does a store that’s been open for only a month get over 70 players at their first Invitational Qualifier? How did that impact the store running the event? I asked Jennifer Dery, tournament organizer at Comics and Gaming — Culpeper, these questions about their recent super-successful Invitational Qualifier. The Culpeper location opened up exactly one month before their first Invitational Qualifier and had more than double the average Invitational Qualifier attendance with their first event.
A large part of the reason is due to the flexibility not all organizers know about concerning the entry fees for Invitational Qualifiers. Entry is set at $25 maximum, but there is no minimum entry fee. Comics and Gaming took advantage of this and ran their first Invitational Qualifier with no entry fee. That’s right—all 74 players entered the tournament completely free of charge. When I asked Jennifer how that went, she said, “We initially expected 30-50 players and ended up with 74. The advertising reach was crazy—players came from as far as three hours away, even ones who had special events closer to them on the same day.” She added, “We got a lot of phone calls just checking on the entry fee, and on Friday night we had people asking about space and attendance caps.”
We initially expected 30-50 players and ended up with 74. The advertising reach was crazy—players came from as far as three hours away, even ones who had special events closer to them on the same day.
As far as benefitting from an Invitational Qualifier without entry fees, it definitely created new players for the shop and boosted its reputation. “Our Friday Night Magic crowd jumped about 50% the week after the IQ, and it’s been growing steadily ever since.” It can be easy to focus on trying to break even or profit just from the entry fees for a tournament, but the real profit can be made selling singles, packs, refreshments, and accessories while you have a bunch of players in your shop.
I asked Jennifer what she would recommend for someone running events in a new store. She emphasized the importance of listening to local players when planning events and that you should find out what formats they want to play and what nights work best for them. “Especially in the beginning, being accommodating is the best way to encourage people to play in your store, and this goes for more than just Magic events!” When it comes to running an event successfully, Jennifer had this to say: “Be prepared for anything. It’s easier to make plans and not need to use them than to realize half an hour before your event is supposed to start that you’re short seating for twenty players.”
Jennifer Dery is the tournament organizer for Comics and Gaming — Culpeper. You can find out more about the store on itsFacebook page. If you would like your store to be featured in this column, send an email explaining why to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your store is in the Store Spotlight, we will also send you a coupon for a FREE Swag Pack for one of your events!