Event Horizon Games may be a newer store, but already it has an impressive track record. Even before it opened its doors, owner Paul Coulter contacted StarCityGames.com about In-Store Programs in the summer of 2013.
Since then, the Raleigh, NC retailer has hosted numerous tournaments, including one of the first-ever SCG Regional Championships, and Event Horizon Games will return as a Regionals organizer for the Summer edition on August 1.
Organizing tournaments was “a primary push” for Event Horizon Games, says Coulter. “We wanted to get a foot in the door ASAP.” The SCG In-Store Programs brand, particularly Invitational Qualifiers, drew players and helped Event Horizon Games rise in the Wizards of the Coast store ranks: “We are an Advanced Plus store for WotC, and made Advanced within six weeks of opening the doors!”
Coulter credits SCG In-Store Programs for helping his store grow: “I think our sales and store growth have been attributed, in large part, to continued SCG events and their growth.” In fact, Event Horizon Games has hosted at least one SCG In-Store Program event every month since November 2013. He also says SCG ISP events have “showcased [Event Horizon Games] to MTG players that travel and play highly competitive events.” The numbers don’t lie: 309 players at the inaugural Regional Championship, 68 for a Modern IQ the same day, and 93 the next day for a 2K Elite IQ.
The inaugural Regionals were successful all over, but Event Horizon Games put in the effort to make theirs more than just a tournament by adding visits from three Magic artists.
“Customer feedback told us we should try to make our Regionals a value-added experience, so I reached out and contacted artists and agents … to bring that extra something to our event. We wanted customers and players to pick us over another venue they may have been considering, and we used that as our driving focus: not just to get them to Winter Regionals, but so that they’d pick us again and again for future events.” Coulter recommends other organizers reach out to nearby Magic illustrators: “The artists we contacted were all so professional and enthusiastic in their responses, and were great to work with.”
Things might be going his way, but Coulter is far from complacent. He says, “I’ve been gaming for well over 30 years and continue to go out of my way to visit game stores across the country whenever I can. I’m always asking other retailers to share insights and [making] an ongoing mental catalog of what I see that I like as a player. So our store is a compilation of all the best products and practices I’ve seen, plus feedback and recommendations from our customers.” He is quick to credit his staff and local Magic community for their support and humble about what he has accomplished so far: “We still struggle with being the new kid on the block in the Raleigh area as far as Magic events go, but I think we are making a dent.”