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Boardgames Cafe

It’s an idea that’s been going round in my head lately after finding out about a boardgame cafe in Toronto, Canada. It’s called Snakes and Lattes and it’s a cafe with a collection of over 2.000 games which people can choose from to play.

The business plan is quite optimistic and aggressive as they charge CAD5 (EUR3.9) per adult and CAD2.5 (EUR1.95) per child. That’s on top of anything you drink or eat. That sounds quite a lot but it makes sense because you need to make sure you can cover the wear and tear of all these games. The cafe of course organises special game nights and also has recommendations for games of the week. It also sells a limited number of boardgames but i don’t think that’s an important revenue source. It mostly complements the service offered there and it provides the opportunity for people to try out different games and if they prove such a hit to be bought on the spot.

Snakes and Lattes first opened its doors in 2010 so it seems that its approach is working so far. Would an idea like that work in Cyprus? I don’t know. Because you are not only catering to a very small market (Toronto>Nicosia) but also a very immature market where board games are concerned. There are some cafes that cater to the pilota lovers or the occasional Taboo game but they don’t charge anything extra. So as far business plans are concerned these are just regular cafes.

By charging extra, let’s say EUR4 per adult you will have to compete with other forms of entertainment such as movies which cost EUR8 or going out for a drink. This means that it will be difficult to convince people that it’s worth paying for, especially now that everyone is a lot more cost conscious. Also, people are not aware of most of these games so you need to overcome the barrier of not only the idea of boardgames but also the learning curve of the individual board game. So, you will need to have someone there available to explain the rules of games to people that want to play. It’s actually something that Snakes and Lattes does but i am not sure to what extent.

So, to summarize:

  • Small market for a niche service/product
  • Even though you offering something unique you will still be compared to a highly competitive cafe market
  • Immature board games market
  • Expensive when compared to regular cafes and comparable to other night out options.

It does not look promising.

As it is highly unlikely that there will be enough people for 5-7 days a week what one could do is have the cafe open only on weekends and maybe on public holidays. At the same time though costs will need to be covered regardless of the number of days the cafe is operating e.g. rent.

It looks like a dead end, but maybe someone will pick up the idea and go for it. There is definitely no demand right now for such a place but could it be created?


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