Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
Art of Play was an idea my younger brothers had been sitting on for years. They are magicians with a successful business of their own, dananddave.com. Playing cards, an integral part of their craft had been a passion of theirs since they were kids, and they had sorta turned it into a giant collectors marketplace. They didn't necessarily want their own brand to become overtaken by playing cards, but I had been going through a tough phase in life, so I moved down to San Diego where the three of us started Art of Play. We launched at one of the biggest magic conferences in Las Vegas in September 2013. Two years later it's become a full time job. We work closely with the US Playing Card Co. to print our own line of custom playing cards. We also source unique decks and offer a curated collection in our shop.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Playing cards don't last forever. In fact, I remember my brothers going to Costco as kids and buying decks by the dozens. They must have opened a new deck every few days. They are, after all, handling them 24/7. A practicing magician will go through a lot more decks than a professional and a cardist (a person who performs cardistry) likes to uses different decks for different card flourishes. Then there's the whole collectors market and finally the game industry. We sell to all types including the designers and artists out there just looking to have a fun deck of playing cards around the studio. We're thankful in that we have regular customers who continually buy from us. We also advertise across the internet but have found we get the most traffic from Instagram. We can literally see a decline in sales when we don't post a new photo at our scheduled times.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Mailchimp for newsletters, ShipStation for fulfillment and Orankl for customer reviews are just a few of the apps we use. We have our Shopify connected to ShipStation. I handle all the shipping and fulfillment personally.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
I think it helps that I totally love what I do every day. I love working with my two brothers and brainstorming new product or ways to improve. It's the most rewarding job on the planet. Being in a niche market gives us the flexibility to really make one-on-one relationships. I have become familiar with regular customers and treat them perks that I don't think would be possible if we were selling apparel for example. I also think it helps to be involved in the industry we sell to. Dan and Dave are everywhere. They not only sell to the magic and cardistry industry, they are a huge part of it.