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Published: 10/5/2009

Miami entrepreneur makes right moves with board game

MIAMI HERALD

MIAMI - Generating revenue in a recession is a difficult game, but a Miami entrepreneur has made the right moves in a growing industry: board games.

Eric Poses rolled the dice in 1997, when he founded All Things Equal and took off on a cross-country sales trip in his car. Since then, revenue has grown, and he is in a countercyclical sales boom.

Board games traditionally do well during tough economic times. Monopoly was launched in 1935, during the Great Depression. Last year, as total U.S. toy sales declined, sales of board games rose 6 percent to $794 million, according to market research by NPD Group.

Mr. Poses said All Things Equal brought in $1.5 million in revenue last year. This year he projects that to grow to more than $2 million. But he will have to wait to find out if that projection is accurate, because about 75 percent of his company's sales occur during the fourth-quarter holiday rush.

"When the economy is bad and people are feeling financially pinched, board games are very attractive," said Cliff Annicelli, editor-in-chief of Playthings Magazine, a toy industry publication. "You can play them over and over again."

Pat Riso, vice president of global communications at Hasbro Games, said sales are "growing across all demographics."

Reyne Rice, a toy trend specialist at the Toy Industry Association, said board games have been selling well even during the spring and summer, a time when sales normally experience a lull.

All Things Equal started with a game called Loaded Questions. In 1997, Mr. Poses printed 5,000 copies and headed off on a 16-week sales trip across the country, sleeping in his car or staying with friends and family.

Although he sold only 1,000 copies on his trip, Loaded Questions caught the eye of a Toys 'R' Us representative, who ordered 7,500 units.

Mr. Poses now is placing his bet on games that promote interaction among players, a category he hopes is poised for more growth. A survey by market research firm GFK Roper found that 53 percent of respondents play games mainly to socialize with other players, beating out motives such as winning, strategizing to win, and facing a challenge.

"This game fosters the laughter," Mr. Poses said. "It makes it happen."



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