New Products and a wrap up of the store at the US Open

Posted by Shelby Lohrman on 8/18/2017 to News
WOW,  What a productive 9 days!  I just want to thank everyone that made the bookstore at the Norfolk,  VA US Open such a success.  It has been a long time since I have run one of these,  and I would not have been able to do it without Franc and Boys from the USCF,  Rhoda from the Sheraton,  Greg from Chess4Less, and my staff here back home keeping me straight.  We even got to go see the USS Wisconsin Battleship in the harbor!
We brought a TON of new products (for ACE) to the tournament.  I have to admit I was worried on how they would go over.  Due to the tight time frame we had to get everything going,  I was not able to have all the product right at the start of the US Open.  Not to fear though,  our goal was to put forward the best store possible and I think we knocked it out of the park.  The new store signs were a huge hit.  Customer liked the chess history they brought into the mix.  At the National Grades in December my goal is to have all our signs done on the canvass and to eliminate any paper signs.
The surprising hit was the new plastic high end chess sets.  The 4.25" Wood Grain Plastic Chess Pieces we a HUGE hit.  They were over in the wood chess pieces section and customers were sure they were a lacquered wood chess set.  The grain on the light pieces was definitely throwing them off.  We cam close to selling out of that item.  We sold 15+ sets!  What really threw people for a loop was the 4.25" Metal Finish Chess Pieces.  They have a Brass and Bronze finish to them.  I had them on our 2.25" Square burl wood chess board and they looked marvelous!  Customers were calling me over saying "This is Metal,  right?!?"  I sold the 5 sets I brought in record time.
We seriously expanded out clock selection.  We brought in almost the full line of the DGT chess clocks,  ZMart Fun Chess Timers,the VTEK300 chess clocks,  and our own WE Games Chess Clock with Delay.  Our most popular seller was the DGT North American,  but the clock that people asked the most questions on was the VTEK300.  I will admit a bias to this clock,  I would like to think I was instrumental in the development of it.  Joe from Visual-Tek was even nice enough to supply me with a new color sample,  Brushed Aluminum.  I spent a lot of my time showing customers all the new features of the line.  They were shocked when I was able to show ANYONE how to set the clock in less than 5 minutes.  The text based menu eliminated all the questions they might have had.  Check out the review on Chess.com: https://www.chess.com/blog/shaun/do-you-need-a-new-chess-clock
The cool story of the tournament happened to do with one of my customers.  His name is Stephen Bellisario.  This kid from Arkansas was rated 1900 going into the tournament who had played for only 20 months.  I met him in the store while he was working on my chess problems that I had up on the demo boards.  He is a very personable well mannered kid.  First round he played a 1600 and won easily.  2nd round he 2294 behind the ropes and won.  3rd round he had to play a 2304,  and won.  3rd round he had to play a 2396 and drew.  After 6 rounds the kid had 4 points.  He finished with 6 of 9.  Pretty darn good for only having played for 20 months.  
He was such a cool kid I went and introduced him around to people he needs to know.  I introduced him to Jim Stallings from UTD.  Stallings liked him so much he invited him to a closed norm tournament there.  There might have been talk of a scholarship.  He even passed the test with the editor from American Chess Magazine.  Pete Tamburo took some pics and interviewed him.  Maybe an article in the future?
All I know is this tournament went so well I can't wait till the US Chess Federation Grade Championships in December.  There are a couple of new products in the hopper for that one that no one has EVER seen before.  We are planning the best store ever.  Uniforms for all the staff,  wicked new products,  professional signage for the whole store,  and we are shooting for the lowest wait times for checkout ever!

thanks
Shelby Lohrman
American Chess Equipment
Wood Expressions
310-329-9143 work
562-225-8324 cell
shelby@woodexpressions.com