From the Garage to Game Store Shelves: The Broken Token Story

We’re counting down the days International Tabletop Day 2018, happening this year on April 28th! As we get closer to the big day, we’ll be looking at the gamut of tabletop gaming, from the stories of the games we play to remarkable people who love them. Today we’re looking at one of the tools to help gamers […]

We’re counting down the days International Tabletop Day 2018, happening this year on April 28th! As we get closer to the big day, we’ll be looking at the gamut of tabletop gaming, from the stories of the games we play to remarkable people who love them. Today we’re looking at one of the tools to help gamers track their games. Be sure to join in on the fun on April 28th on our official ITTD Twitch Stream, hosted by Ivan van Norman and donate to charity:water, the worthy cause we’re supporting this year.

If you’ve ever stared helplessly at the mess inside the box of your favorite tabletop games, you’re not alone. Whether you can’t get everything back in the box or you just want to get organized, there’s something satisfying about keeping your favorite game neat and tidy inside the box. (And you’re less likely to lose pieces.)

Greg Spence, owner of The Broken Token, had the same problem a few years ago, and turned pieces of wood into a custom box organizer for his game. Then he turned his solution into an international business. Greg chatted with us about how the company got started and tips for turning what you love into a full-fledged career.

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It all started with Agricola.

“I’ve always enjoyed building things with wood, and at the time I was playing a lot of Agricola,” says Greg. “I thought it would be cool to have a nicer way to carry the game around, so I made an entirely new, wooden replacement box to hold the contents, with a removable tray for all the game bits.”

It was an instant hit with his friends, who wanted boxes of their own. Greg’s first organizer and box were made completely by hand, which was fantastic for a personal project, but not feasible beyond that. Already a member at a nearby makerspace, he realized that laser cutters could have a significant impact on the process.

“At the time I was playing a lot of King of Tokyo, so I decided to make a little in-box organizer for it, and it turned out great,” Greg says. “I posted pictures online and immediately people wanted to buy it. That’s what led to me putting up a small online store. Then I started working on my next organizer, which was for Eclipse.”

Driving hours a day to use the makerspace’s laster cutter wasn’t the most efficient way to make a product to sell, so Greg then turned to Kickstarter for funding so he could buy a cutter and make a work space of his own in the garage.

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“I decided to run a campaign for a wooden card storage solution that could be used for games like Dominion or Cards Against Humanity,” he says.

Kickstarting a Business

The Kickstarter was a success, and The Broken Token was in business. “Demand for products grew faster than we could make them,” says Greg. “We talked to some US distribution companies that were interested in our products, and decided to open up our business to wholesale and retail customers.”

International distributors followed. “The first couple of years were a flurry of hiring people, buying equipment, and expanding our warehouse space. Today our products are moving all over the world and we’re still looking to expand our production capacity even more.”

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The Broken Token’s game organizers have found fans not just in tabletop players, but in game companies as well. “We’ve been approached by quite a few publishers who want to work together on an optional storage solution for add-ons to their games, either releasing in sync with the game’s launch, or as a later upgrade. We’re proud to have a large number of our products officially licensed by the companies that publish the games,” Greg says.

Turn a Hobby Into a Career

Greg is one of the lucky few who has turned what he loves into how he makes his living, but it’s not as unattainable as you might think. “This is a perfect time for people to turn something they love doing into a successful business,” he says. “Machines like 3-D printers and laser cutters are getting more and more affordable. Whether you’re designing new products or creating amazing art, there are so many good outlets to get your ideas in front of people. Whether it’s Kickstarter, Etsy, Amazon, or eBay, you can be up and running quickly, with little effort.

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“Once you’re open for business, the hard part is just getting the word out about what you do. Leverage your social networks and go to conventions or flea markets to get your ideas in front of people.

“It won’t always be easy, but if you love doing it, it will be worth it.”

What do you use to organize your board game contents? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water.

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All Photos: The Broken Token

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