I would first like to apologize to everyone that has been trying to buy hoops lately – I’ve been on vacation and this hasn’t been an easy decision. While this has been frustrating for many of you I wanted to have everyone on the same page without small hints and rumors drifting out confusing fact and fiction. There will be a few more sets of hoops online this week.
As many of you know I have been running Petersons Broomsticks for several years now and it has been a lot of fun growing a company from nothing. During these last several years I’ve learned quite a lot and also sacrificed a lot to help grow the sport. My aim has always been to provide quality products at prices people and teams can afford. While I haven’t always succeeded at achieving those goals I have worked day and night in pursuit of them to improve the sport and its accessibility to new players and teams. I remember when I started playing nearly every team was designing their own hoops to varying degrees of success and Swiffers were more common than PVC. We’ve all seen the incredible changes and development of the sport in the last decade and I am so grateful to everyone who made the sport what it was before I joined. The past year I’ve been unable to keep up with orders on my own and only was able to get orders shipped with the help of my wife, Catherine, and my dad, Joe; you may have met one or both at various tournaments over the years. It’s with this in mind that we get to the meat of this post.
TLDR: Major pricing changes inbound with the discontinuation of larger equipment possible.
The detailed post: In order to keep prices reasonable for the larger equipment I built the business plan around the subsidisation of team sales by individual/private sales. The basic reason is simple – a $5-10 price increase for an individual is acceptable, unlike an $80-160 price increase for a team. As with every other sport needing stick-like equipment, players buy their own equipment (which is typically $35-70 on the low end with the high end over $250) and I thought that would be the future for quidditch as well. In fact that appeared to be the direction the market was headed up until Rulebook 9. While we did secure the contract to provide the gameplay brooms for US Quidditch’s regional tournaments, a larger problem was born. Rulebook 9 from US Quidditch instituted a new rule preventing teams from having more than 6-7 brooms in their possession at any time during the game. The only reason I’ve ever heard about the necessity of this rule has been to force players to directly sub and prevent seekers from subbing in on the other side of the field from the seeker subbing out and surprising the snitch who didn’t see the new seeker enter gameplay.
In all fairness to US Quidditch I have been told there are other reasons beyond that single problem; however, I have never been told what other issues it solved. The side effect of this rule is that players are discouraged from owning their own personal broom – seriously, who is going to waste time swapping brooms at the scorekeeper’s table every time they sub in or out at the current level of competition? Sales didn’t drop off immediately and have never completely evaporated but the quantity sold has dropped to a trickle. I’ve tried for the last two years to get US Quidditch to change the rule to no avail. I have no clue what the next rulebook will contain or when it will be released – I still haven’t gotten an answer from US Quidditch on the subject despite discussing the situation with Sarah before nationals and repeated requests for information after nationals. Unfortunately at this point a rule change alone won’t be changing my mind; however I did offer a retainer option for US Quidditch to keep me making hoops while the market adjusts to a rulebook that encourages individual ownership rather than discouraging it. As I don’t want to just leave the community high and dry I will be updating the prices of hoops online to reflect the required prices to be sustainable with the current market. I understand it will likely price out many people and I don’t expect many orders if any to be honest. Unfortunately that is the cost of being able to compete with working for someone else (opportunity cost) and/or hire help to keep up with demand.
So what happens now? The current plan going from here is I will be returning to college to finish a degree while continuing to sell premade goods like shorts, headbands, etc. Any current orders will be filled in their entirety this week and I’ll be updating the website to reflect currently available inventories of hoops at the new price points. If hoops continue to sell at a sustainable rate I will continue to produce them; however, I don’t think the new prices will allow for sustainable revenue flow due to decreased demand. I am considering a few options for hardware kits if I stop selling hoops but there is a lot of uncertainty still going forward. I will try to keep the community updated as new decisions are made.
I absolutely love this sport and I still see massive growth potential but unfortunately I think that will have to fall to someone else to tap once the market has grown larger. I have a family and future to think of and unfortunately it’s currently incompatible with the current rules and market.