If you don’t have a lot of time, here are the bullet points I’m hoping to cover here:
- The FLGSs around here are wonderful, but do things that aggravate me. Am I just being too bitchy? Should I just feel lucky to have a FLGS? Does your FLGS do little things to annoy you too, or is every FLGS outside of Houston as wonderful as the ones I read about online?
- If a game store doesn’t have something in stock, they inevitably offer to order it. Why would a patron do that, and not just order it online? I get the idea of supporting brick & mortar stores – and I do, more often than not – but then one runs the risk of the item being forgotten. Why is it better for a gamer at that point to order from a store, and not the web? What am I missing?
- In today’s day and age – do we really need game stores? Or are they an anachronism?
I live in a suburb of Houston, and I’m fortunate enough to have two Friendly Local Gaming Stores close to me. As in “roughly 10 minutes away, and on my way home from work” close. I guess I should point out that Houston’s a spread-out monstrosity of a town. No real city planning – things just sprang up where ever oil was found, and sprawl connected everything, so its too large for any effective public transportation. You have to drive to get pretty much anywhere – our average commute is 30 minutes. So I realize how fortunate I am to have two game stores next to me. The next-closest one is about 45 minutes away.
Here’s the thing, though: I’m not comfortable with either one of the stores close to me.
One store sells stuff over MSRP. Not everything, mind you – and I understand the reasoning: it depends on which distributor they get stuff from. But this angers me greatly – and I’ll admit, irrationally. If I notice something’s over MSRP, I just shouldn’t buy it – and I haven’t when I catch it… but the very idea just rubs me the wrong way, as though “hope the customers don’t notice” is part of the sales plan. They’re a very well-stocked store, but I’m just not cool with the overcharging.. Even when factoring in gas to go to another store 45-minutes away, or shipping costs from ordering online, its cheaper to go local… yet, I’m bothered enough to not do that. I think. This is a new discovery for me. We’ll see if I hold to this principle.
UPDATE on this… between the time I started this draft and the time I hit publish, one of the employees there expressed my concern to the owner. I’ve been asked to come in and TELL THEM WHAT I’VE NOTICED THAT’S OVER MSRP. Isn’t that ridiculous? Why am I expected to keep up the charade that overcharging is an accident? I’ve been sitting on this blog for about five days before hitting publish. I’ve given it enough time, I’m not being rash. That’s bullshit.
Okay, so go to the other store, right? Well, I would – but they have very little on their shelves that I want to buy. They’re nice guys, but they’re a hardcore war-minis and Magic: The Gathering Store. When I’ve tried to plan or participate in RP gaming over there, its… not welcoming. To their credit, there is a 2nd ed D&D game that’s going on there, and they did purchase the Free RPG Day package, but they don’t have the Pathfinder Core Rulebook on their shelves (and haven’t for many months) and to my knowledge, they’ve never had either of the Heroes of books necessary for D&D 4.5 – so running those games, only to get players interested in a product they can’t purchase at that store – seems a bit silly, doesn’t it? Jason tried running the Dungeon Command event there, and they didn’t want him doing it that Saturday because they had wargaming “tournaments” on Saturdays. PROTIP: If you do it every week, its not a tournament – its a Saturday. I’ll let Jason talk about that if he wants.
Their board game supply is quite low, and even those are placed way-up high where they’re difficult to see. Attempts to do board gaming there are met with mixed results. In fact, they just published their monthly “tabletop” calendar, and nowhere on there is a single RPG or board game – its all magic and war-minis. RPGs and board games aren’t even an afterthought. To be fair, the guys have been nothing but nice to me, but as a RPG/board gamer, I don’t feel welcome there… and I’d really really like to. I’d love to frequent the bigger, better-lit store that doesn’t try to nickle-and-dime its customers – but I keep looking, and there ain’t nothing there for me. When I try to play stuff I want to play there, it feels forced. I’ll admit that this is my perception, and to others that place feels like home – and I’m very happy for them.
Point being: there’s all kinds of little issues, from both stores. I’m trying to keep the whining to a minimum (and failing, I realize). I’m just wondering: how much of this is “familiarity breeds contempt”? I was going to post this to reddit or /tg/, but I figured I’d ask anybody that happens by here instead:
“What does your FLGS do to irritate you?”
I’m not going to bother asking one of the questions up top – “Am I Being Too Whiny?” because I’m reading/editing as I’m going here and … just ugh. This post belongs on a “Gamer Girls” blog (ducks). But I have a point here. This has been brewing for a while, and Jason heard me repeat this rant AGAIN after our game night tonight. So fine, I’m posting it and getting it off my chest so I can instead bitch about D&D Next instead (btw, how pissed off do you suppose the developers of the Neverwinter video game are that they’re about to release a video game for an abandoned ruleset?).
Anyway, question 2: Both stores have dropped the ball on ordering stuff. I’ll ask the owner of one store if they have something and he’ll tell me he can’t get it from his distributor. So I get it elsewhere. Then next time I’m in, he’s like “hey, I got that thing you ordered.” – as if I’ve done something wrong by going elsewhere when he told me he can’t get the item I’ve asked for. This is a constant. That, and I’ll tell him I need something by X date for a con or game day… he doesn’t get it in (or doesn’t get enough in), I get it elsewhere, then after I needed it I hear “hey, I got that thing you ordered.” I’ve learned not to ask about products for that very reason – but sometimes I’ll forget that self-imposed rule.
And the other store… I wanted to get the Beginner Box when it came out. This was well-communicated. Release comes, and its not on the shelves. Okay, wait a few days… still not on the shelves. Fine, I’ll get it elsewhere. Come to find out, they got it in – it was just in the storeroom and not on the shelves. Wtf?
So okay – there’s apparently a risk to ordering stuff from a store – when you add another person into the equation, you run a risk of an issue… which I suppose is true of anything. So why then order from a store, and not online? I know, I know – support the local brick and mortar store – until you plan a game day based on a new product and its not in your hands. What am I missing here?
…and I already know the answer to question #3 – Game stores are good. I’ve been sitting on this blog post for a while – I don’t want to upset/hurt either of the stores. They’re good people. I don’t believe “the customer is always right” – nor does anybody that’s ever worked in retail, ever. Sometimes the customer is a whiny douche. However, there’s a reason I pose the question in the first place:
I’m pretty happy with my playgroup. Its grown – not from the game stores – but from meetup.com. Meetup’s great, because players seek you out – instead of posting a flyer in a store and hoping for the best. We play in our homes – ever try to play at a game store on a Friday night? Isn’t it fun trying trying to hear the GM amongst the Friday Night Magic crowd? We also have weekly board gaming at a local restaurant… because dinner and gaming is pretty sweet.
Doing a cursory analysis of my gaming habits – the game store itself isn’t a big part of that anymore. If I were to switch my buying to online, it would be even less. I would miss either of the local stores if they were to go away – just like I miss the record stores of not-that-long-ago-because-I-don’t-want-to-admit-I’m-that-old… but its not like I stopped listening to music.
I probably give too much of a shit about this. A simpleton would look at this and say “well, if you don’t like it – just don’t go” but that overlooks wanting to build a strong gaming community – and by that, I mean “RP and board gaming community” – the magic and war-gaming communities are evidently just fine. That, and I’m generally curious to what over people’s game store experiences are like worldwide.
Also: and this hasn’t been communicated very well up to this point – I have genuine love for both stores. I want to find reasons to either A) spend more time at either place or B) not avoid either place.
So, let me hear it. What’s your FLGS like? If you don’t have a FLGS, what do you do?