Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rant - Screw Your FLGS

'Friendly Local Game Store.' Like your local game store is Spider-Man. Man, I get sick of hearing that. And abbreviating it 'FLGS', like that will make it all cute, is even worse.

I've been in some game stores that I really loved. There was one in Orlando called Enterprise 1701, and they had old D&D books out the wazoo. This was back when I played D&D with my wife on a near-daily basis, after we had our first kid but before he got old enough to be a pain in the ass. I freaking loved that store. They've moved, and now they're called Sci-Fi City. If I'm ever in Orlando again, I will definitely be dropping some coin in that treasure trove.

But I don't live in Orlando any more, and my local game store is not all that friendly. Sure, the staff is polite, well-groomed and affable, but most of them don't know anything about board games. And the ones that do know something loom over me while I shop like I was about to shove a coffin-sized box down the front of my khakis and try to walk out of the store. I know, they're probably just trying to help - but they don't know enough to be more than irritating, and I know enough myself not to need a pimpled college kid for an escort.

Why do we feel a need to support local game stores, anyway? I've been in dozens of game stores nationwide, and at least half were dank, miserable pits of despair. Why would anyone support a store that smells like a bum's armpit? When the guy who is going to take your money sneers at you for buying inferior miniatures, because he's a Warhammer snob and you're buying pre-painted plastic, that chump doesn't deserve my business. For that matter, he doesn't deserve anyone's business. Just let him drag his ugly neck-beard back under his bridge, and I'll pick up what I need at a discount when I get it from Coolstuff.

And let's say your local game store is clean, and let's further say it's not staffed by social misfits and walking genital warts. Do they deserve my business just because they happen to be there? I will answer my own question with a resounding, 'Hell no.' You want my green dollars, you frikkin' earn 'em. Have a selection that rivals Thoughthammer, and prices that make me reconsider paying shipping, and you can have my money.

This 'support your local game store' reminds me of the bull-pap propaganda of the music industry, when they tried to keep everyone from getting their music digitally. They were so out of touch with the modern economy that they thought pushing some laws would stop the digital revolution. But those laws didn't stop music piracy. What stopped music piracy (or at least made it slow way down) was when they made it easier to buy your music online than it was to steal it.

The world has evolved. It's not 1985. I don't need my local store to order a game for me, because I can order the damned thing myself, have it in my hands faster, and save a bundle on it, to boot. Retailers who can't give me a reason to shop in their stores will simply not earn my money. I'm not going to shop out of a misguided sense of loyalty. I'll shop with the people who earn my business - and Noble Knight Games earns my business with decent discounts and amazing customer service.

Which is not to say that there's no place for your local game store. If they really are friendly, and they offer something I can't get online, I'll happily spend my money there. Give me good game nights. Give me some place to buy snacks that haven't been sitting in a vending machine for six months. Give me a loyal buyer discount program. Give me some reason to come into your store, and by God, I will. I will be in your store so often you'll have to throw me out, but you won't because of how much money I will be spending in your store.

It would be asinine to say I never spend money in the local store. Less than a month ago, I spent over $150 on paint, because I could spend forty-five minutes looking over the racks and picking exactly the colors I wanted. I've spent money on last-minute gifts, emergency card sleeves, and the odd box of dice. I don't buy games there because I'm not impatient enough to drop an extra 30 bucks just to have it that day, but I do spend some money there.

You know, when they earn it.


Daniel said...


Loquacious said...

As the owner of a FLGS, I am sorry that the stores you have been to as of late have not been pleasant and enjoyable.

It's very tough for me compete with online options; so I don't. I don't offer a discount (I truly can't afford to) and I don't carry a huge inventory. At 1100 sqft (and more than half of that play space), I have to economize every inch.

What I do offer is knowledge. My staff and I are pretty well versed in the games we have and the games coming out, and will gladly teach or play any game at the drop of a hat. We offer special orders which arrive the same week (and often the next DAY) without any shipping costs to the customer.

We also offer friendly service, and know how to back off. We want everyone to feel like a member of our family, so we do our best not to be Aunt Bertha or weird Uncle Ned.

I hope my customers see my value, and continue to shop with me. I'll continue to work as hard as I can to earn their business.

I hope you find a shop that does the same. Hit me up if you ever want the names of good stores near you, as we know a lot of folks out there.

Derek Thompson said...

Agree 100%.

I still go in sometimes, hoping for a deal on MtG singles, when I get the itch. For traditional board gaming, though... blech.

Matt Drake said...

Loquacious, there are a few good game stores out here. Madness in Plano is awesome, and I visit every chance I get - but it's an hour each way. The Game Chest in the mall used to be pretty cool, and there was a store in Allen that I visited so often they hired me (it might still be there, but that's even farther than Madness). I'm all for patronizing a store that earns my business. I just won't spend my money on places that suck just to support the local game store. I give my money to the stores that earn my business.

Anonymous said...

The thing that's left out of your post is the game store that is the main meeting place for gamers, like a large store near me in Springfield MO. They have Magic tournaments, Warhammer 40K and Fantasy tourneys, Warmachine, board game night thursdays, and many other gaming events. Their playing space can probably accomodate about 100 people at max capacity. Their store is the right way to do it. The big barrier to doing that is you need a large space to start with, but their facility is indispensable for gamers in this area to meet.

Unknown said...

I still support the same shop I frequented in 1985. I do not buy everything there but have done a fair share there and always buy a little something. Likewise for a shop I play in. I may not have bought everything I am playing with from him but I will not game there and not buy something.

Then there is www.thewarstore.com which is local for me and has aisles and aisles of gaming goodness but is primarily an online retailer and distributor.

Offer me a reason to shop and I will. Money goes where it is invited and stays where it is appreciated.

I remember Enterprice 1701 from living in Daytona Beach 1987-1993

DK said...

I have to agree, in my area, 2 out of the 3 local game stores are the next best thing to useless, sure they have some stuff, but the employees are neither friendly nor knowledgeable. The only decent store in the area is a Games Workshop store, and they do have a fun area to play in and a knowledgeable staff...as long as you're a fellow GW cultist. :-P

Tensider said...

Gamer's Armory in Cary, NC and Atomic Empire (formerly Sci-Fi Genre) in Durham, NC have earned my business on all counts.

* Discounts and/or frequent buyers rewards? Check.

* Play space? Check. Clean and well-lit.

* Food? Check. AE will even have a small bar soon. GA, in addition to both snacks, beverages, and frozen treats, has a microwave oven. I bring my dinner on game nights and then buy dessert from the freezer.

* Good people? Excellent folks who know their stuff.

* Good selection? AE has a giant selection and GA always has enough of what tempts me.

I still buy from amazon or online sometimes, when there are sales just too good to pass up. I feel really lucky, though, to be in an area with great shops.

Von said...

The only thing that will actually get me into a shop is a decent gaming space with a healthy community of people I'd actually want to spend time with. Sad, but true. I think that's the only thing the shops can offer that can't be gotten elsewhere - the knowledge and the discounts and even the repeat-customer bonuses can all be had elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

In my medium large city there were 5 "flgs" open for many years, of which exactly one wasn't populated with condescending ub3rg@m3r neckbearded employees.

Funny (and kinda sad regardless) that the only game store left standing in town now is the one that offers a decent selection, hands off help available to assist on request, a clean, b.o. free gaming area, and (most importantly) no jackholes judging your choice of gaming goodness.

I have way more bad flgs stories than good ones, but all those stores are now long gone, having failed to learn that it's not the internet's fault when you and your employees forget who the customer is.

Matt Drake said...

Exactly! That's how it ought to work! Support the stores that are good stores. Bollocks to the stores that suck. And never, ever feel bad about saving 20 bucks on an 80 dollar game because you didn't buy from the mouth-breathers down at the corner.

Anonymous said...

I once tried to buy something at a "flgs" and was told by the owner, over his shoulder as he played online, to "come back in 30 minutes" because his clan was raiding something on World of Warcrack.

I said "Why not just close your store next time it's not actually open for business." His piglike grunt ensured I didn't return.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the party, but this is by far one of the best postings you have ever made.

I do not like local gamings shops for a few reasons of which you named. But some pet peeves really irk me to often never want to enter a store.

My primary complaint is the pricing. When gaming shops nearly double the price of an item that you can find online, it is not going to entice me to buy from your store, period. Hobby shop owners can defend all day long about how they can't afford discounted prices, but also fail to realize that they lose business by not being competitive. Based on my loyalty reward level at Cool Stuff, I can tell you that I have spent over $5,000 through the years. This is money that the hobby shops could have if they were just competitive in pricing.

My other issue is the atmosphere with regard to the people in it. I hate walking in a store and nearly having every greasy-haired, sweat and ass combo smelling teen practically stop what they're doing to glare at you as if it were an old western movie and you're the new cowboy who just walked into the saloon full of outlaw regulars. I understand the workers can't control how their customers acts, but the workers are not innocent either.

Often times the workers are elitist clerks who make you feel like the item you're viewing or contemplating to maybe purchase is almost as bad as watching a snuff film with your grandmother.