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Subject: What do you want to see from your local game store rss

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Ben Lott
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This subject was brought up in episode 196, and I thought we all might discuss it here.

My opinion: I would like to see an enforced code of conduct in my local game store. There are lots of nice gaming tables at the game store closest to me. Plenty of open copies of games to try. Even a relatively clean bathroom. But I haven't taken advantage of any of them, in fact I have almost completely discontinued shopping there. And it all has to do with the conduct of the people who hang out there.

Put simply, when I enter this game store, I feel like I've entered the boy's clubhouse and I'm not a member of the club. People are loitering all around the store, someone always seems to be hovering around the counter chatting up the employees, and they all use language that would be considered inappropriate in any normal store. What makes it worse is that these people don't seem to be shopping, they aren't playing any games, and they aren't even preparing for a game, they are just hanging out.

We won't go into the odor of some of these gentlemen, but the point is the atmosphere is the opposite of welcoming. The only exception, apparently, is if you have become a member of the club (which seems to require a lot of familiarity with CCGs.) I once embraced this store and rejoiced that it moved into our area. I have a number of relatives who would love to buy me the type of games I enjoy, but they are hesitant to shop online. So this store offered them an opportunity to shop in a brick-and-mortar setting. Sadly, though, this clubhouse atmosphere is so unwelcoming that I will no longer subject my relatives to it.

Sorry for the long rant. I just hate it because I so desperately want a game store that is more like a normal store, but the mere fact that I have to differentiate game stores from normal stores is the issue.
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Chris Bender
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My list:

- Knowledgeable, professional employees.
- A reasonable selection of the newest games
- A good system for special orders
- Comfortable places to play, like you'd find in some coffee shops
- Decent food and drinks, again like in a coffee shop
- A reasonable discount on higher dollar value items, around 20% or so
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Jason Young
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I would like to see a wider range of board games for sale. I understand that miniatures and Magic bring in a lot of money, but most of the stores around me almost neglect board games. There's a decent selection of the classics, Alhambra and all of its expansions, Memoir '44 and all of its expansions, Carcassonne and...you get the idea. It's either those stores or the one in the mall that is mostly party games and puzzles with about 25 board games, and their selection almost never rotates. I love browsing in these places and they do their part to host game nights, but there's never anything I want to buy in them. The store with the best selection is about an hour's drive from me, while the other 3 are within 15 minutes and I'd love to support them, there's just nothing there for me to spend money on.
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Jeroen van der Valk
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I wonder if there even would be (F)LGSs if they didn't sell CCGs and miniatures...
 
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Jason Young
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jvdv wrote:
I wonder if there even would be (F)LGSs if they didn't sell CCGs and miniatures...

I understand that, and I'm all for it. I wouldn't ask that stuff to go away, those gamers need someone to cater to them as well, just in an ideal world I'd like to see more choice/rotation for board games.
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Donal Behal
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-Better opening times: Currently I can only make it to the game store Saturday/Sunday. Not opening after work/school times even for an hour or two is reducing the potential for selling boosters and games.

-Faster ordering system: I waited for 3 months to receive my order of Tsuro; I asked 3 times for a quote and by the time (a month later)they gave it to me I had lost interest in the game.

-Clean/hygiene/code of conduct: Have to totally agree with Ben's original statement about some stores becoming a clubhouse.

-Staff knowledgeable and approachable: At least to be able to pin-point BGG as a reference for research on the background-opinions on certain game; not forcing a sale saying that this is great without even trying it themselves.

-Organised tournament/demo plays: Yes; a new popular release like 7 Wonders or a Dominion expansion would allow for players to try the game and boost sales. Wizkids was great for this type of events.

-Accessibility: Easy to park your car nearby or to be able for wheelchair access.






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ŁṲÎS̈
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Or at least move the Magic players to the back tables and let the boardgamers be close enough to the doors to get some fresh air.
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Daniel Ottey
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I have not listened to the episode yet, but I'd have to agree with many of the comments already here.

There is a store close to me that seems to mostly be a comic book store, but they also have a selection of board games in the back. But it isn't a very good selection. They also have some game tables, but the people playing there didn't seem interested in saying hello at all.

I once asked the cashier if he knew of any game groups in the area, and he had no idea. I'd assume a store that carries games like Munchkin and Settlers would know of a local game group.
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Joshua Gardner
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Blott wrote:
Put simply, when I enter this game store, I feel like I've entered the boy's clubhouse and I'm not a member of the club. People are loitering all around the store, someone always seems to be hovering around the counter chatting up the employees, and they all use language that would be considered inappropriate in any normal store. What makes it worse is that these people don't seem to be shopping, they aren't playing any games, and they aren't even preparing for a game, they are just hanging out.


Hey Ben. I'm intrigued by your response. Can you elaborate a bit more on the 'clubhouse' feel that you don't like? Is it simply the language, or the fact that customers are socializing with the employees?

The reason I ask is that one of the things I appreciate about my FLGS is that I am on a first name basis with many of the employees. If I call asking about a release, they know me and will hold onto a copy. The owner will tell me about releases that are coming up that I might like, and they'll listen if I want to talk about a hot new release I'm interested in that I think would be great for our Wednesday meets. I think if you're going to play in their house every week or so, you're bound to form relationships with the employees. That's part of the fun of a good FLGS. That's why you pay 20-30% more for the item than you can get online.

But an enforced code of conduct for employees and patrons that includes no cursing or disruptive behavior? I can get behind that.

EDIT: By the way, a friend recently posted up pictures of our FLGS here in Rochester. I consider myself very fortunate to live near such a great store.
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Ben Lott
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bullseyetm wrote:
Blott wrote:
Put simply, when I enter this game store, I feel like I've entered the boy's clubhouse and I'm not a member of the club. People are loitering all around the store, someone always seems to be hovering around the counter chatting up the employees, and they all use language that would be considered inappropriate in any normal store. What makes it worse is that these people don't seem to be shopping, they aren't playing any games, and they aren't even preparing for a game, they are just hanging out.


Hey Ben. I'm intrigued by your response. Can you elaborate a bit more on the 'clubhouse' feel that you don't like? Is it simply the language, or the fact that customers are socializing with the employees?

The reason I ask is that one of the things I appreciate about my FLGS is that I am on a first name basis with many of the employees. If I call asking about a release, they know me and will hold onto a copy. The owner will tell me about releases that are coming up that I might like, and they'll listen if I want to talk about a hot new release I'm interested in that I think would be great for our Wednesday meets. I think if you're going to play in their house every week or so, you're bound to form relationships with the employees. That's part of the fun of a good FLGS. That's why you pay 20-30% more for the item than you can get online.

But an enforced code of conduct for employees and patrons that includes no cursing or disruptive behavior? I can get behind that.

EDIT: By the way, a friend recently posted up pictures of our FLGS here in Rochester. I consider myself very fortunate to live near such a great store.

More than anything I think my frustration is with the conduct of those individuals. I don't take issue with the store employees befriending them, I don't even take issue with them being there when they don't really have intention of playing/buying a game. But it just seems like all common etiquette and manners have just fallen apart in this store. I have gone in before and walked up to the counter with a game I'd like to purchase, and been forced to ask 3 different people to get out of the way so that I could approach the register. Then these guys just hover around me and give me strange looks like I'm some type of alien invading their territory.

I have walked in with my wife, begun browsing the shelves and then watched her walk right back out after mere moments because she was sick of listening to the F-bomb spoken by these guys every other word. Obviously a store is going to be friendly and extremely welcoming to its "regulars" and I'm totally fine with that. But allowing them to use foul language, and to just be a general nuisance is just too much. I feel like the customers have become the controlling force at this store, and the employees are just condoning their conduct.
 
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Jason Young
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Blott wrote:
I feel like the customers have become the controlling force at this store, and the employees are just condoning their conduct.

Or when you have to hunt down the clerk from a pack of the clique in the back of the store. That's always fun.
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Joshua Gardner
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Blott wrote:
bullseyetm wrote:
Blott wrote:
Put simply, when I enter this game store, I feel like I've entered the boy's clubhouse and I'm not a member of the club. People are loitering all around the store, someone always seems to be hovering around the counter chatting up the employees, and they all use language that would be considered inappropriate in any normal store. What makes it worse is that these people don't seem to be shopping, they aren't playing any games, and they aren't even preparing for a game, they are just hanging out.


Hey Ben. I'm intrigued by your response. Can you elaborate a bit more on the 'clubhouse' feel that you don't like? Is it simply the language, or the fact that customers are socializing with the employees?

The reason I ask is that one of the things I appreciate about my FLGS is that I am on a first name basis with many of the employees. If I call asking about a release, they know me and will hold onto a copy. The owner will tell me about releases that are coming up that I might like, and they'll listen if I want to talk about a hot new release I'm interested in that I think would be great for our Wednesday meets. I think if you're going to play in their house every week or so, you're bound to form relationships with the employees. That's part of the fun of a good FLGS. That's why you pay 20-30% more for the item than you can get online.

But an enforced code of conduct for employees and patrons that includes no cursing or disruptive behavior? I can get behind that.

EDIT: By the way, a friend recently posted up pictures of our FLGS here in Rochester. I consider myself very fortunate to live near such a great store.

More than anything I think my frustration is with the conduct of those individuals. I don't take issue with the store employees befriending them, I don't even take issue with them being there when they don't really have intention of playing/buying a game. But it just seems like all common etiquette and manners have just fallen apart in this store. I have gone in before and walked up to the counter with a game I'd like to purchase, and been forced to ask 3 different people to get out of the way so that I could approach the register. Then these guys just hover around me and give me strange looks like I'm some type of alien invading their territory.

I have walked in with my wife, begun browsing the shelves and then watched her walk right back out after mere moments because she was sick of listening to the F-bomb spoken by these guys every other word. Obviously a store is going to be friendly and extremely welcoming to its "regulars" and I'm totally fine with that. But allowing them to use foul language, and to just be a general nuisance is just too much. I feel like the customers have become the controlling force at this store, and the employees are just condoning their conduct.


Thanks for clarifying. I'm with you on that. The employees need to maintain a sense of professionalism. They are running a place of business after all.
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Matt Overstreet
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Listening to the episode and reading the above comments allowed me the chance to really appreciate my local store. I just recently moved to the area (Gwinnett, GA) and was excited to see there was a game store 5 minutes away. When I dropped by I was happy to see a large collection of games in a clean setting. After I stared in wonder for a moment, someone came by and asked me if I played games. They then asked me what I liked to play and offered several recommendations. They also let me take an already open game home to try out for the week. I think one of the best ideas the store does is have different nights designated for different things. Monday is Warhamemr 40k day, Tuesday is Magic Day, Sunday is board game day. If you go in on Warhammer or Magic day you can run into the cursing, smelly crowd others were discussing. Board game day is usually a little older group and full of super nice people who are excited to have new people come play (at least they pretend to). I wonder why aren't there more stores like this.
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Clayton Ingalls
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Everything I want is really based on what I've experienced stores not having.

1. A relatively knowledgeable staff.
2. A staff that acknowledges there are in fact customers in their store.
3. A collection that is recognizably organized.
4. A place to play games and a schedule that makes it clear when gaming is appropriate.
5. A bathroom.
6. Games that go on sale.

One local game store employee complained recently to me about how online retailers sell games for so cheap they only make "5 cents per game sold." It's true that he can't match their prices, but I've never seen a game on sale at any of our local game stores. Not even 5% or 10%. Any effort would be rewarded by people like me who have a very limited budget (Saving $15 a month plus birthday and Christmas money that I receive).

I live in Hawaii and don't qualify for free shipping from the big discounters like Cool Stuff Inc or Boards and Bits. So a small discount at my local store would bring the price down to something that would compete with the online retailers. In fact, if I just buy one game it usually is pretty much the same to pay MRSP as ordering online. In that instance I always check before I order. Usually neither local store has what I want though. They just can't stock that many games.

Anyway, the point is that I don't see any effort on their part. They seem to have the attitude that because they are a niche store they shouldn't have to compete with the internet.
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Alec Chapman
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1. Complimentary showers and deodorant. But this is more aimed at customers than staff.

I was embarrassed recently to purchase a couple of games at a very popular store (since it's a complaint about the customers there's no point naming it) and walking in I actually heaved and had to step back outside for a minute. It absolutely stank.

Now, this may have something to do with there being a CCG night on at the time and lots of bodies in a small space, but I've been at indoor sports events with far bigger crowds and they didn't smell this bad.

In fact, I think the sportsmen after the game don't smell as bad as some of these people.

I am sick (literally) and tired of dealing with gamers with no personal hygiene. It is not rocket science but seems to be beyond the mental capacities of people who can otherwise perform complicated probability mathematics and develop fourth level card combos.

I'm glad you love CCGs, guys, but how about taking some of your brainpower and using it for basic ablution?

2. Customer Service.

Nobody can pretend that a business can survive without new customers being hooked to the buying experience at your store and every bricks and mortar game shop I have ever been to has had staff who are chatting amongst themselves about the latest cards or rules revision in the latest RPGs and are about as approachable as any insular group of new people talking in a language you don't understand i.e. not very.

There seems to be a collossal split between people who are knowledgable about games and the outgoing sort who want to meet with customers with the same level of openness and helpfulness (often with little specialised knowledge) that is displayed in larger stores with more intensive customer service training.

This is why the rare exceptions are so prized by their customers - they literally earn the right to continue existing with good customer service and by dealing with new customers correctly.

Regular customers must also lend a hand and not engage the busy store staff who value their continued custom by monopolising their time by talking of the latest Druid build they've developed.

There's more I'm sure, but those are the two biggies, and both involve both the regular game buyer and store owner together making a change.

If we want people to join our hobby, lets try making it less socially toxic, eh?

A
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Jonathan Moody
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Blott wrote:
I just hate it because I so desperately want a game store that is more like a normal store, but the mere fact that I have to differentiate game stores from normal stores is the issue.


I think this is an interesting statement. I definitely have found historically that game stores seem to be unique beasts. Why can't they feel more like a book store, or coffee shop? Even niche stores like imported toys or educational supply stores still feel like normal stores, even if they have their own flavor.

Maybe I am on an island by myself here, but who needs local game stores these days. Combine online stores with a good local game group/organization and you are all set.
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Chris Bender
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jmoody wrote:
Maybe I am on an island by myself here, but who needs local game stores these days. Combine online stores with a good local game group/organization and you are all set.


That's pretty much my situation. I have access to around five local game stores, but I actively avoid four of them for various reasons.

The only place I shop is at a game store by my work that I visit on my lunch break sometimes, but even they charge full retail so I usually only make small purchases there. If I could get a 20% discount I'd probably buy more.
 
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Shaun Graham
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I agree, that I'd like to see a gaming store, that has a nice atmosphere.
But I don't know if that is utopian, since remodeling a store in a beautiful but functional fashion takes a lot of effort and can cut deep into your finances?

As a German I once entered a gameshop on the SpaceCoast of Florida.
It was just as described above, but after I introduced myself I was welcomed by everybody.
Same in my German FLGS - it had a similar "clubhouse" feeling, which is totally fine, since I would want to be treated in that fashion, if I spent a lot of time there.
But as I experienced, being very extroverted really helps. I believe it is to one self to break up that clubhouse feeling, by just acting as you're already part of it.

One thing I also have to mention: An "elegant" solution to the online/brick&mortar problem is, that online shops also have their actual shop as well. For example my FLGS is also an online retailer.It is not the most beautiful coffeeshop atmosphere but it certainly is nice to go there.

Shaun
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chrisbender wrote:
jmoody wrote:
Maybe I am on an island by myself here, but who needs local game stores these days. Combine online stores with a good local game group/organization and you are all set.


That's pretty much my situation. I have access to around five local game stores, but I actively avoid four of them for various reasons.

The only place I shop is at a game store by my work that I visit on my lunch break sometimes, but even they charge full retail so I usually only make small purchases there. If I could get a 20% discount I'd probably buy more.


Man, this site really needs an FLGS listing. What 5 do you have up there on the north side?
On the East side we have Game Depot(best) and then Gamers Inn and then the game stores in the malls.
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Chris Bender
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monteslu wrote:
chrisbender wrote:
jmoody wrote:
Maybe I am on an island by myself here, but who needs local game stores these days. Combine online stores with a good local game group/organization and you are all set.


That's pretty much my situation. I have access to around five local game stores, but I actively avoid four of them for various reasons.

The only place I shop is at a game store by my work that I visit on my lunch break sometimes, but even they charge full retail so I usually only make small purchases there. If I could get a 20% discount I'd probably buy more.


Man, this site really needs an FLGS listing. What 5 do you have up there on the north side?
On the East side we have Game Depot(best) and then Gamers Inn and then the game stores in the malls.


Not just in the North Side, I'm talking all of Phoenix. I live up North, but I work in South Phoenix, so I have access to pretty much every store in Phoenix either from home or work.

The one's I'm thinking of are Imperial Outpost, Game Nightz, Game Depot, Gamer's Inn and Game Daze. I've been to all of those on multiple occasions in the past.
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Philip López
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Overstreet wrote:
Listening to the episode and reading the above comments allowed me the chance to really appreciate my local store. I just recently moved to the area (Gwinnett, GA) and was excited to see there was a game store 5 minutes away. When I dropped by I was happy to see a large collection of games in a clean setting. After I stared in wonder for a moment, someone came by and asked me if I played games. They then asked me what I liked to play and offered several recommendations. They also let me take an already open game home to try out for the week. I think one of the best ideas the store does is have different nights designated for different things. Monday is Warhamemr 40k day, Tuesday is Magic Day, Sunday is board game day. If you go in on Warhammer or Magic day you can run into the cursing, smelly crowd others were discussing. Board game day is usually a little older group and full of super nice people who are excited to have new people come play (at least they pretend to). I wonder why aren't there more stores like this.


I assume you speak of The Tower? They have a great establishment.
 
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Matt Overstreet
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You assume correctly.
 
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Stephen Stephen

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God, I love my FLGS. (Rainy Day Games in Aloha OR) I know the owner well enough to chat. His name is Steve, mine is Stephenl; so you know, easy to remember the name that way. The whole staff remember my last name when I preorder... or maybe I just pre-order to much. They have a large stock of everything. The staff can all talk Pitchcar and dominion, along with DnD and MtG. Hell, they've even got two racks of Frisbe Golf.

The place is well lit, with good airflow. Even last sunday when there where probly more people than there should have been in the game room thanks to a Magic launch, Board game day, AND Wh40k play; there was no BO. Some people took up excessive room, but the clerks asked them to move their stuff, and it happened.

There have been a couple times when I've asked my boyfriend to grab something Ive preordered for me. They even recognise HIM, and get the game down before he even gets to the counter.

All in all, I feel very lucky to have such a great FLGS.
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