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Subject: Discount Brick and Mortar Store in Baltimore/DC Region? rss

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    This weekend I had a few free moments to go to a local gaming store (strategically located between Washington and Baltimore) that I just discovered via a BGG discussion.

    And it was great! It had everything I was looking for. However, it's prices were full retail, and although I like to support small businesses the four games I was interested in buying would have cost me $75 additional compared to shopping on the web.

    I considered speaking to the owner to see if the prices would wiggle a bit for such a large purchase, but he was not available. His adult son appeared fully aware that I was eyeballing product but not buying and even made a subtle comment about it. I didn't feel too guilty because I talked a couple in the store into buying Carcassonne and Cleopatra. But I walked out empty-handed.

    My question is this -- are there any walk-in game stores in the Baltimore/DC area that sell at something other than full retail? I tend to be an impulse buyer and would likely have cleaned the place out if they had been within $20 or $30 of the online price, and would have purchased at least one if it was only a few dollars more.

    I'll even expand the question a bit -- do such stores exist anywhere in the states? Or is this just not a market position where a business can survive?

             Sag.
 
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Marena Tiano
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There isn't enough profits for a brick and mortar store to discount heavily. That is the whole point behind online shopping. The site savings can be passed on the the customer. In which case, there still isn't a whole lot of profits.
 
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    To be fair this store was in a plush shopping mall that I'm sure demanded a high rent, so I likely wasn't their target customer.

             Sag.


 
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Bill Eldard
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Game Parlor, with locations in Chantilly, VA (not far from I-66) and Woodbridge, VA (close to I-95), sells at full retail, but they automatically offer what are called loyalty points. Basically, this gives you discount credit amounting to 10% of the purchase price, which you can take on that purchase, or save and accumulate for future purchases.

Each store is 3-store fronts wide, and offers a giant selection of Euro-games, as well as wargames, traditional games (e.g. chess, backgammon, playing cards), miniatures, and some computer games. 40% of their floor space is devoted to gaming tables that are free for use.

Check out their website and Email them.
 
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Paul Sauberer
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The economics of a FLGS make it very difficult, nigh unto impossible, to discount.

Let's look a tthe copy of Cleopatra you helped sell for the store. The MSRP is $50. That means the store grossed about $25 from the sale. Now let's say they offered a 20% discount. They would have only taken in $15 from the sale. They would have to double their unit volume in order to get about the same gross profit. Would such a discount increase volume to that extent? Probably not, since people who shop based on price would still be able to find games for less online. So the FLGS, in order to survive, has to compete on something other than price. Offering gaming space, a nice location, knowledgeable staff, etc. are value added services to justify the higher price.

Now, it may be advantageous for a store to offer discounts to their regular customers to try and snag their business away from the online stores. That would basically be considered windfall sales, as they would not represent, in most cases, sales that the store otherwise would get.

Online stores have to compete on price (at least those who cater to knowledgeable customers) because that is the prime thing they have to offer, although broad selection and sometimes faster delivery time (compared to special ordering at a FLGS) can be pluses. Online stores also likely do more volume than the typical FLGS and do not have to maintain a storefront and all of the costs involved with that.

Both models have their advantages, but to expect a FLGS to compete on price is unrealistic.
 
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Paul Boos
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I'll echo Paul's sentiment. I personally try and make 50% of my purchases from an FLGS (as I always like having a place to browse in person) and 50% on-line.

I'll echo also that Game Parlor is a great store (I usually visit the Woodbridge one) and their loyalty points is a good way of rewarding people that regularly shop there.

Cheers!
Paul
 
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jason rundell
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Don't know about discounts - but Other Realms in Gaithersburg other-realms.com is a wondeful FLGS, has a great selection and really helpful staff. I have found them to be slightly cheaper than the other game store in Montgomery COunty, but I beleive they are essentially full retail.
 
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    Had this store offered frequent-gamer-miles or some other discount mechanism it could have pushed me over the edge, as buying four games would likely have earned me some serious points on the first visit or primed me for another.

    I appreciate the dollar mechanics involved -- I was just wondering if there are stores out there that have found a successful middle ground. It seems to me if I order a game from a storefront I should receive some level of discount as they carry no risk and no financial overhead for that particular sale. But again, I'm assuming they're even considering someone like me in their market plan.

    I'm curious if the store owner might have found a mutually agreeable option.

             Sag.
 
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Mike Rasmuson
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Pardon me? "No risk and no financial overhead?" Did I read that correctly?

A brick and mortar store has risk anytime they buy a new product, because if it doesn't sell, they are out, not the consumer. They risk their own resources and time, just to be open. You can check out the many threads on opening your own FLGS and risks that entails.

As for financial overhead... just to get a product to their store, a FLGS has to pay rent for their space, maintenance of the common area, wages to any employees, utilities for said rental space, sales tax on all purchases made, and quite possibly loan payments. They pay a slightly above wholesale price from the disributor and sometimes freight to get it to their store.

A good FLGS offers alot to local gamers, but a discount will never be among them. We don't have a FLGS here in Las Vegas. I wish we did. It would be worth full retail to me.

--Mike in Las Vegas
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    In spite of the attitude, I still stand firmly behind this statement:

    "if I order a game from a storefront I should receive some level of discount as they carry no risk and no financial overhead for that particular sale."

    Thank you for spending the time to pen your carefully considered response.

             Sag.


 
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Michelle Zentis
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I used to work retail (not games). I started on the sales floor and was horrified to learn that we charged TWICE the wholesale price. Then I started working behind the scenes (buying and accounting) and was shocked that the store managed to stay in business. All the stuff that OralBob listed adds up really fast! He also left off a few hefty items like insurance, training, recruitment, spoilage (i.e. in-store damage), and $$$ credit card fees $$$.
 
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Slobodon Ginfizz
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Bill Eldard wrote:
Game Parlor, with locations in Chantilly, VA (not far from I-66) and Woodbridge, VA (close to I-95), sells at full retail, but they automatically offer what are called loyalty points. Basically, this gives you discount credit amounting to 10% of the purchase price, which you can take on that purchase, or save and accumulate for future purchases.

It's actually only 5%, and I'm almost certain that loyalty points can only be applied to the next purchase, although I've had the cashier offer to break up an order to apply the loyalty points from one part to the remainder.

But otherwise I agree, a very good store.
 
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Thomas McCorry
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Re: Game Parlor Loyalty Points

Actually it is 5% toward ANY future purchase (not just the next purchase) unless you are a member of a game club recognized by the Game Parlor like the Washington Gamer's Association. Then you get double loyalty points (i.e. 10% discount good towards a future purchase).

Everytime you make a purchase and identify yourself, the receipt will show what your current accumulated points are in the system.


Tom McCorry
 
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Arcadian Del Sol
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Its not my responsibility to subsidize every store owner who has the individually unique arrangement with his local energy company to pay a recurring fee for things like electrical power and running water. The 'retail mark-up' is not a sales tax where all customers are asked to 'pitch in' and cover that month's gas and electric fees. If I can get a game online for a *significantly* cheaper price than at a retail store, then I'm sorry but the retail store loses that one every single time. Pay the staff less, find a smaller location with a better deal on the rent. Drive a smaller, more efficient car - the solutions are also not my problem.

As a consumer, the only problems i need to be considerate of are my own individual budgetary ones. I'm not saying this to be cold hearted, but again, I'm not standing in a game store thinking to myself, "I wonder if the owner could use a few extra bucks." I'm thinking, "This is almost 30% more than what I could have paid online."

No maybe - MAYBE - if the game store owner said to me, "hey look that game? if its missing some pieces, no problem - lets open another one up and fix your problem and let ME worry about the MANUFACTURER for you." No, instead, most retail game stores want to disown you after you've made payment. "Your yatzee has only four dice? Call Milton Bradley I'm sure they'll resolve that for you."

no no no no no. I'm paying the 50% mark-up on the price so YOU Mr. Store Owner can be my own personal Customer Assistance Department. If you can't provide that, then I'm not giving you a $25.00 dollar 'tip' on every game I buy.

PS: some of the economic specifics in this thread are a good indication why game stores are becoming harder and harder to find. The product is pricing itself out of the marketplace, and those that try find it near impossible to pay the bills and a good staff on such a fringe product.
 
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j b Goodwin

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Bill Eldard wrote:
Game Parlor, with locations in Chantilly, VA (not far from I-66) and Woodbridge, VA (close to I-95), sells at full retail, but they automatically offer what are called loyalty points. Basically, this gives you discount credit amounting to 10% of the purchase price, which you can take on that purchase, or save and accumulate for future purchases.

Each store is 3-store fronts wide, and offers a giant selection of Euro-games, as well as wargames, traditional games (e.g. chess, backgammon, playing cards), miniatures, and some computer games. 40% of their floor space is devoted to gaming tables that are free for use.

Check out their website and Email them.

I totally agree. With the loyalty points, the awesome customer service, and the totally free playing area, this place buys my business. Excellent value!
 
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j b Goodwin

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Sagrilarus wrote:
    In spite of the attitude, I still stand firmly behind this statement:

    "if I order a game from a storefront I should receive some level of discount as they carry no risk and no financial overhead for that particular sale."
             Sag.

I understand your stance; however, it is based on several errors in fact. Every business has overhead. Even picking up a telephone and making an order implies a telephone conected to a telephone company. That's just the beginning of financial overhead. And your single order does represent risk as well; unlike citizens, who order single items, businesses usually have minimum order levels (your order is only a part of this). To order single items would be too expensive for the company to make a profit. And why should anyone's for-profit business be asked to order you something at no profit to the owners and operators?

If they can make a profit with special orders, that's great. Some businesses can. But there's always risk and overhead.
 
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j b Goodwin

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Arcadian Del Sol wrote:
Its not my responsibility to subsidize every store owner who has the individually unique arrangement with his local energy company to pay a recurring fee for things like electrical power and running water. The 'retail mark-up' is not a sales tax where all customers are asked to 'pitch in' and cover that month's gas and electric fees.

Wow. Gross misunderstanding of business. Haven't heard anything quite this silly since "sit-ins" in the 1960's. And at least they could blame it on LSD.
 
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Bill Gates
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Quote:
This weekend I had a few free moments to go to a local gaming store (strategically located between Washington and Baltimore) that I just discovered via a BGG discussion.

Where exactly is this game store? Columbia Mall? Right now, I drive from Baltimore to Days of Knights in Newark, Delaware. It charges full retail, but, hey, it's in Delaware. At least there's no sales tax.

From around 1987 through 1994, my FLGS was a place called Wargame Depot in Beltsville, Md. It sold new and used games, bought used games, and discounted all new titles (the discount was around 20%, my memory is a little hazy). Heck, the owner would even sometimes negotiate on prices. Of course, the wargame store was just a sideline -- his main business was a TV/VCR repair shop, which the owner often said paid the bills and allowed him to run the wargame store.

Sometime in 1992, 1993, the owner moved to a new location and tried to make a go at it as strictly a wargame store, adding computer games and comic books to his inventory while still discounting all new titles. One day in late 1994, my friends and I made our monthly road trip and found the store closed up. cry A neighboring store in the strip center said the Depot had gone out of business.

 
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Matthew Wills
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Sagrilarus wrote:
In spite of the attitude, I still stand firmly behind this statement:

"if I order a game from a storefront I should receive some level of discount as they carry no risk and no financial overhead for that particular sale."

Thank you for spending the time to pen your carefully considered response.

Sag.

Wow.
 
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David Bush
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mjwills wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:
In spite of the attitude, I still stand firmly behind this statement:

"if I order a game from a storefront I should receive some level of discount as they carry no risk and no financial overhead for that particular sale."

Thank you for spending the time to pen your carefully considered response.

Sag.

Wow.

I second your Wow.
 
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Quote:
I understand your stance; however, it is based on several errors in fact. Every business has overhead. Even picking up a telephone and making an order implies a telephone conected to a telephone company. That's just the beginning of financial overhead. And your single order does represent risk as well; unlike citizens, who order single items, businesses usually have minimum order levels (your order is only a part of this). To order single items would be too expensive for the company to make a profit. And why should anyone's for-profit business be asked to order you something at no profit to the owners and operators?

and

Quote:
Wow

    Gentlemen, my "single order" is not a single order at all -- it travels in the exact same shipment as the remainder of the games that store has ordered from the big companies like Rio Grande and Days of Wonder. Granted, if there is a "single order" that is a truly single order from a game company that the shop owner does not do business with, then that's a different story and I'd understand if the owner explained that the opportunity just wasn't there. This is about a mutually agreeable sale, not me stomping in and having a hissy fit demanding some unreasonable price -- you may consider giving me just a wee bit of consideration on that point. I'm not stupid.

    In the case of the particular store I am talking about, a special order would not be a likely possibility simply because he was so well stocked. But that's this particular case. Be-Beep by my house has indicated that they can special order any game for me from Rio Grande since they already have a weekly shipment coming from them (only two titles).

    All of you are looking at this entirely too simplistically. While one group of you is saying "No! Absolutely not! There's no way to get prices any lower than retail!" the other half of you is saying "Sure! There's a place in Chantilly that does EXACTLY what you're talking about. It can be done!"

    Well? Which is it? From the responses I've received to my actual question, apparently a store can indeed sell for less than retail.

    Speaking of that, let's go back to my original question and the language I couched it in -- is there a game store in the Baltimore/DC area that sells games at LESS THAN retail? I need to zoom in a bit -- I'm in Annapolis, so Chantilly is one heck of a drive. But thank you for tuning me in on that store -- given the chance I will certainly stop in as they seem to be the answer to my question.

   And Arcadian is correct -- if your business model is grossly out of synch with the marketplace on price, you have a very hard road ahead, especially when your product is virtually identical to the guy underpricing you. Amazon has been around for years and bookstores have managed to change to meet the challenge. Frankly, books are an even more homogeneous product than games, so these stores have beaten even greater odds. My simple question was whether there were any game stores in the area that were managing the same trick.

    I asked, people answered that yes, so as far as I'm concerned, we're done. But if you want to chew away, feel free. It's a free web site.

    By the way, I will stop in at my local Be Beep and see if they give price breaks on Rio Grande orders. I'll let people know if they send me an email indicating they're interested.

             Sag.
 
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Bill Eldard
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Many brick-and-mortar stores are facing a huge challenge from the online stores, and for the reason already mentioned. The fact that they can't afford to offer substantial discounts doesn't mean their business model is flawed; it just means that they can't meet their overhead obligations if they do. Sure, they could cut down on staff or compensation, though I haven't seen any FLGS that has excess staff, or overpays them; they could forego heating and air-conditioning, and only run the electric power for 15 minutes each hour to ring up sales and check credit cards. But it just isn't practical.

Places like northern Virginia's GAME PARLORs rely on the loyalty of customers like me, by offering a tremendous selection of products, friendly service, and nice discount, and a place to meet other gamers and play. They even host the Washington Gamers Association meetings each month, and offer its members extra discounts -- all this at their expense. But even as other brick-and-mortar game stores in the area have folded up their tents, GAME PARLOR still struggles to survive in an very affluent region of Virginia.

Will the online stores eventually do our FLGSs in? Perhaps, but I hope not. I hope they'll always have their niche of the market for fiolks like me to come in and browse, talk about the products with staff and fellow gamers, and play games. That's worth more to me than saving a few more bucks.
 
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Steve Boone
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Games and Comics and Stuff in Glen Burnie (just south of Baltimore) has a decent line of board games, CCGs and minatures. They also offer a 10% discount to members of their frequent buyer plan.

Also, Hobby Works in Laurel has the back wall filled with board games and minatures. If you are into any model building, this is on the top of the list. I'm not aware of any discounts given, but their prices are competitive. (They have a couple of other stores in Fairfax and Rockville, but I haven't visited those.)

Good luck. (At least you shouldn't have to drive to Delaware!)

 
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Doug Palmer
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The FLGS can't compete on price. That's pretty obvious. So, they have to offer something more for your money.

Does the store offer gaming space? Most that do don't charge anything for that space. They might have a "game night" for boardgamers and anyone who shows up can use their space.

Does the store have knowledgable staff? The stores that stick around are typically those with staff that know the games, know the latest and greatest, and can point a prospective buyer in the right direction.

Can you see the game (the bits, the board, etc...) before you buy? Yes, reviews and pictures on the web are nice, but there's nothing like opening up a box and seeing that the cubes are twice as small as you thought or that the cards are ultra thin and look prone to bends and creases.

Now, I realize that its hard to put a $$ on such subjective things. I ran a hobby shop for many years, which is/was in similar straits. The online stores were eating more and more into the bottom line. It's hard to compete with a mail order house that's offering up something that it COSTS you to put on your shelf. So, I had to sell it to my staff that we had to offset the costs. We had to offer up something that the online stores couldn't. We developed customer loyalty and tried to show the customer that it was worth coming into our store. The FLGS has the same battle.

Now, that being said, I'm not a fool. I've got 2 kids, a mortgage and a wife that eats up my paycheck faster than I can make it. My discretionary income isn't as much as I'd like. And, I do make online purchases of games. But I also designate some of that fund to the FLGS. I use their facilities to game, their staff has helped when I have questions, and they've even allowed me to look inside the box before buying (ah, the "new game smell" is awesome!). For that, I believe that they deserve some of my business as those "extras" do warrant something in my book.
 
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Marty Barylski
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I will pose a set of hypothetical questions:

1) Would you like to see the gaming industry grow, shrink, or don't care?

2) Do you believe an online store can demonstrate and teach games as effectively as a FLGS, to new players or people considering the hobby?

3) Do you believe that if all retail stores are out-of-date, should they all just go out of business?

4) If there were no 'out-moded' FLGSs would the market for boardgames grow, shrink, or flatten out?

I hear the arguments and just chuckle at some of it. If it is all about the money as some indicate, I hope you _never_ complain about service, missing parts, flaws, shipping mistakes, or damaged packages. Afterall, you saved money, right? What I hear is people want things both ways - a growing, lively industry, but they want someone else to pay for it as they save 30% off retail price. I want a great deal and the niche industry to thrive! That'll work shake

Lastly, show of hands here. Has a FLGS been instrumental in making you the geek you are today? (maybe that'll just be the old farts like me).

Cheers!
 
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