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Subject: How are the game stores in your area? rss

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Matt Spence
United States
New Jersey
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I live in Philly metro area (on the Jersey side, unfortunately) but lucky for me, I have a great store
All Things Fun (allthingsfun.net)
Clean, well lit, lots of space, and the owners are some of the nicest people you could ever meet.
We have a regular group that meets Weds. nights and anywhere from 5 to 14 people show up. (ages 12-50+).
They sell comics, and CCGs, RPGs and boardgames.
A nice perk is that they are right next to an excellant homemade ice cream shop.

Check out their webcam on Weds. nights, you'll definietly see me
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Tim Stevenson
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Another HUGE thumbs up for the Game Parlor. I shop at the Woodbridge location (I live in Dumfries) and I really appreciate the knowledgeable friendly staff. Even though I don't game there, I shop there frequently and several members of the staff know be by name. I've made extensive use of the Loyalty Points program and I think even that little incentive encourages local gamers to continue shopping there instead of going the internet route.

- Tim
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Swood
United States
Stamford
Connecticut
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What game stores?

I'm in Stamford, CT wedged right between Greenwich and Westport... two places where money literally *does* grow on trees. And there's not a game store in sight.
 
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David McLeod
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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I've been going to the same FLGS in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada since 1982 (when I was 8) and one of my favourite things about visiting Fandom IS the kinda friendly/unfriendly staff. I appreciate the fact that the guy who runs the place thinks some questions are completely stupid! Kind of ignorant but there is something comforting in it.

One of my favourite moments was a newbie friend of mine who went to buy a game for his sister for Xmas and asked if they had Through the Desert. The guy said "You mean your looking for pastel camel games?" and then proceeded to show him his small selection of this type of game. (Yspahan and TtD). Now, my friend was taken aback, he asked me afterwords "What the #*&@ are pastel camel games" and all I could do was laugh. Withtout this kind of FLGS owner you wouldn't have these rich moments.

Maybe I'm a snob but I like the fact that it's a place most people fear to enter.

I go into the brightly coloured friendly geek store and I just want to get out! I don't care what the selection is like.
 
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Chris Johnson
Australia
Perth
Western Australia
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Spielguy wrote:
Does a store that is well lit, free of dark or sensual images (comic images) lose its appeal to the core base of the game industry? Are these comic images, RPG posters, etc., necessary to maintain what is for most stores the bread and butter of their business?

Well, when my FLGS moved to its current location years back we all thought the dungeon-themed paintjob was really cool. But, then, I was 19 at the time.

Now I tend to think that if it was all stripped out and painted white, the tacky promptional posters removed and proper shelving was installed that it would be a lot more inviting. Not that they have the money to do that, except the removing of the posters.

But then, this store is downstairs in an obscure part of the city. They don't get a lot of "passing trade". Most customers seek it out and know what they're about to walk into.

If you want family-friendly, casual customer oriented, there's a popular game store chain that has stores in pretty much every shopping centre in the metro area.
 
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Marco Grubert
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San Diego
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Peso Pete wrote:
In the San Diego area, there are three stores of note: Pair-A-Dice (formerly Carlsbad Game Cove) in Vista, Game Empire in Clairemont Mesa, and Game Towne in Old Town. They are all well-run and managed stores that are far away enough from one another to be able to support, rather than conflict with, one another. Whichever one you choose is really more a matter of personal preference than anything else. We are lucky here in San Diego - great weather and great game stores.
And some negative comments to make it a well-rounded review:
Game Towne is a somewhat smallish store with limited shelf space and selection. The owner is friendly and helpful. If you are looking for gifts for non-gamers such as puzzles or kids' games this would be a great place to check out.

Game Empire on the other hand is big and bright- half the store is merchandise, the other half is a gaming area (which seems to always be well frequented by wargamers). I don't know what exactly it is but the game area has somewhat of a run-down feel to it. Inventory of board games is excellent (all at MSRP, I have never seen any discounts). Staff is not unfriendly but rather mono-syllabic and most BoardGameGeeks know more about games than the clerks there ("What's a good two-player game?"-"Monster Menace America!"..oookay)
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Chris K
United States
Salt Lake City
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I am lucky enough to live in the Salt Lake City area, and Game Night Games is about a 15 minute drive for me. And I echo everything the topic creator said about the store. It's truly one of a kind.

Game Night Games has incredible selection, staff who are not only knowledgeable but approachable, and just an all around amazing experience. They have many activities such as "open gaming night" every week, competitive tournaments for a bunch of different games, and occasional demos as well. I have a pretty lousy work schedule though, which means I usually don't get to go to all of these things cry
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J.L. Robert
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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The stores in the L.A. area that I've visited:

All Ways Gaming (Chatsworth)
The Good: Friendly staff, improving on their service and selection (see below).
The Bad: Staff not the most knowledgable, needing some newer products, inconvenient hours.
The Ugly: Does cater to the CCG crowds, though not at the expense of trying to help customers in store.
The Skinny: This store has made strides in the past couple of years, but its bread and butter remains Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic. The staff is working on improving their board game selection (as they are the only store in the West San Fernando Valley), so don't write them off just yet.

Game Empire (Pasadena)
The Good: As well-run as their Claremont Mesa store in San Diego, well-lit, -stocked and -staffed, large, open gaming area.
The Bad: Sales area is a bit cramped for the stock they carry, odd scheduling for some of their events.
The Ugly: Apparently has had a falling out with the local convention organizers, already has an "Us (regulars) vs. Them (casual visitors)" feel about it.
The Skinny: Game Empire is a strong business model. Perhaps too strong at times. I sometimes get the feeling that they want to be the only game in town (pardon the pun), which I feel would do more harm than good for hobbyists. Still, a fine store overall.

Gameology (Claremont)
The Good: Good selection, including many new releases, very well-attended gaming days, friendly and polite staff, very large gaming area, divided into several rooms for semi-privacy, great game library for daily/weekly rentals.
The Bad: Remote by L.A. standards, very small sales floor.
The Ugly: Gaming areas can get a little dingy at times, portions of the open gaming areas have slat-flooring, where small pieces/counters can fall in, to be lost forever.
The Skinny: It's a friendly store, perhaps the best balance of the factors people look for in a game store. They certainly make the most from the small space they have devoted for product and sales. And they strive to embrace all types of gamers...boardgamers, RPG'ers, and CCG'ers alike.

Knight Ware (Studio City)
The Good: Very friendly staff who tries to be helpful, well-organized event scheduling, gaming areas near front window and in back of store.
The Bad: Limited stock, will sometimes forget to re-stock certain products, no discounts (due to location and rent, I presume).
The Ugly: Poorly lit, cluttered appearance, does accomodate to Magic players for league and release events.
The Skinny: If you can overlook the unkempt appearance of the store, you'll find it a friendly place to come back to. The owners are well-meaning, but their time is certainly spread thin raising two young children while operating their store.

The Last Grenadier (Burbank)
The Good: One of the oldest game stores in the city; can find the occasional hidden gem in their shelves.
The Bad: Not the same feel since the store relocated several years ago, hard to find certain items.
The Ugly: Indifferent staff, many visible products tagged for eBay sales, rather than store sales, lots of clutter, especially in the back, near the single gaming table.
The Skinny: While the venerable gaming store of the San Fernando Valley, I keep feeling that they take their clientele for granted. I was once left standing at the counter with $200 worth of product in my hands while two "workers" were busy chatting with one another (that was back in the day of $30 games). I only shop there when I can't find it elsewhere.

After all of these years, I've never been able to visit Aero Hobbies in Santa Monica, or points further south. The stores in Riverside are simply too far for me to visit regularly, so it would be unfair for me to assess them based on a single visit.

All in all, the stores out here are a mixed bag. I choose Knight Ware for personal proximity, and Gameology for game days. Game Empire is a nice place to visit when I'm around. I'm not in the vicinity of All Ways Gaming enough to frequent them. And I consider customer service to be most important, so I don't visit The Last Grenadier.
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Michael Edwards
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Everett
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Well, without naming names, I do have plenty of game stores in my area.

One is amazingly friendly/well-lit/general appeal/amazing stock/clean.

One is very nice/well-lit/good general appeal/great stock/clean, but no gaming space.

Two are as above, but with gaming space.

Four are a clean/a little cramped/employees are helpful (but a little non-mainstream/odd in several), places are too cramped when gamers are in playing, but well stocked.

One has way more gaming space than merchandise space, poor selection, and the smell of "gamer funk".

One is large, mixed space (models/etc), amazingly outdated selection, staff has little knowledge of games.

There are also several spots that are mixed merchandise stores (comic/PRG, etc.) with some or more board games, but are not "destinations" for board games.

Mind you, the prices of the games/discount is all over the place on this list, which is a fairly large driver in my shopping choices. Location is as well, and many that I have visited are out of the way for me.


While I do agree that well lit and stocked = good, I'm not sure I synch up on the "accessible to the average person". I agree that I think it is good when games are made so, and some stores should be so.

However, I'll admit I'm a (former) comic book collector, so I've no problem with comic stores, and in general, the images displayed therein. I also think that comic retailers can vary in their cleanliness / accessibility just like game stores can.

I admit, having been a long time gamer (wargame, RPG, Euro), it does rankle somewhat when I get the vibe that the hobby (or game stores, as in this discussion) should "clean up", or dissociate themselves from other hobbies seen as unacceptably geeky (Comics, Sci-Fi, RPGs, what have you). I tend to think of the hobby as having lots of cross over and intertwined roots.

I will also say, however, that growing the hobby to a broader audience undoubtedly benefits from a lack of such obvious associations, at least when concentrating on a Euro game context. I think there's plenty of room for stores that do and don't feature comic images, each to better serve their intended audiences.
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Lee Massey
United States
Teachey
North Carolina
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Quote:
What game stores?

I second that opinion! I live in an area with no game stores!shake

I shop on line exclusively.


 
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Teri Zevallos
United States
Pflugerville
Texas
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We are lucky that we have about 4-5 gaming stores in central texas. We have visit about all of them, but only to 3 to play at Open Game Nite. We are very new and still learning about different games, so please take this into consideration

1st location North Austin
Pros: very friendly, easy going staff, this is comic/game store, small, well lit, no smells
but very small gaming area.
Cons: small gaming area, maybe you can fit 2 or 3 tables.

2nd location Central Austin
Pro: this location is 100% boardgames, game area very large to accomodate gamers. Here is where we learned a couple of new games, thanks to the gamers. Big gaming groups meet here. Owners very nice, staff read following comment
Cons: dusty, smelly, not proper ventilation, either to cold or to hot. We encounter unfriendly staff for the first time, were looking at a couple of games to possibly buy and the sales clerk approach us and took the item off my hand and just put it up, without saying anything, that made us feel unconfortable and not welcome angry, so our learning days at this place are over. We have purchased several games here, but not coming back.

3rd location North Austin
Pros Near home, comics/game store, tons of tables, friendly staff.
Cons Small, young players,



Please comment if you ever had an incident such as we had tonite.
 
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Bojan Ramadanovic
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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I am in Vancouver, Canada and there are about 3-4 game stores that are fairly easy to get to. All but one are mostly usual, crammed comic-book/game type of places and I occasionally buy stuff there (though much more often I go there for Vertigo comics and such then for games).

95% of my gaming needs are served by Drexoll Games which is about as ideal a game-shop as I could possibly imagine. It is in on 4th avenue (Hippie-ish part of town that has mostly went Yuppy by now but is still very pleasant and not too far from downtown where I live). They are solely game-store so they carry no comics, no "collectibles" and other gunk that takes so much space in other places. Store is beautiful, well furnished and brightly lit.

Their focus is Euros and family games (I think most of their "bread and butter" comes from things like Settlers, Carcassone, Ticket to Ride etc...) but they go out of their way to get at least one or two copies of any game that gets published in North America as long as it has any chance of selling (so quite often one can get very obscure war games - GMT as well as others - and one is practically guaranteed to be able to find all designer games as they come out). They do not (any more) carry miniatures and miniature games but will order them for someone if asked. They have very nice selection of RPGs and usual stock of collectible games.

Darcy and Tamara - owner/operators - are such friendly folks that we have quite literally become friends with them over time - to the point of going out together and playing games together outside the store.

Currently they run a free Friday night German Board Games Night (which is a staple of the local gaming scene) and Saturday magic tournament (which has entry fee commensurate to the prize-pool).

All in all - could not ask for a better FLGS. I practically never see a need to buy from anyone else unless there is some reason Darcy can not get the game I am interested in (which happened perhaps 2-3 times in the past 5 years).


 
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Tim LaCroix
United States
Massachusetts
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I am located in Marshfield, ma. The three stores in my area are

Medieval Starship
Clean, attractive and friendly. Owner is a games workshop fan and Cthulhu fan. Every Sunday noon to five is board game day. It is free and you can bring and play your own games. They have about 50 to 100 games in stock. This place is the friendliest and geekiest on my list, all workers and owners are gamers and love to play games. It is located in Pembroke ma.

Scholars
Old RPGs books are piled here like an homage to days past. It is fairly clean and well lit. They have a Friday night board game night twice a month. The magic players are there as well and can be loud, but its fun to take up seating that they would have otherwise. They charge $5 for the gaming night and give you $8 store credit for it. The selection is 30-80 games it is located in Bridgewater, ma

Battleground
Battleground is magic centric, but they love to go to cons like pax east. They tend to have the largest selection, but they don't have a board game day or night. The place is fairly clean, but with lots of magic players around all the time. This one may have the odd smells. They have about 70-150 games in stock. Because they don't host any board game fun I usually don't buy from them.
 
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In Dallas we have one store that is truly devoted to games - the Game Chest. I have not been in a loooooong time because the handful of times I went before, I found the people behind the counter to be arrogant and aloof to anyone who was not part of their own regular gaming group.

The store itself was well-stocked and maintained and I used to be a more frequent visitor a long time ago (read: decades) when I was part of the Crown's Guard for I.C.E. and ran some MECCG tournaments and demonstrations there - but even then I would not have been called a regular.

Most of the comic shops in the area also have a games section. They carry a lot of the Euro and Ameritrash stuff, but only the titles that carry a high popularity or name recognition.

And there is a board gaming group that meets regularly at various locations around the city and pulls in a respectable number of players - both regular and new. There is sometimes opportunity for trades and sales (from individuals) there.

Anything beyond that, I have to go online for.
 
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N R
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The closest store to me is Superior Game Works, which is in Marquette, Michigan. It is quite small due to being relatively new and I generally can't find what I am looking for. Plus it has very bizarre hours, often not opening until 2:00 PM on most weekdays.

If I am willing to drive 100, to Green Bay, Wisconsin, there is Gnome Games. Gnome Games is great and if I am not careful, I can easily burn through a lot of money. It has a very large selection and the customer service is great.

Unfortunately, given that gas is about $4.29 around these parts, I very seldom make it to Green Bay and rely on Amazon for most of my game purchases.
 
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Mauro Bertozzi
Bulgaria
Sofia
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A nice place, feels like being at home when you are looking trough the catalogue, and they are so nice to even deliver the game you bought right to your place. They even pack it, so it seems a bit of a gift.
 
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Peter Neely
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Columbia
Missouri
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This post is longer than I anticipated, my apologies!

I'm in Columbia, Missouri, and there are three stores that I'm aware of. For a college town (Univ. of MO, Columbia College and Stephens College; plus a smattering of satellite campuses from other schools), this isn't too bad. The first store (and the biggest):

Valhalla's Gate:www.Valhallasgate.com. They have recently expanded in size, the area is well lit, roomy and and generally a pretty comfortable atmosphere. They focus heavily on Magic: The Gathering and Miniature wargaming, however they have a fairly impressive stock of board games. They host a wide variety of events, and I tend to game there (Castles and Crusades rpg) about twice a month. I would purchase from them directly more often, but their prices are not competitive at all and can tend to be a little steep. However, I imagine they make a killing on selling booster boxes of magic, and probably rake in a small fee for hosting FNM and meetup groups that reserve their rooms. Advertising and imagery isn't excessive, there's a few Warhammer banners, standups, etc. But I haven't really noticed anything else. This store has been in Columbia for a while now (maybe 10 years?), it's got a pretty good group of regulars and seems to be well supported. I'm happy with it and the employees are generally a pretty decent lot. I've gamed with the owners once and they are an exceptionally nice bunch. The store tries to market as family friendly, so no excessively crass games like Cards Against Humanity.

The other store: Magelings https://www.facebook.com/Magelings?fref=ts is a fairly new store on the other side of town. It's much smaller but I hope it succeeds. It has a significantly smaller stock, but the prices are more competitive than Valhallas's Gate. For instance, I saw a very nice used copy of Earth Reborn for $25. New games are usually marked lower than the other store. The interior of the store is decent, not great. No carpet, adequate amount of play space and decent lighting. The owner is extremely personable and you can tell he wants your business, which I appreciate. I might make a purchase here in the near future just for this reason. The shop has a standard amount of advertising, mostly for things like Warhammer, M:Tg, etc. and it seems focused on hosting events for ccg's and miniature wargaming. They have very little, if any RPG support. The exterior of the store is horrible however. It's on a lower level in the back end of a building with a poorly paved parking lot with a very steep incline. You could easily miss the store if you aren't looking for it, which is too bad, hopefully he will be able to relocate in the future to a more optimal location.

And finally there's Rock Bottom Comics, which sells mostly comic books and magic cards. That's about it. Prices are fair, but there isn't really a 'game community' that I'm aware of for that store. It's mostly comic iconography, fairly well-lit and has been in the business for a very, very long time (It's been here as long as I can remember and I've lived here for 33 years). When I was younger, the owner was a chain-smoking dude that would make sure you weren't looking at the 18+ comics and had exuded a distrust of kids, but he was in reality a pretty decent fellah. I'm not sure if he still runs the shop, he may have passed away.

After all that, I'm not sure Columbia could support another game store. We've had reincarnations of a some game stores that have appeared and disappeared over and over again for as long as I have lived here - one store went in and out of business like 4 or 5 times in a space of 10 or 15 years before disappearing completely.
 
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Chris Morse
United States
Stoughton
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techlacroix wrote:
I am located in Marshfield, ma. The three stores in my area are

Medieval Starship
Clean, attractive and friendly. Owner is a games workshop fan and Cthulhu fan. Every Sunday noon to five is board game day. It is free and you can bring and play your own games. They have about 50 to 100 games in stock. This place is the friendliest and geekiest on my list, all workers and owners are gamers and love to play games. It is located in Pembroke ma.

Scholars
Old RPGs books are piled here like an homage to days past. It is fairly clean and well lit. They have a Friday night board game night twice a month. The magic players are there as well and can be loud, but its fun to take up seating that they would have otherwise. They charge $5 for the gaming night and give you $8 store credit for it. The selection is 30-80 games it is located in Bridgewater, ma

Battleground
Battleground is magic centric, but they love to go to cons like pax east. They tend to have the largest selection, but they don't have a board game day or night. The place is fairly clean, but with lots of magic players around all the time. This one may have the odd smells. They have about 70-150 games in stock. Because they don't host any board game fun I usually don't buy from them.

I'm guessing you're speaking of the Battleground in Abington? Never been there, but I have been to their other store in Plainville. In addition to Magic, there seems to be a strong regular crowd of RPG'ers and miniature players.

But the BEST thing is the monthly board game event. Every second Wednesday of the month, Rob Kircher and friends from Total Con are there all day (noon - 10pm) playing board games. I can't go all day (damn day job!) but I get there as soon as I can after work and it's a great time!

Oh, and thanks for posting about Scholars and Medieval Starship. I'm looking forward to checking them out.
 
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David Janik-Jones
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
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Fan-freaking-tastic.

I have one of Canada's finest brick-and-mortar board stores not a five minute walk from my office, J&J in Waterloo, Ontario. Extremely good prices for brick-and-mortar, and really friendly and knowledgeable staff and owners always there to help. Can not say enough good things about them.
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Thomas Lang
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Game Store? You mean those things that sell Monopoly and Settlers, right? But seriously... There is, as far as I know only ONE store in the whole Munich area that has at least a couple of decent games and it is dingy and not very inviting. Shops in the US have playing areas? Get the f*** out of here. I've never seen something like that in Germany, even though it might exist. Not in Munich however (which takes me an hour to get to anyway what with living in the backwoods and stuff....) ... Munich is like a boardgaming third world country.
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Hank Loyd
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Owasso
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Just an FYI. Game chest has been closed for like a year, unless they relocated.
 
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Charles Bame
United States
Flagstaff
Arizona
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We finally have a game store in Flagstaff, Arizona. It is atractivly decorated and has lots of room for game playing including an upstairs room with tables for miniature games. The stock of board games is fair.

Unfortunately, it has become one of those stores where nearly everyone who comes in plays only M:TG or 40K. That's my impression, amyway. I guess that's how they make their money. whistle

They are very nice people and I have no complaints about attitudes, etc. I just wish more people were interested in board games. shake



 
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Bobby Clark
United States
Frisco
Texas
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Madness Comics and Games in Plano, TX on Custer. They have the best selection of games I have found in a local store. They are expanding into an old Plant Pizza location soon, so even more space. Great store. Lots of stuff, collectibles, comics, miniatures and more. Staff friendliness can vary, but generally positive.
 
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Ryan Meeker
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Camano Island
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I live in northern Colorado, and there are a number of game stores in the region that all have their strengths and weaknesses.

The first is a store that feels painfully out of touch with the hobby. The spiel de jahres are on one shelf, and everything else is scattered higgledy piggledy around the joint. Prices are pretty much msrp, and game inquiries are met with, "I can order that," which is fine, but I can order it too, and at a significant savings. There is a gaming area, but it isn't what I'd call inviting.

Store number two is clean, relatively well stocked, roomy enough, and the staff is friendly and relatively well informed. In short, it's a good game store. I wish I could figure out why I don't like going in there... but I don't. It lacks soul.

Store number three is clean, a bit cramped, offers a coffee bar, and has a few tables available for those interested in taking advantage of their gaming library. Where this place stumbles is in customer service. Everyone - the owner included - is a bit caustic to deal with. I really tried to like this one, but I aint going back.

Store number four caters to the trinity of comics, collectibles (baseball cards, ccgs, sports memorabilia, etc.) and boardgames. The employees are friendly and knowledgeable, and the prices are less than msrp. If they special order something, they knock 20% off the price. There is a small space for playing games amidst all the stock, but when there is a crowd in there, it smells like satan's dong. This is my favorite store in the region, but I make it a point to avoid the busy times out of sheer terror.

Store number five is a bit of a drive, and that's a shame. It offers a nice amount of play space, a selection that focuses on quality over quantity, and it's located next to a Subway, so it smells like, well, Subway. The owner seems like a good enough fellow, and he's never been anything but congenial.

I love going to game stores, and it always leads to a "If I ran that store, I'd do it THIS way..." conversation on the way home.

For me, I am willing to forgive a lot if it seems like the owner/employees give a damn. Sadly, not every one does.

 
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Alex Gagnon
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