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Subject: It's Good to Have a FLGS rss

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Adam Bruski
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I live in Midland, Michigan which is, as its name might imply, about dead center in the middle of the state's lower penninsula. It is a great palce to live, but it is not the type of popuation center necessary to support a ton of "friendly local game stores". To date, actual board game and RPG retailers were very limited. That changed recently when I finally got around to visiting The Board Room http://theboardroomgamecenter.com located in Saginaw. The place is just what you ask for in a store: a good in-stock selection of board, mini, and RP games; a helpful proprietor (Aaron); and regular open gaming sessions with tons of tables and room to play. There is even a snack bar - nice touch.

If you're in the area, I of course encourage you to visit. The larger point, however, is that no matter where you live - seek these places out. They are great sources of not just games but knowlege and community. And when you find one you like, support it. You might be able to get the game more cheaply online but isn't it worth a couple of extra dollars staying in your community to maintain these resources? After all, if games are exercises in social interaction why wouldn't we do everything we can to have places to play?

My site: http://rules-lawyer.com
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Joe Salamone
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adbruski wrote:
You might be able to get the game more cheaply online but isn't it worth a couple of extra dollars staying in your community to maintain these resources? After all, if games are exercises in social interaction why wouldn't we do everything we can to have places to play?

I live in a suburb north of Boston. There are a few FLGS within reasonable driving distance of my house. Unfortunately, most of them don't carry much inventory and, in general, they are significantly more expensive than online retailers. I can sometimes save $20 or more per game by shopping online. So I really can't justify making purchases in these stores unless they have something in stock that I MUST have at that very moment. Probably the most "famous" store in my area is THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY in Cambridge, MA. The last time I tried to go there was around January 2 or 3, 2009. The store was closed and they were taking inventory. I was sort of upset because I drove all the way into Cambridge and had to park at a parking meter about 6 blocks from the store. When I got to the store I saw the sign, "closed for inventory" and I saw a guy inside counting games. He just looked at me through the window and shook his head as if to say, "sorry." So I trudged back to my car and went home. Just my opinion, but stores should do their inventory counts after hours rather than closing on a normal business day. I probably would haved spent at least $100 in there that day. Instead, I'll probably never go back unless I happen to be in Cambridge for another reason.
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Caleb
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That's pretty lousy. Inventories should definitely be after-hours.
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Cathleen Feduke
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I just looked at the website for Games People Play in Cambridge. They're open 7 days a week. Judging by pictures of the store I suspect they have a lot of inventory to count. Short of inventing time travel, most of us FLGS cannot reasonably do our inventory during "off" hours. I'm sure they're sorry for the inconvenience to you but next year I suggest you call ahead before your trek to a game store right after the new year.
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Joe Salamone
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GameVaultVirginia wrote:
I just looked at the website for Games People Play in Cambridge. They're open 7 days a week. Judging by pictures of the store I suspect they have a lot of inventory to count. Short of inventing time travel, most of us FLGS cannot reasonably do our inventory during "off" hours. I'm sure they're sorry for the inconvenience to you but next year I suggest you call ahead before your trek to a game store right after the new year.

Or they could post a message on their website saying, "We will be closed for inventory on January 2."
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Caleb
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GameVaultVirginia wrote:
I just looked at the website for Games People Play in Cambridge. They're open 7 days a week. Judging by pictures of the store I suspect they have a lot of inventory to count. Short of inventing time travel, most of us FLGS cannot reasonably do our inventory during "off" hours. I'm sure they're sorry for the inconvenience to you but next year I suggest you call ahead before your trek to a game store right after the new year.


Um, what? Seriously, it should be incumbent upon the customer to anticipate an inventory closure during normal business hours for a store that advertises as "Open 7 days a week"? What planet do you live on again? I may want to visit there some day.

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Anton der Grosse
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Better call first. The planet might be closed.
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Cathleen Feduke
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I understand. You must be the only person who matters in your world.
Did that disappointed, infrequent customer check the website? I didn't see a mention of "I checked the website and there was no mention of this store closure." I would think the store would have posted that. If they didn't then it is in fact on them. I suspect they did though. It is not unreasonable to expect a privately run small retail store to be closed for inventory in the week after New Years. In your world the store owner and employees should have called every potential customer personally to warn them? Would that suit you? Probably not.
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Joe Salamone
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GameVaultVirginia wrote:
I understand. You must be the only person who matters in your world.
Did that disappointed, infrequent customer check the website? I didn't see a mention of "I checked the website and there was no mention of this store closure." I would think the store would have posted that. If they didn't then it is in fact on them. I suspect they did though. It is not unreasonable to expect a privately run small retail store to be closed for inventory in the week after New Years. In your world the store owner and employees should have called every potential customer personally to warn them? Would that suit you? Probably not.

I did check the website because I needed to confirm the business hours and address. There was no notification of the store being closed for inventory (unless it was buried somewhere on the website . . . it certainly wasn't mentioned anywhere near the business hours). I didn't really intend for this to open a big can of worms. Just saying it would have been nice for the website to mention that the store would be closed that day. Plenty of retail stores count their inventory after hours. This isn't a concept that I just invented today.
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LSU LSU
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GameVaultVirginia wrote:
I understand. You must be the only person who matters in your world.
Did that disappointed, infrequent customer check the website? I didn't see a mention of "I checked the website and there was no mention of this store closure." I would think the store would have posted that. If they didn't then it is in fact on them. I suspect they did though. It is not unreasonable to expect a privately run small retail store to be closed for inventory in the week after New Years. In your world the store owner and employees should have called every potential customer personally to warn them? Would that suit you? Probably not.

I'm sorry Cathleen, but your attitude is absurd. There is no reason to be so dimissive of the OP. In my town, there are a number of small businesses that operate like this. The prevailing culture of the town looks down on people who shop at "chain stores" but the local shops have very short, often irregular hours and cannot be bothered to go the extra mile for customers.

And contrary to your claim, it is totally unreasonable to think that a business will close for a week at any point during the year - especially without notice. I get that running a small business is hard work - but no one made the business owner do it. And plenty of other jobs require hard work as well, and long hours - which make it difficult to shop at a store that is rarely open. If I spend some of my valuable time to go to a store to find that they are closed during normal operating hours AND that the owner is inside, but unwilling to talk to me or let me pay him for a product - don't expect me to come back. I'd much rather buy online for 40% cheaper.
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Caleb
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LSUtigers wrote:
There is no reason to be so dimissive of the OP.


Actually, I think the dismissiveness was directed at my snarky comment, not against the original poster

But yeah, basically, when you get treatment like that (and responses like that), you have to wonder how these people stay in business.
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Pete Lane
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Yikes... looks like you did open a can Joe...

Being a retail manager for 8 years of my life I can see both sides... small shops are short staffed and time is precious. However there is nothing wrong with updating a website telling people they would be closed. I'm sure Joe's not the only one who stopped by and was disapointed... esp considering we are a community that will travel hundreds of miles to support a local FLGS (I do whenever I travel).

In my days I've certainly had many experiences where the customer isn't always "right." However, I'm a big shocked to see Game Vault take such a hostile tone. No matter the size, it's more common to see all kinds of shops do inventory outside of shop hours than it is the opposite... I don't think anyone here is asking for anything unreasonable.
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LSU LSU
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cannoneer wrote:
LSUtigers wrote:
There is no reason to be so dimissive of the OP.


Actually, I think the dismissiveness was directed at my snarky comment, not against the original poster

But yeah, basically, when you get treatment like that (and responses like that), you have to wonder how these people stay in business.

Actually, I think she was mad at Joe for daring to assume a store be open, when, you know, it says it will be open.

I think the answer is that a lot of people running business like this don't stay in business, and many of the ones that do do not make much money. To a certain extent, they also stay in business because hobbyists feel guilty buying elsewhere. The same is true for small bookstores that often do not actually add value over Barnes and Noble (often, not always!). Just because a business is small does not mean it is friendly or filled with experts that a big store doesn't have.
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Pete Lane
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LSUtigers wrote:

I think the answer is that a lot of people running business like this don't stay in business, and many of the ones that do do not make much money. To a certain extent, they also stay in business because hobbyists feel guilty buying elsewhere. The same is true for small bookstores that often do not actually add value over Barnes and Noble (often, not always!). Just because a business is small does not mean it is friendly or filled with experts that a big store doesn't have.

Ninja edit there LSU... thanks for re-wording.

I think the time old FLGS vs online will always exist in every genre of retail. I was a manager for a CD shop and people would moan and moan about how they could buy cds for $5 cheaper at Target... but yet Target sells the cd at cost and makes up the loss selling people 300% markups on Pepsi and clothing. They didn't care that Target didn't even CARRY the sellection I did, so long as they could theoretically buy it somewhere else for $5 less.

Could have I marked down the price? No, not really. Things like rent and bigger staffing, and insurance cost a heck of a lot more than an online retailer usually has to face. Heck, even Target.com has sales that normal Target stores WON'T match because of this.

So yeah, the FLGS might be a big evil in many people's eyes, but in other's it is shops like CSI and TH that come off looking like Wal Mart...
 
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LSU LSU
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stagger lee wrote:
LSUtigers wrote:

I think the answer is that a lot of people running business like this don't stay in business, and many of the ones that do do not make much money. To a certain extent, they also stay in business because hobbyists feel guilty buying elsewhere. The same is true for small bookstores that often do not actually add value over Barnes and Noble (often, not always!). Just because a business is small does not mean it is friendly or filled with experts that a big store doesn't have.

Ninja edit there LSU... thanks for re-wording.

I think the time old FLGS vs online will always exist in every genre of retail. I was a manager for a CD shop and people would moan and moan about how they could buy cds for $5 cheaper at Target... but yet Target sells the cd at cost and makes up the loss selling people 300% markups on Pepsi and clothing. They didn't care that Target didn't even CARRY the sellection I did, so long as they could theoretically buy it somewhere else for $5 less.

Could have I marked down the price? No, not really. Things like rent and bigger staffing, and insurance cost a heck of a lot more than an online retailer usually has to face. Heck, even Target.com has sales that normal Target stores WON'T match because of this.

So yeah, the FLGS might be a big evil in many people's eyes, but in other's it is shops like CSI and TH that come off looking like Wal Mart...

Pete, not sure what you were referring to exactly - I didn't edit my post.

Anyways, I agree with your general point of view. I certainly don't think local shops are the enemy. I just don't have a lot of experience with the "friendly" in FLGS. And I don't think that local and small is intrinsically better than not-local or large. If you want to be a FLGS or a friendly music or book store, you need to offer something more or different that what I can get elsewhere. I don't think you or anyone else should get my business just because you aren't target, for example.

There are three local "game stores" in my area. One sells games, trains, magic, miniatures, etc. The others are basically comic stores that carry a few games. They barely even say hi when I come in the store. Walmart greets me more friendly than they do. Their prices are actually above MSRP in some cases and they can't tell me anything about the games. When I called ahead to ask if they had a new game in stock they couldn't even tell me. Why should I shop there? On the other hand, when I e-mailed Boards and Bits about a game I was hoping to add to a large order I got a response in hours and my games showed up in just a couple of days in perfect shape.
 
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Terry
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I agree... I'm not sure why people around here insist on calling game stores "FLGS". They're game stores. I am sure that each one has its own character, own personality, and greatly varying level of F.

Sure, some (maybe many) are "friendly", but friendliness is something that is earned. Just because you're a game store doesn't make you any friendlier than an online outfit. There are also varying levels of friendliness within a particular store -- their return policies, knowledge in specific genres, prices, gaming areas, etc etc. To have a list of "these stores are friendly" is far too simplistic.

Some of my experiences with people at Rio Grande Games and Boards and Bits and others have been very "friendly". All consumer facing organizations had better be friendly.

The larger problem with LGSs is that online prices continue to decrease as bulk-discounters like Tanga can push insanely low prices. Watch the "Buying and Selling" BGG forum and you will see many popular games appear at bargain prices all over the place.

For example, Gates of Loyang sold for ~$25 last week on Tanga (including shipping!). I checked my LGS the other day (which happens to be friendly, which one would expect from a consumer store), and they were selling it for $50. There are many such examples of the disconnect between LGS prices and online prices. A little patience online can get you huge savings over every single product in a LGS.

While I am willing to pay perhaps 10% more at a local store because I value their presence in the community and the ability to enjoy browsing physical games, I'm not going to pay 100% of the price for a game in a store. It's just not going to happen.

p.s. I think the claim above that one should be expected to "phone ahead" (or check a a website) to ask whether a LGS is choosing to avoid customers in order to count boxes during regular published business hours is ridiculous.

 
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Adam Bruski
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As the originator of this thread, I guess I would revise the title slightly to be more clear about my point of view. How about, "It's Good to Have a GOOD FLGS"?

I agree with both sides of the argument on this one. A local gaming store which does not provide any added value (or worse, it frustrating to deal with) should not be supported by our gaming dollars. If you are not getting good advice, knowledgable service, and/or community benefits from your LGS, ditch them and fire up Amazon... But if you are receiving those benefits, acknowledge and help to ensure their continuation with your board game bucks.

I too have experienced shoddy local retailers, which I guess was the impetus for my post in the first place - personal excitement at finding the "F" in FLGS and a throw out to the BGG community to reward excellence (and punish failure...)

 
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Pete Lane
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LSUtigers wrote:

Anyways, I agree with your general point of view. I certainly don't think local shops are the enemy. I just don't have a lot of experience with the "friendly" in FLGS.

I think that is indeed where many people scope either side they fall. If their local shop is awesome, they will go out of their way to support them... if they are rude or selfish... off to the internet. I travel A LOT and always pop into shops while visiting new places. I've walked into some that were highly recomended and spent all of 5 mins in the shop because the vibe was so bad. I've also been in some where the owners went out of their way to make sure I was happy even though the store was packed.

As for my ninja edit comment, it looks like someone had made a rude comment and deleted it. I hit "reply" and it gave me an error, went back and hit reply again and took me to your post, which had a similar, but nicely worded version of the same opinion.
 
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Cathleen Feduke
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LSUtigers wrote:

I'm sorry Cathleen, but your attitude is absurd. There is no reason to be so dimissive of the OP.

I was not dismissive of the OP, I was responding to these:

cannoneer wrote:
Um, what? Seriously, it should be incumbent upon the customer to anticipate an inventory closure during normal business hours for a store that advertises as "Open 7 days a week"? What planet do you live on again? I may want to visit there some day.

Anton der Grosse wrote:
Better call first. The planet might be closed.

The original post about the store being closed did not mention that he checked the website, just that he drove to a store he infrequently visits and found it was closed. He has since said he did check the website. I too would expect it to be on the website and would be disappointed to drive so far to be turned away while people are in the store. I would never run my business like that and can't imagine one as old and successful as the store mentioned would not list a scheduled day of inventory on their website. Also, I do open my doors every Monday to the 3-5 customers who haven't learned we're closed on Mondays - if they catch me while I'm here cleaning and placing orders at odd hours during the day & night Monday.

LSUtigers wrote:
Actually, I think she was mad at Joe for daring to assume a store be open, when, you know, it says it will be open.

You would be making a bad assumption there LSU. The tone is for the majority of posts about a good FLGS turning into "my LGS sucks". Just let one go by without twisting a positive post about someone doing it right into how many do it wrong. We get it. Not all game stores are FLGS - but some are. Just please - let one thread about a positive experience at a local game store stay a positive thread. Just once.
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Pete Lane
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Thanks Cathleen... I agree... let's keep it positive. Some great experiences in my travels:

http://www.sourcecomicsandgames.com/
The Source Comics and Games
Minneapolis MN
Great and large store which features a large selection and a friendly knowledgeable staff that participates in the local Con scene.

www.ggportland.com
Guardian Games
Portland, OR
Extremely friendly and and fun shop. Great organization and known for both a bi-weekly game event and a "beer and pizza" night where 21+ gamers can enjoy all night gaming and treats!

http://www.gameempire.com/
Game Empire
San Diego, CA
Huge play space separate from the store itself, but clean and beautiful.

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Cathleen Feduke
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Thanks Pete.

Here's one near my mother's house in Worcester, MA:

http://www.whiznet.com/
The WhizThe Whiz
276 Boston Turnpike Road
Westborough, MA 01581

He's got a nice family run store with a variety of everything from $5 gifts & cards to a great selection of hard core board and minis games. He has something for everyone of all ages as well as space in the back for people to play.
 
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Chuck M
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I have lived in a large patch of the midwest most all of my life and have visited stores all over this area. I would have to say honestly that the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) offers the best gaming stores. Among these stores 3 of them really stand out for customer service and selection. I would have to give props to the Source Comics and Games, Tower Games, and Phoenix Games. All 3 stores have great staff and when I lived in the Twin Cities I was spoiled living 5 minutes from the Source.

Prior to that I lived in South Dakota and the closest "gaming" store was a 50 mile drive from my place. They called themselves a gaming store, but did not stock any games, no minis, and only a handful of RPG stuff (core 3.5 D&D books and some D20 modern) and a ton of comics.

I had to drive 100 miles to the next range of stores that I knew about in SD and actually had to go to Fargo ND where there was a few stores, but nothing that would compete as a "real" game store.

I now currently live in Brookings SD and have been delighted to find a store here called Brost's Aquarium and Hobby. While they do not stock unpainted minis they do sell tons of games, CCGs, CMGs, RPGs, and a variety of other gaming supplies. Their store owner Todd does a great job in ordering and also gives all customers a 20% off all boardgames and 10% off most everything else gaming related in the store. I have taken my board game business to him. I would recommend anyone in the Brookings area who wants a good gaming store to check this out. The only downside to this store is lack of playing area.
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Lance
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Gerrin wrote:

I had to drive 100 miles to the next range of stores that I knew about in SD and actually had to go to Fargo ND where there was a few stores, but nothing that would compete as a "real" game store.

I can back up this comment about Fargo, we haven't had a true gaming store since Bader's hobbies closed back in the early 80's.

Paradox Comics carries a fair amount of games now however, though their staff has absolutely no idea what they are or what is good - they would much rather BS with their friends about their Magic cards.

Hobby Hut in Moorehead has better service but almost no selection. They will order anything you ask for however.

If you are in my area, your best bet is J&J Games. A married couple that run an Ebay store and who also sell stuff here on the marketplace. They will order anything, give a 35% discount, and you save on the shipping. It doesn't hurt that they are just really nice people either.
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Robert C Branch
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"If you are in my area, your best bet is J&J Games. A married couple that run an Ebay store and who also sell stuff here on the marketplace. They will order anything, give a 35% discount, and you save on the shipping. It doesn't hurt that they are just really nice people either."

You sir are VERY lucky You have the best of both worlds. A brick and mortar store that offers online prices. SWEET! Wish I had a store near me that worked the same way. I would buy all of my their instead of online
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