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Subject: In Memoriam: My Friendly Local Game Store rss

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Stephen Hall
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Tucson
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For as long as I can remember, I have loved Game Daze, my friendly local game store. I have spent many hours and many dollars there in my time. For years and years, I would look forward to going in and browsing all the fun merchandise they had in stock. I have many memories of being in that environment, and it holds a special place in my heart.

And now, they are going out of business.

I feel much more personally affected by this than I should. It is, after all, just a store. I have seen stores go out of business before (RIP, Atomic Comics), so this is nothing new. But somehow, deep down, it's like I'm losing an old friend.

Seeing Game Daze close has made me notice an interesting Catch-22 currently happening in the industry. Over the last five to ten years, we have seen a major boom in the hobby game market. Thanks to a widespread desire for the simple enjoyment of good company, a search for mental stimulation and (usually) healthy competition, and a sense of nostalgia for a more unplugged time, board games are becoming big business. With the advent of Kickstarter, BoardGameGeek, and other special-interest communities, gamers now have means to network, share knowledge, learn about upcoming releases, buy/sell/trade, and spread the love of the hobby.

However, amidst this industry boom, when it seems like retailers should be doing better than ever, they are closing their doors. Amazon and other e-commerce outlets have made it extremely difficult for small-time stores to compete. Game Daze is selling a game at MSRP? You can bet that the big-wigs like Cool Stuff Inc, Troll and Toad, and Funagain Games all have that same item for half that price. Especially as companies like Amazon are providing faster and faster shipping, why would anyone NOT buy from them? Because you want to support a local business? Okay, fair enough. But would you honestly pay sometimes double the Amazon price to support that local business? If so, you're a better person than I.

In retrospect, there were signs that Game Daze was hurting long before they officially announced their closure. Signs with statements like, "If you buy it on Amazon, it may be cheaper, but if you buy it here, you can play it tonight." Or all those big sales they had. Or all the game nights and events they hosted to try to get people through their doors. If I look back, these seems to have been a long time coming.

It is with a melancholy heart that I bid farewell to Game Daze. Thank you, Game Daze, for all the memories. Thank you for being integral in getting me into the hobby all those years ago. You will be missed.

As the face of the industry changes, let us not forget our friendly local game stores.

Originally posted at www.antimonopoly.wordpress.com
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Reggie Young
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I agree. You must support the local game store, but they must have sales and specials in order to stay competitive. I go to my gamestore. Game Kastle, 2-3 times a week to play games. I always try buy a soda, magazine or a game. It is a place to meet new friends who share your love of games. Stores must be creative and show the same kind of loyalty to their customers. Support your local game store or you won't have a good place to play and meet people casually. Also it is a place to demo games to see if you like them BEFORE you buy them!!!! Game store owners have a responsibility to their customers to have sales, discount specials, demo new games, get information about new games to potential customers, and create a FUN environment for the gaming experience.The game store consumers have a responsibility to support the store or else, there WON't be a place to play, meet new friends, demo/watch new games etc.

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Rowdy Scarlett
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I'd love to go to my FLGS more, but
1) Boardgames are an after thought. They have them, but the "boardgame night" is on Mondays. Rest of the week is for RPGs, X-Wing and cardgames.

2) The boardgames they DO carry seem to never change. They DID get in one copy of OGRE (which sold very quickly, it looks like).

3)So, I order online and attend local Boardgame Meet Ups. The meetups usually have 20-40 people showing up (at pubs, coffee shops, etc) and locally, there are over 100 interested in boardgames. I can game three to four nights a week if I want just through Meet Up.

IMHO, the local shop isn't interested in the boardgamers, so why support them?
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Mel
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That's really a bummer. It makes me kind of sad. I still try to support my local game store when I can and my favorite "Powell's Books" because they also have board games. There have been times when I could get the game for less at my board game store, but not always. Sometimes it wouldn't be much more. What I like about the game store is the atmosphere of all those games and people in the back playing. I can check the box for damage and pick up the box, and sometimes I can see games I'd never noticed on Boardgamegeek too.

Some things that will hurt Amazon are people scalping the prices of the games and who wouldn't want to make a profit. I've also had damaged boxes which I really hate (although they'll take them back), but I'd rather pay the extra 10 bucks for the good box at the store, and take it home right away than deal with caved boxes, damaged corners, and other such noncentz.

If I didn't have such distrust in the handling of my personal games I know deep down that if I sponsored meetups at the local game store it would help keep them in business. I guarantee Robinson Crusoe isn't leaving the house. Roads & Boats isn't leaving the house. No way!

Aside from all that though, it is a real bummer to see a loved brick and mortar game store sail down the river and over the falls.

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Boaty McBoatface
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sparky7139 wrote:
I agree. You must support the local game store, but they must have sales and specials in order to stay competitive. I go to my gamestore. Game Kastle, 2-3 times a week to play games. I always try buy a soda, magazine or a game. It is a place to meet new friends who share your love of games. Stores must be creative and show the same kind of loyalty to their customers. Support your local game store or you won't have a good place to play and meet people casually. Also it is a place to demo games to see if you like them BEFORE you buy them!!!! Game store owners have a responsibility to their customers to have sales, discount specials, demo new games, get information about new games to potential customers, and create a FUN environment for the gaming experience.The game store consumers have a responsibility to support the store or else, there WON't be a place to play, meet new friends, demo/watch new games etc.

All very fine, but game stores often (not always, I know some right tossers) operate with very low profit margins. Like (happens in this country with bookshops) the large retailers can often sell product for less then small retailers can buy it for.

Shops are not charities or public utilities, they are business that have to provide their owners with a living, why is some going to work 10 hours a day 6 days a week for less then they can work 40 hours a week in an office for?
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Mike Mead
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Are all Game Daze stores going out of business, or just the Tucson locations?
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Ubergeek
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I don't see Amazon as the issue. The real culprit is Kickstart which is hurting FLGS's, for a few reasons. Despite how much you think board gaming has grown, it's still comparatively a niche hobby. When a game kickstarts, the bulk of interest in that game is already committed so by the time it gets to a FLGS, the interest has waned unless it's really good. That equates to fewer sales.

That brings up the "what's good" issue. Better than 50% of kickstarter games are truly crap products to serious gamers. No doubt they're someone's labor of love but outside of an even smaller group of gamers that committed to it it won't do much but take up shelf space at an FLGS. And if you're not turning new and popular products, you can't afford to have limited space eaten up by duds. And if by chance a KS game is really popular, good luck trying to get the quantities you need from either the publisher or distributor. There probably aren't enough to go around at one game a store if everyone in the country is scrambling for it.

But Kickstart isn't going to go away so retailers need to be aware of the issue and develop a counter strategy, or perhaps hedge bets on what is going to succeed as a KS and buy into it at the retailer level in KS which a lot of them are allowing.

Also, any boardgame store that isn't invested in a repeat money maker or have another venue very likely won't survive. Magic, Pokemon, Yu-gi-o bring in more repeat money than boardgames and RPG combined. Big name miniatures from GW and FoW, and collectible or constructible mini games do the same with new armies, figures, and extras. Sell a boardgame and that's it. You sold a boardgame.

Local support is very important as well. If you don't run tournaments, game nights, etc. you won't get the repeat customers you need. That takes space and extra hours. Square footage isn't cheap.

And the biggest killer of any small business is probably retail rental costs and overhead like utilities and Obamacare. Even dedicated parking should be a consideration. If you don't own the space, it is upwards of $3000 a month conservatively for a small strip mall store in a crappy location. Good luck surviving on selling boardgames alone.

But despite all that, FLGS's can and do survive and flourish. We have three major ones in Portland (OR) that I can recall being around for at least the past twenty years or so. And most of the reason is due to savvy business operators with diverse marketing strategies. I've also seen two major game stores in the area fail in that time period. Mostly for lack of reasons cited above or the retail space got too expensive and ate all the profits.

In the end however, it's success or failure of an FLGS rests with the owner running the business. You can try to lay blame on low-cost online retailers like CSI, MM, TWS, or even Amazon, but those are just easy targets when in fact the issues go much deeper.
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Isaac Finkelstein
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I doubt Kickstarter is much of an issue yet, as their relative volume is probably still pretty tiny. And Obamacare has zero effect as it does not impact small businesses yet or anytime soon.
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tim thorson
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Actually kickstarter does affect them. The last few queen games I had 3-6 months before my FLGS and they included expansions. Zombicide stuff was all from kickstarter. All my sentinels if the multiverse was from kickstarter. He tried ordering for his shoppers but many have it in their hands before he does.
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Paul Sauberer
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There was a thread about this in the General Gaming forum a couple of weeks ago. The OP wasn't as fond of Game Daze as you are.

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1113686/another-local-game-s...

As Walt noted above, game stores can survive and thrive. It's a matter of how the business is run.
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Stephen Hall
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machosancho wrote:
Are all Game Daze stores going out of business, or just the Tucson locations?

Sadly, it's the entire company, so all stores. cry

Psauberer wrote:
There was a thread about this in the General Gaming forum a couple of weeks ago. The OP wasn't as fond of Game Daze as you are.

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1113686/another-local-game-s...

As Walt noted above, game stores can survive and thrive. It's a matter of how the business is run.

Interesting. I can't say that I shared most of these experiences. There were a few employees I met who were somewhat less than helpful, but overall, my memories are mostly find ones.
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Stephen Hall
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The effect of Kickstarter certainly trickles down to affect retailers. And I agree that many KS projects turn out to be stinkers. I distinctly remember seeing several different KS games (Empires of the Void, for instance) sitting on Game Daze clearance shelves for a loooong time.

Moreover, KS has created a giant new outlet for gamers' money. Before KS, gamers' "game funds" probably went to their FLGS's, or maybe Amazon, in recent years. Now, there is a huge website with dozens of other projects to thin my wallet. To say that this doesn't affect retailers seems completely absurd. It is the basic economic principle of competition.
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Jacovis
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sparky7139 wrote:
I agree. You must support the local game store, but they must have sales and specials in order to stay competitive. I go to my gamestore. Game Kastle, 2-3 times a week to play games. I always try buy a soda, magazine or a game. It is a place to meet new friends who share your love of games. Stores must be creative and show the same kind of loyalty to their customers. Support your local game store or you won't have a good place to play and meet people casually. Also it is a place to demo games to see if you like them BEFORE you buy them!!!! Game store owners have a responsibility to their customers to have sales, discount specials, demo new games, get information about new games to potential customers, and create a FUN environment for the gaming experience.The game store consumers have a responsibility to support the store or else, there WON't be a place to play, meet new friends, demo/watch new games etc.


If there was a game store like Game Kastle here in Vegas I'd spend time and money there. Every time I go to the Bay Area I stop in there. Selection, friendly staff, events. The place is great. In Vegas we have nothing like it, so I'm not inclined to spend my time or money at any of the places that barely give a damn if board gamers even exist.
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Larry Thorne

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Local game stores and distributors just need to refuse to stock games after they Kickstart.
Buying games at the supposed retailer level is just ridiculous. You can't run a store and give cash to a game a year in advance.
Ogre is the best example. My FLGS sold it to me for $70. That's after ACD got its cut. They sold a few and didn't have to invest for 16 months.
KS is just plain bad for business and the serious gamer in the long run.

If it wasn't for speculators the limited edition add ons would be in the box already or made into an expansion. Zombicide just makes me wonder where the insanity will end. The game is good but the Kickstarter only addons just destroy the whole game collection fun.

Yes, I bought Ogre. The limited 6 extra KS sheets really stinks. Put a Vulcan slot in the box but don't let your game buyer have it unless they give you a Free loan to produce it. Get real. I love the game but the concept will only alienate the masses in the end.

Do what you want, but here I won't Kickstart again. I know it's everyone's personal choice to spend their money. I have done 7 or 8 myself but it's not right for me.
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Kirk Bauer
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I think we need more innovation from the FLGS. I buy most of my games online, but I bought most of my games from my FLGS when I lived near Myriad Games. The reason is they had some pretty neat benefits.

You choose a monthly amount that is automatically charged on your card and deposited into your account. Based on this monthly amount, you get various benefits, such as:

1) "Free" matching funds (e.g. 20%)
2) Annual rebate (get a bunch of money in your account at the end of the year)
3) A place to play with some free snacks
4) For me, the most important, was a game borrowing system, where at any given time I could have one game at home that I didn't own yet.

The last benefit was really nice. I tend to buy a lot of games I haven't played because it looks cool and I like to try new ones. When I lived near Myriad, I'd just borrow it, play it, and then either keep it (and pay for it, then borrow a new one) or return it. Very convenient.
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Ken B.
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Walt Mulder wrote:

And the biggest killer of any small business is probably retail rental costs and overhead like utilities and Obamacare.


Really? I just thought it was a meme, but now Obama is killing game stores too.


DAMN YOU OBAMA~!

shake


To the OP--I feel your pain. I know where just about every game store over the past two decades or store has been in my area, and even years later you can drive by and still feel an old pang, wishing the place was still there. We only have two stores left, one carries a decent selection of boardgames and the other is great for Magic but only has a tiny handful of board games for sale.

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Jason Hartloff
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My LFGS sends out a coupon each month, for 25% off your entire purchase. All you need to do is print it out, and can use it as much as you want for the month. When it expires, they send a new one. Once the other store I go to heard about this, he told me he would match it. Now, there is a reason they can do this, and it's the markup. I know that the store would not offer 25% off then lose money on it, and I have heard that final retail markup could be as much as 55% (just what I was told by one of the owners, but not on all items). That being said, I think there is some wiggle room. So many times, a store will get a game in, slap MSRP on it, then complain that you buy from a discount online place. Well, yeah, I did! But, for 25% off, it may still be a few dollars more, but I am not paying shipping, and I get instant satisfaction, so it is a win/win for me. Those stores are doing very well. I think that the owners just need to look at ways to be viable in the market.
 
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James Cowling
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Kickstarter is not hurting smart FLGSs. KS is 5% of the board game market, as has been discussed in many other threads.

And I, as a FLGS, have made money on every single one of the "retailer pack" pledge levels I've bought in for, in my little store in the middle of the wilderness.
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Jon Baxter
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FLGS have a hard time, seen half a dozen close in as many years.
 
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