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Subject: FLGS and Community. Do we really need them? rss

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Noneya Bidness
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In another thread about Asmodee pricing policies it was suggested that if all the FLGS burned down today it would only be a minor inconvenience to the Board Gaming Industry and things would just keep chugging along.

I’m pretty new here so I don’t know. I ask the question in the header with all honesty. Do these things really bring anything to the hobby?
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Paul DeStefano
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Yes.
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Justin Strickland
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Thanos007 wrote:
Do these things really bring anything to the hobby?


For most board gamers I would suspect no. But for Magic players, and miniatures gamers yes.
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Brad Keusch
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They absolutely do. Even with all the growth in the hobby, it is still SO small in the wider scheme of things. I have a friend who has a small retail shop in a high foot traffic area and EVERY day he is open he introduces multiple people into the hobby.
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Pete
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They could disappear tomorrow and it would take me months to notice. But two of my closest friends are regulars at their respective game stores.

Pete (thinks you can go on without a game store, but doesn't want people to have to)
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John E
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I guess it depends on your store and location.

We have several really great stores in the Raleigh/Durham area -- they run tons of events, have great staff and are well run. The places are usually packed and I feel they add quite a bit to the ecosystem of our hobby.

Although if your area only had 1 store though and it was dark, cramped, and run by a bunch of unwelcoming jerks then I could see how you might think the FLGS didn't really serve the community. I would say the store would also be out of business soon but if it is the only place in town to get magic cards and play magic events then it would probably still stick around.
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K S
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Thanos007 wrote:
Do these things really bring anything to the hobby?


Well, they brought me, soo...
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Christopher Hill
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Our group started small in 2005. We had three regular members and it was very difficult to find others to join us. In Wilmington, NC we had no FLGS at the time so we played mainly at someone's residence each week.

In 2007 a game store opened up. Yes, they were geared more to the Magic crowd, but it opened up others to our side of the hobby. The store did not stay in business very long and we went back to the seclusion of playing at home. We did however grow our group to around five or six regulars.

Then www.capefeargames.com/ opened in 2009. The owner and his staff are the most awesome, friendly people you could ever meet. And despite the fact Magic is their number one business product, they have always bent over backward to accommodate our board gaming community. Our group has grown tenfold since then and I must say CFG feels like an extension of family to me.

It seems like there is a very divided opinion about FLG stores here on the Geek. I for one am on the side of the fence that holds FLGS's in high regard. I have traveled and visited other stores around the US and in each and every one there seems to be the same friendly core of people both running the stores and frequenting as customers. I guess I am one of the lucky ones to not have experienced the 'bad' FLGS's out there.

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Jason Brown
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I play at and order games through my local FLGS so, yes, I'd miss it. The games cost more, but he doesn't charge to use his gaming space and library and he hosts demos, launch parties and sponsored play events, so it's my way of supporting and thanking him. Also, I've seen statistics that a vast majority, of game sales come via brick and mortar stores versus online. Really, the only people ordering from CSI and MM are us here on BGG, and we represent a very small proportion of the game buying public.

I asked my FLGS owner about it and he said that about 75% of his board game sales (he pushes a lot of CCGs too, as most B&M stores must) come from people who don't know Carcassone from Pandemic and are either buying a gift or just hearing about the hobby. And yes, he still sells Monopoly and Risk.
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Trevor Taylor
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wamsp wrote:
Thanos007 wrote:
Do these things really bring anything to the hobby?


Well, they brought me, soo...


Is that a positive or a negative? arrrh

I don't tend to drink (alcohol) very much. The only time I'll do it is when we have friends over, and less than half the time I have a board game night at home. I therefore have very little need for Pubs, but a great need for places other than pubs to sell alcohol.

If pubs shut down over night, in the short term, you would see far more sales of alcohol in shops. But I imagine that it would be very few quality ales and mostly big brand lager. I imagine quite quickly the industry of creating new quality ales would quickly dry up and I would soon find there are no new quality ales.

Not a perfect analogy, but I think it paints a reasonable picture.


PS. I'm sure many of us first going for a drink by going with friends to the pub. I doubt many would have done so if it was 'hey, do you want to come with me to the shop to buy some beer and then drink it at my house?'
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Yes.
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Doug Hook
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I don't. I browse and find what I might like here on BGG, not at a B&M place, then proceed to purchase. I haven't been to my FLGS in years even though it's in walking distance, but then so's my mailbox where games usually arrive.

And I won't rent a table!
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nat tact
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One FLGS has large meet ups. Another FLGS/board game library has a weekly playtest event for designers to show their games to new folk. Another FLGS has a designer meet up. It goes on and on. Also FLGS here are ran by gamers and hire gamers so the advice is legit.
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Dennis Engilis
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Without the FLGS that I visit regularly I wouldn't have met the great gaming friends I now have. We boardgame on Fridays and role-play every other Monday at the store. We also game at each other's houses.
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Trevor Taylor
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chadnorth wrote:
I don't. I browse and find what I might like here on BGG, not at a B&M place, then proceed to purchase. I haven't been to my FLGS in years even though it's in walking distance, but then so's my mailbox where games usually arrive.


Can I ask how you first got in to gaming? Also you said you've not been for years, did you tend to go more when you were new to the hobby?
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Chris Blackford
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I love all of my FLGS in the Dayton, OH area. I'm spoiled with 6 great, friendly stores near me, and they're the reason I entered the hobby in the first place.
I hate paying for shipping (and waiting for the games!) as I don't bulk buy games, so no free shipping for me. I'd much rather wander around a store picking up various games with friends, checking out boxes, talking to the staff, etc. than look at websites at home.
I appreciate the online retailers out there, I just don't spend enough on their sites to take advantage of free shipping. Every now and then a great sale may lead to a purchase, but I'd much rather throw my money at my local stores.
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William Chew
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I view shops similar to a job board. You get the best results with joining or adding new members to gaming groups through networking. But every so often you feel like burning your bridges and starting anew. You also have a harder time getting high quality candidates at game stores, but sometimes they are there. They are also very necessary for entry level gamers.
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Einmal ist keinmal
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It probably depends on the location. Here in the Boston metro area, there are plenty of gamers around, so I never need to step foot in a game store or visit their website.
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K S
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negatrev wrote:
wamsp wrote:
Thanos007 wrote:
Do these things really bring anything to the hobby?


Well, they brought me, soo...


Is that a positive or a negative? arrrh

sobluecry

negatrev wrote:
If pubs shut down over night, in the short term, you would see far more sales of alcohol in shops. But I imagine that it would be very few quality ales and mostly big brand lager. I imagine quite quickly the industry of creating new quality ales would quickly dry up and I would soon find there are no new quality ales.

Not a perfect analogy, but I think it paints a reasonable picture.

I actually think the analogy is quite good, because I also play most my games and drink most my ales at home, but I would expect a fairly negative impact on both of those habits if there was no market support for boutique brick & mortar retailers of those products.
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Brandon Rollins
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Would board gaming survive without FLGSes?
Yes, and it'd probably even thrive as it has the last several years.

Would it be good for the industry to lose all FLGSes?

I don't think so. Physically seeing and touching games is a surefire way to care about them more. Being in the room with people around a tabletop to play a game in a public place is powerful.

How do we save the FLGS?
I honestly don't know. You can give a flip answer about becoming a hybrid game store / coffee shop, but the reality is that physical goods are expensive to house and store in the old brick-and-mortar sales model. You've got to get creative if you want to survive as an FLGS, and I think that just comes down to talking to a lot of people and making an awesome environment for them plus a heavy dose of business acumen.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Thanos007 wrote:
I ask the question in the header with all honesty. Do these things really bring anything to the hobby?
That's the wrong question. I think it's obvious that they have brought something to the hobby. They wouldn't exist if they hadn't. The problem is when we start believing that we have to have them and try to force people to support them. So the question is "Who should pay for what they bring to the hobby?" And when the answer to that question isn't "Their customers", that's when I have a problem.

Because not everyone benefits from FLGS's. Some people just don't have one anywhere near them. And even if you have one, it's often one you don't want to use because they just fail to meet the basic requirement any store should meet. They're dirty, or smell, or the staff isn't helpful/ignores you.

Even if they are a good store with a helpful staff, that doesn't mean that they offer every customer a benefit. I can learn more about a game in the comfort of my own home than I can at your typical game store. The exception being if a store let's me demo a copy of a new game I'd like to try out... but honestly, I've never actually been to a store that has copies of new games available to play. Some of them have had a library of games you could play, but never the new game that's in the store window. So I'm better off buying online, as nothing a game store offers in the "purchase a game" category is a benefit to me, and they charge a higher price.

Some game stores offer a play space, a library of games and/or tournaments/organized play, etc. So that's certainly a benefit to some people, but again, if you don't have a local store, it's not. And it's not a great benefit for me since I'm not interested in Magic or CCG's (which comprises most of the tournaments and organized play). And the library of games that the stores around me have on offer is usually stuff I either already own or am not interested in. If I play at a FLGS, it's usually a game I or one of the other players own. Having a play space is nice, but it comes with it's own share of problems as you can't limit who attends and you may end up with loud, rude or obnoxious people. Most people I know will use the space if it's free, but won't use it as soon as you start charging for it. Of course, most of the play spaces I've been too aren't that great (small, dimly lit, loud, bad chairs, etc.) But the larger point is that if this stuff is the value that FLGS's add to the hobby, then that's what they should be charging for.

So if you believe that what FLGS's offer is a benefit, that's great... Go buy your games there! Or pay to use their play space and game library. Or pay an entry fee to play in their tournament. But I don't value those features, and I'd rather buy online and get the benefit of a lower price. Which should be fine. If that's where the story stopped there'd be no problem.

It's when you insist that I have to support FLGS's and you start making me pay for the benefits that I don't get that I have a problem. If the benefits that you value are worth it, then the FLGS should be able to charge for them and make enough profit to keep offering them. If they're not valuable enough to do that, then why do I need to make up the difference? Especially as I'm not getting any of those benefits.

And yes, if FLGS's went out of business games would still be made and sold. Gamers would still play games. New gamers would still find the hobby. Maybe it would be a slower process, but why is that a bad thing? Why do I need to be the person funding new gamers finding the hobby? I'd rather introduce new gamers other ways to be honest. There's game groups and meetups and all sorts of ways you can promote the hobby directly. I'm not convinced that raising the prices of games to keep FLGS's in business is the best way to promote the hobby. It's certainly not one I want to pay for.
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Martin V
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Thunkd wrote:
Thanos007 wrote:
I ask the question in the header with all honesty. Do these things really bring anything to the hobby?
That's the wrong question. I think it's obvious that they have brought something to the hobby. They wouldn't exist if they hadn't. The problem is when we start believing that we have to have them and try to force people to support them. So the question is "Who should pay for what they bring to the hobby?" And when the answer to that question isn't "Their customers", that's when I have a problem.

Because not everyone benefits from FLGS's. Some people just don't have one anywhere near them. And even if you have one, it's often one you don't want to use because they just fail to meet the basic requirement any store should meet. They're dirty, or smell, or the staff isn't helpful/ignores you.

Even if they are a good store with a helpful staff, that doesn't mean that they offer every customer a benefit. I can learn more about a game in the comfort of my own home than I can at your typical game store. The exception being if a store let's me demo a copy of a new game I'd like to try out... but honestly, I've never actually been to a store that has copies of new games available to play. Some of them have had a library of games you could play, but never the new game that's in the store window. So I'm better off buying online, as nothing a game store offers in the "purchase a game" category is a benefit to me, and they charge a higher price.

Some game stores offer a play space, a library of games and/or tournaments/organized play, etc. So that's certainly a benefit to some people, but again, if you don't have a local store, it's not. And it's not a great benefit for me since I'm not interested in Magic or CCG's (which comprises most of the tournaments and organized play). And the library of games that the stores around me have on offer is usually stuff I either already own or am not interested in. If I play at a FLGS, it's usually a game I or one of the other players own. Having a play space is nice, but it comes with it's own share of problems as you can't limit who attends and you may end up with loud, rude or obnoxious people. Most people I know will use the space if it's free, but won't use it as soon as you start charging for it. Of course, most of the play spaces I've been too aren't that great (small, dimly lit, loud, bad chairs, etc.) But the larger point is that if this stuff is the value that FLGS's add to the hobby, then that's what they should be charging for.

So if you believe that what FLGS's offer is a benefit, that's great... Go buy your games there! Or pay to use their play space and game library. Or pay an entry fee to play in their tournament. But I don't value those features, and I'd rather buy online and get the benefit of a lower price. Which should be fine. If that's where the story stopped there'd be no problem.

It's when you insist that I have to support FLGS's and you start making me pay for the benefits that I don't get that I have a problem. If the benefits that you value are worth it, then the FLGS should be able to charge for them and make enough profit to keep offering them. If they're not valuable enough to do that, then why do I need to make up the difference? Especially as I'm not getting any of those benefits.

And yes, if FLGS's went out of business games would still be made and sold. Gamers would still play games. New gamers would still find the hobby. Maybe it would be a slower process, but why is that a bad thing? Why do I need to be the person funding new gamers finding the hobby? I'd rather introduce new gamers other ways to be honest. There's game groups and meetups and all sorts of ways you can promote the hobby directly. I'm not convinced that raising the prices of games to keep FLGS's in business is the best way to promote the hobby. It's certainly not one I want to pay for.


Thunkd, WELL SAID, all of it.

Thanks, I could not have put it better!
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Mark T
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The FLGS nearest me is probably an sample of where the business may be headed. Upon walking in to this "game store" one is immediately greeted by an area roughly the size of a large closet that has shelving on which to display games and components that are for sale. Perhaps 20% of that space is devoted to popular board games (Dominion and expansions for example) while the remainder is devoted to X-Wing miniatures, Android Netrunner, Magic and RPG supplies.

The space I just described accounts for no more than about 10% of the overall area of the store. The remaining 90% of floor space is devoted to gaming space - tables and chairs as well as dedicated bar height tables for miniature wargamers.

How does this work from a business perspective? I strongly suspect that most of the income of the store is actually based on the rotation of various tournaments and other gatherings hosted by the store. Every month they publish an event calendar. They have something going on EVERY night of the week. Most nights there is some sort of Magic tournament that has an entry fee. I think that's where most of their income is. There are also a handful of free events but those are often targeted toward those games, like X-wing and Android that are endlessly expandable and will get new people to start buying things at the store.

Thankfully, the store owner is also positively disposed toward a modest board gaming group that is allowed to use the store as a gathering place a couple times a week. It's a small enough group that they don't take up space that would otherwise be needed for paying tournament customers.

Anyway, I'm glad that there's a store that hosts gaming groups. I'm not a regular, but I go just enough to get to know some folks and play a few new games from time to time. In another stage of life, I might be there more often, but for now the family takes most of my time. I'll be happy if this place or one like it is still around when I have more time for gaming.
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Noneya Bidness
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So some for and some against. Now.... can any of you prove your position? Sales figures other statistics? A lot of the above is anecdotal or opinion. Any facts?
 
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Nick Pincumbe
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Snardo wrote:
The FLGS nearest me is probably an sample of where the business may be headed. Upon walking in to this "game store" one is immediately greeted by an area roughly the size of a large closet that has shelving on which to display games and components that are for sale. Perhaps 20% of that space is devoted to popular board games (Dominion and expansions for example) while the remainder is devoted to X-Wing miniatures, Android Netrunner, Magic and RPG supplies.

The space I just described accounts for no more than about 10% of the overall area of the store. The remaining 90% of floor space is devoted to gaming space - tables and chairs as well as dedicated bar height tables for miniature wargamers.

How does this work from a business perspective? I strongly suspect that most of the income of the store is actually based on the rotation of various tournaments and other gatherings hosted by the store. Every month they publish an event calendar. They have something going on EVERY night of the week. Most nights there is some sort of Magic tournament that has an entry fee. I think that's where most of their income is. There are also a handful of free events but those are often targeted toward those games, like X-wing and Android that are endlessly expandable and will get new people to start buying things at the store.

Thankfully, the store owner is also positively disposed toward a modest board gaming group that is allowed to use the store as a gathering place a couple times a week. It's a small enough group that they don't take up space that would otherwise be needed for paying tournament customers.

Anyway, I'm glad that there's a store that hosts gaming groups. I'm not a regular, but I go just enough to get to know some folks and play a few new games from time to time. In another stage of life, I might be there more often, but for now the family takes most of my time. I'll be happy if this place or one like it is still around when I have more time for gaming.


Actually, I think this really gets to the core of my apathy towards FLGS. (Though I should really just call them LGS, as I haven't seen too much "friendly," but more "meh"). I don't believe I've ever been to a dedicated table top hobby board game store. I've been to stores that have a lot of shelf space dedicated to these types of games, but most of their traffic seems to be Magic players, Pokemon players, or hardcore wargamers (Warhammer 40k, etc.). Since none of those are particularly interests of mine, the space doesn't really feel dedicated to my hobby or particularly interested in my hobby. So I don't tend to be particularly interested in them.

That said, it's my understanding that for financial reasons most brick and mortar game stores HAVE to devote most of their bandwidth to collectible card games and war games, etc. So I really question not just how much this hobby would actually lose if we lost these game stores, but how much these game stores really exist for this hobby at all in the first place.

I'm sure there are plenty of gems out there though that are exceptions to my experience. If I ever run into one, I might be more apt to support it as a customer. For now, I'm plenty to content to game at friends' houses and buy online for great service and great prices. So my answer to the question in the OP would be: "I don't need them."
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