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Subject: FLGS - Do they exist and if where are they? rss

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John Drama
Austria
Villach
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Okay, I know that the first part of my question above may lead to a little bit of WTF? for some of you. But I wanted to express, that I never had an experience with a shop that comes even close to what I repeatedly read about FLGS.

So what do I think a flgs is besides an acronym for friendly local game store?
From what I keep reading I conclude it is a store that sells boardgames (o rly?), has a pretty good range of games, can order games that are not in stock, some seem to offer the possibillity to even play games there, doing events and stuff.

I often read things like this:

- "I have not received my kickstatergame but I already found it in my flgs!"
- "Yesterday I bought insert random good game at my flgs."
- "My flgs offers expansion XY for game YX."
- "I got promo/exclusive/rare whatever at my flgs."
- "The guy at my flgs told me random interesting stuff about boardgames."

All this sounds like a big WTF? to me, when I compare this to the "boardgameshops" in my area.
So what do we have here?
There is a "Toys r us" that has some board games.
There is a "Müller", a drugstorechain, that has a wide variety of products, and a bunch of boardgames.
There are lots of supermarkets that have a few boardgames.

And thats pretty much it. Every store sells the same stuff, mostly classics like risk, monopoly or activity, then the new stuff or big hits from the really big german publishers like Kosmos or Ravensburger and all the stupid games that spin of stupid tv shows. If you are lucky you can find Dominion, Carcassonne or Ticket to ride. And thats it.

I won't ever find games there like Descent, Zombicide, Robinson Crusoe, Arkam Horror, Mage Knight, Blood Rage and so on. I think these games a pretty well known and common for boardgamers. All of them even have a german version.
I will never ever find expansions for any game besides maybe Dominion, Carcassone or Munchkin.
I will not find any KS games, promos or rare stuff at all.
No shopman here will ever have anything boardgame related to tell.
I am not able to order anything from a publisher they don't have in there shelves. Asmodee (does CMON games in german)? No way! Heidelberger (does ffg in german)? No way!
It's Kosmos and Ravensburger all the way.

The city I live in of course is not the biggest. But even when going to the next biggest 40km away the situation is the same. There are 2 stores that call themselves boardgamestores. But they offer pretty much the same stuff and service like the ones mentioned above.

So besides a bit of crying around here I would like to know how common these mysterious FLGS are. Is this kind of service only known in the US? Or is it a thing thats only profitable in citys with a mio+ residents?
What are your experiences?
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J J
Australia
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They require a certain level of population to be profitable. In Australia, they don't exist outside the capital cities and a handful of the biggest regional cities.

I live in a region of perhaps 55000 people, and in my lifetime we've had two dedicated games shops, both of which went out of business within 2 years. Other than that we had two dedicated card shops, one that started with MtG's initial boom in the mid 90s, the other about a decade ago. Cash cow shops, and they still went under. Plus there have been two toy shops who stocked a handful of non-mainstream stuff (starting with GW in the 90s).

Hell, even in Melbourne, with 20% of the country's entire population, I can count the number of games shops on one hand.

Now it is true that all of this should be leavened with the knowledge that Australia almost entirely lacks the board game culture found overseas, but still, you can't make money in this business without lots of people to sell to.

So perhaps it is just where you live. But you've still, from the sound of it, got much better shops than I do.
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Alain Baum
Luxembourg
Grevenmacher
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Hi, I notice you are from Austria. My experiences in my tiny country are pretty similar:
- In the nineties, there was a shop that pretty much lived only because of Magic. It had some other boardgames, but it closed down a few years after the magic hype died down a bit. Unless for some game nights, I rarely saw someone there.
- Another shop appeared later in the capital had a pretty good selection and some promos as well. If it didn't have something on the shelf, and you had to order... let me just say I waited for a month for the Arkham Horror base game, before I gave up. Sometimes it even smelled pretty bad in there, to the point that people were reluctant to enter. It is now closed, and a notice on the door says that it's prohibited to enter by order of the court...
- Supermarkets and Toys'r us only sell Hasbro, Mattel, and some Ravensburger (mostly jigsaws).
- Currently there are two shops I know of that sell modern boardgames. One of those also sells kitchen utensils among other things. His choice is decent, but he is unable to order from someone not of his usual chain of suppliers (no Codenames, even!). The other one is a toy store; like a Toys'r us with a slightly better boardgame selection.
- I can also drive across the border to Trier, where there is a Games Workshop store and one general modern boardgame store. Also, even the toy shops have a much better selection in Germany.

My point is that our hobby is still a niche hobby, and it is hard for a brick-and-mortar stoire to survive by modern boardgames alone. Boardgames take a lot of space for relatively little value. I can't blame stores for limiting themselves to "safe" games like TtR, Carc, and Settlers.

So, I've pretty much given up on FLGS. I've found a good online store in France for my Ameritrash games, and I do about 2/3 of my shopping there. The rest comes from Amazon, Trier, or the SPIEL at Essen.


ETA: Last year, I was visiting the US, and we were checking out the boardgames and comics stores. All of those we visited were not in the downtown of the big cities, but more around 20-30 km outside of it. So I don't think that even the US citizens have 10 boardgame stores within a 10 minute drive of their home.
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United States
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DukeOfEarl wrote:
ETA: Last year, I was visiting the US, and we were checking out the boardgames and comics stores. All of those we visited were not in the downtown of the big cities, but more around 20-30 km outside of it. So I don't think that even the US citizens have 10 boardgame stores within a 10 minute drive of their home.
Beg to differ here. There is an excellent game store right in the heart of Manhattan. The Compleat Strategist. They also have a store in Boston. Not having been to the Boston store I can't verify whether it is 'in the downtown' but the Manhattan store could not be more centrally located. It's right across the street from The Empire State Building!
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Greg Darcy
Australia
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It sounds like I am very lucky.
I live around 100Km from the nearest large city.
My main shopping town is about 10Km away. It houses a store that pretty much epitomises a FLGS.
It sells current as well as "classic" modern board games. It also sells classic ancient boardgames. From Scrabble to Go. From Arkham Horror to Mystic Vale. From Carcasonne to Ticket to Ride.
Pantheon, the just released expansion for 7 Wonders Duel is in store right now.
It runs weekly gaming days. It also hosts a bi-annual gaming convention, and runs occasional free "introduction to modern boardgames" events at the local library. There was one yesterday.
If they do not carry a game I want, they will try to get it in. Admittedly, they do not always succeed, but they do always try.
The proprietor can and does provide random and interesting stuff about games and gaming.

Yes I can usually buy cheaper from the internet. But if I do that I won't have a FLGS near me for much longer. I won't have anywhere to play games anymore. I won't have somewhere I can go to sit down with a open box and puzzle out if I really want to buy Tsuro. He'll even play the game with me if business is quiet.
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Ryan E.

Lawrence
Kansas
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My medium-sized town of about 80,000 in the middle of the United States has four, though one also has a large comic book and Geek culture selection as well. A local gamer's Facebook page shows events every night of the week. Obviously MtG, the Star Wars miniature series, and D&D are the most common but there are multiple open board gaming afternoons and evenings through the week. Yes, prices are a bit higher than online, but the store I frequent the most will match Miniature Market pricing if you ask. And they can order most anything if they don't have it in stock. I have no idea if this is typical or not.
 
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Steve B
Ireland
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Just come to Helsinki and visit Lautapelit, then you will know what a FLGS is all about.
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Bryan Thunkd
United States
Florence
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There's at least four within an half hour drive of me.
 
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C&H Schmidt
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So, first of all, this type of FLGS is NOT specific to the US at all.
In Germany, there is at least one in every decent-sized city (thinking ~100 000+ people, but they also exist in many smaller places); roughly the same seems to be true for the UK (had no trouble finding them there), and from what I have seen people write on BGG, other European countries have a decent number as well.
As a tourist, I've been in nice FLGS in Canada and Sweden that I more or less just stumbled upon.

The degree of "friendliness" varies, of course -- and not all may offer gaming events, and not all may have all the super rare games.

These are specialist stores, not comparable at all to the chains you mention. Quite often, they have mangas and other geek stuff in addition to board games (and they sell Magic: The Gathering almost always). They might not be very noticeable from the outside; often they are quite small. However, they are likely to have an online presence (quite a few FLGS are online stores as well), so if there are any in your area, you should find them via diligent googling or asking around in the respective forum section on BGG.
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mortego
United States
New Kensington
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Pittsburgh, PA lists six FLGS, I feel very lucky.

As for the OP, I am sorry there are not very many stores in your area.
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Bill Eldard
United States
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adm1 wrote:
DukeOfEarl wrote:
ETA: Last year, I was visiting the US, and we were checking out the boardgames and comics stores. All of those we visited were not in the downtown of the big cities, but more around 20-30 km outside of it. So I don't think that even the US citizens have 10 boardgame stores within a 10 minute drive of their home.
Beg to differ here. There is an excellent game store right in the heart of Manhattan. The Compleat Strategist. They also have a store in Boston. Not having been to the Boston store I can't verify whether it is 'in the downtown' but the Manhattan store could not be more centrally located. It's right across the street from The Empire State Building!


For many years, they have also had a store in Falls Church, VA -- a suburb of Washington DC. Like NYC and Boston, a large metropolitan area to draw from.

The DC metro area also has other FLGS throughout the area. Though Game Parlor closed shop a couple of years ago, we have several healthy boardgame stores in DC and the surrounding Virginia and Maryland suburbs.
 
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David Janik-Jones
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Waterloo
Ontario
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Two FLGS in the university city I live in (Waterloo, Ontario) including one of the best brick and mortar stores in Canada (shout out to J&Js!) In addition, there are three board game cafes, and two OLGSes.

30 minutes drive east another store, and an hour in either direction gets me to a total of at least seven or eight more excellent brick and mortar game stores, including the retail location of Canada's best OLGS, boardgamebliss.

Obviously, we're spoiled, here, I guess.

To the OP, Villach looks like a lovely city. The only place I've visited for a week though in Austria was Vienna (for business), and they have at least one excellent board game store. Too bad it's too far away.
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Chris Stimpson
United States
Westminster
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adm1 wrote:
DukeOfEarl wrote:
ETA: Last year, I was visiting the US, and we were checking out the boardgames and comics stores. All of those we visited were not in the downtown of the big cities, but more around 20-30 km outside of it. So I don't think that even the US citizens have 10 boardgame stores within a 10 minute drive of their home.
Beg to differ here. There is an excellent gam
e store right in the heart of Manhattan. The Compleat Strategist. They also have a store in Boston. Not having been to the Boston store I can't verify whether it is 'in the downtown' but the Manhattan store could not be more centrally located. It's right across the street from The Empires State Building!

The Boston Compleat Strategist is (or was, when I lived there 15 yrs ago) downtown, opposite the Christian Science Mother Church. I now live outside Denver; there's one 5 minutes away and one downtown, on Broadway and 4th. Neither are big wargame stores. All three of these stores allow folks to meet and play games there, which I think FLGSs have to do.
 
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Jeff C
United States
Beaverton
Oregon
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My advice to every board game fan is to move to Portland, Oregon. We have 3 shops in 20 minutes of each other that put the F in FLGS.
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Donald M.
United States
Sweet Grass
Montana
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Geek Scribe wrote:
My advice to every board game fan is to move to Portland, Oregon. We have 3 shops in 20 minutes of each other that put the F in FLGS.


I visited Portland last year. Only went to Guardian, Didn't have enough time to see any others. I like that I don't have to play sales tax.
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Everett
United States
Presque Isle
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Welcome to my world mate. Nearest FLGS is 114 miles and a $120 passport away. They are really only in high population areas, except in the Midwest/Mid Atlantic they seem to be like every 30 miles. Though oddly there are two stores in Bangor, which is like three hours away, so I stop by those stores every time I have to go to the hospital. Though just a warning to those who go to Bangor, Maine. Game Citadel isn't really friendly. They are just game store.
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Brandon Ciantar
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Loool guess what? There are no FLGS in my country. Considering opening one myself in the future.
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Chris Graves
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I live in Grants Pass Oregon which has a population of 35,000. However, we have THREE game stores in town which are all seeming to thrive. Then, there are two other game stores on the next towns over, Medford and Ashland. Five game stores within an 45 minutes.

Edit: Oh and Barnes and Noble sells games, so that's six.
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Rood Bird
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Oiler1 wrote:


I visited Portland last year. Only went to Guardian, Didn't have enough time to see any others. I like that I don't have to play sales tax.




I haven't been to Oregon for over a decade. It is a great place but I'm not sure I'd go there simply to not play a particular game. But, Hey YMMV.


RB
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Brian "Langalore"
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I live in the US east coast, one of the most densely populated areas in the country. It is not known as a big gaming area though. There are 4 stores within a 20 minute drive from me and if you expand it to 45 min drive (something we are very accustomed to in the US), it explodes to, I think, 10 stores. 4 or 5 of those are "magic factories" but the others are some of the best game stores I've been to (I travel for work and often stop by a store out of town).
The best stores have lots of tables, friendly staff, a demo library, can special order, and run regular board game nights.
 
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Dan Schlueter
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I live in what is usually considered flyover country in Omaha Nebraska. We somehow have a thriving tabletop market. It seems we get a new store about every 3 to five years without losing too many others. We have 3 that are dedicated boardgaming stores, at least 5 comic shops that have a varible selection of board games, 1 board game cafe, and even a Games Workshop store.
 
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Matt Brown
United States
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Michigan
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Geek Scribe wrote:
My advice to every board game fan is to move to Portland, Oregon. We have 3 shops in 20 minutes of each other that put the F in FLGS.


That's it? Portland's population is 600K. The population for my gaming area would not even be half that, and we have more.
 
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GregDarcy wrote:
It sounds like I am very lucky.
I live around 100Km from the nearest large city.
My main shopping town is about 10Km away. It houses a store that pretty much epitomises a FLGS.
It sells current as well as "classic" modern board games. It also sells classic ancient boardgames. From Scrabble to Go. From Arkham Horror to Mystic Vale. From Carcasonne to Ticket to Ride.
Pantheon, the just released expansion for 7 Wonders Duel is in store right now.
It runs weekly gaming days. It also hosts a bi-annual gaming convention, and runs occasional free "introduction to modern boardgames" events at the local library. There was one yesterday.
If they do not carry a game I want, they will try to get it in. Admittedly, they do not always succeed, but they do always try.
The proprietor can and does provide random and interesting stuff about games and gaming.

Yes I can usually buy cheaper from the internet. But if I do that I won't have a FLGS near me for much longer. I won't have anywhere to play games anymore. I won't have somewhere I can go to sit down with a open box and puzzle out if I really want to buy Tsuro. He'll even play the game with me if business is quiet.


I am soon to be lucky too as I am moving into that neck of the woods in a few weeks. Been looking at doing it for a little while and am a regular visitor to the area. I was amazed on one visit when my better half came back to where we were staying from the shops and informed me of the existence of this place, and even more amazed when I had a visit myself and saw what they had on the shelves. Last time I was up there I took the kids to the library to scope it out and saw the fliers etc for organised events. Clearly, as you say, the definition of FLGS - it might be tucked away off the high street and small by many people's standards but in a way it just adds to the charm and I will be looking forward to doing as much of my shopping through there as I can.

I do wonder about how easy it would be to replicate elsewhere. It seems fitting for the area somehow that it could exist and even flourish.


Just for the sake of reference,

The population of the town itself is about 8000. 70000 people live in the rest of the area, but that is spread out in a bunch of townships over an 80k stretch with a few offshoots. It's something of a tourist hub but I'm not sure how much trade they provide. The nearest other gamestore would be 50k away (and it's not brilliant).
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T. Dauphin
Canada
Belleville
Ontario
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Lathspell wrote:

The city I live in of course is not the biggest. But even when going to the next biggest 40km away the situation is the same. There are 2 stores that call themselves boardgamestores. But they offer pretty much the same stuff and service like the ones mentioned above.


What if you went in and ask them to find a game or two for you (I suppose you may need to help them find out where to get them)? Would they be encouraged to branch out and try something more adventurous--and become a better FLGS?

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Geoffrey Burrell
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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My small metropolitan are with a population around 160K there are four FLGS. I guess my area is a good market for FLGS.
 
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