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Subject: Higher price of the game vs. supporting your local game store - My recent night and day experience. rss

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Hello everyone,

I apologize in advance for a long post.

I am new to hobby of modern day board gaming and wanted to share my experience about a couple of local game stores.

Store 1: When I first discovered the hobby a few months ago, Pandemic was one of the first things that was recommended and I loved it. Then I discovered Pandemic Legacy and wanted to buy it. Amazon at the time had it for $47.99. I was searching for local game stores to pick it up in so that we can start playing immediately. I Found a couple of stores through google and contacted this store… and when I asked for their price, they quoted me $46.99. This was a no brainer, I got into my car and drove over to pick it up. This store has a very small collection of board games and they mainly focus on role playing/ miniature games and comics that I am not into. I asked if he had another game (I believe it was Five Tribes) in stock and they didn’t. They IMMEDIATELY offered to place an order of that game for me. They continued to say that they can make a special order for any game for me that they are able to get their hands on and also price it competitively.

Store 2: I wanted to buy Star Realms and only one store in the area had it in stock. I recently went to that store to pick it up. When i told the owner that I am here for Star Realms and will look around their board game selection, his first response was “Ok, please do, we need your money.” This store is a much larger store than Store 1 and surprised me with the board game collection they had (their focus on role playing and miniatures is quadrupled in this store). They had games ranging from gateway games like Ticket to Ride to heavy games like Lorenzo Il Magnifico. What also surprised me was the price of the game, they were ALL priced at full price (see examples below). In the total 15 minutes I spent in the store, he continued to stay “we need your money” at least four to five times. I proceed to ask if he price matches and his response was a VERY STRONG no and proceed to say that he would run out of business if he does. I can relate to that because competing with Amazon etc., is very hard as a small business. Working in the finance industry and a professional qualification in the field, I have dealt with the struggles small business go through.

We are all consumers and I am sure most of us here want a good deal on board games we want to buy as the hobby can get expensive very fast. Based on my experience above, store 2 failed to retain me as a customer and store 1 has a very loyal customer. I am willing to wait a few days extra to get it from store 1 instead of ordering it on Amazon.

Some examples of prices

Game---------------- Store 1--------------- Store 2

Lorenzo Il Magnifico--- $44.99 ---------------- $59.99
Five Tribes------------ $39.99 ---------------- $54.99
Century Spice Road----- $29.99 ---------------- $39.99
Istanbul--------------- $29.99 ---------------- $44.99

All the games above (and more) was specially ordered for me from Store 1 and sold to me at those prices. They are willing to price competitively with stores including CSI and MM. All I do is mention a game I am interested in, he gets back to me a few hours later with his quote for the price and it is always a competitive quote, and then I decide if I want to order it through him to not.

We know profit margins in board games are fairly good compared to the cost the games stores get it for, I doubt that Store 2 would go out of business JUST by lowering board game prices a little, it takes more than that to bring down a business. I also mentioned that i don’t mind paying a few dollars more than his competitor, the other local game store, but he was very firm on his policy.

What are your thoughts? Which local game store would you support? Are you willing to pay a higher price to keep a store in business? Have you every been called a corporate sellout with regards to buying board games?

Tl;dr - One local game stores prices board games competitively with Amazon, CSI, and MM and the other sells all games for full price (reminds me of Barnes and Noble) and refuses to discount anything. Thoughts? Who would you support?

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Paul DeStefano
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Re: Price of the game vs. supporting your local game store - My recent night and day experience.
orion17 wrote:
Tl;dr - One local game stores prices board games competitvively with Amazon, CSI, and MM and the other sells all games for full price (reminds me of Barnes and Noble) and refuses to discount anything. Thoughts?


If the store that doesn't lower prices sells enough to pay the rent and has to spend less time dealing with customers who ask him to lower his price, then he's doing OK.
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mortego
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I literally suck at this; I will buy a game for whatever price because I impulse buy, a LOT!

If I want it right now & I'm at pricey Barnes & Noble store I'll buy at MSRP, if I happen to be at my FLGS where prices are somewhat discounted and I want it right now, I'll buy it. If I'm at home & too lazy to drive somewhere to buy a game but I really want it then I'll buy it on Amazon (most of the time, I do do a little price shopping when I'm on the interwebs.)

I'm the reason why games stay at high prices.
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Simon Appleyard
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It's an interesting debate. I personally buy a LOT from Amazon - it suits my lifestyle, its quick, convenient and pricing is normally good. Interestingly though I buy very few boardgames from Amazon. That is not through any magnanimity on my part to support bricks and mortar game stores but because I don't find the pricing for games on Amazon (in the UK at least) to be that great. Mail order games stores generally get my business and most - though not all - of these tend to have a physical games store as well as the mail order component. Ultimately though I have a finite amount of money and lots of things to do with it, so I will try and source my games competitively. Having said that I have 3 or 4 companies I use regularly and I would (and do) stick with them if the price difference is not large. They have proved reliable in the past and that reliability has at least some value to me. When I do get the chance to visit physical stores (I was in one in London a couple of weeks ago) I often find that the disparity in pricing is such that I'm simply not willing to pay the difference but I know many others feel differently.
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orion17 wrote:
What are your thoughts? Which local game store would you support? Are you willing to pay a higher price to keep a store in business? Have you every been called a corporate sellout with regards to buying board games?

I would buy from the store where my dollar goes further. You have no obligation to keep stores in business.
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Caleb Bunch
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The FLGS in my area recently closed down about two months ago. I always wanted to support them, but I found that their prices were basically always 10%-20% OVER MSRP. I picked up a couple of games when they would go on sale, but that basically meant that I was buying them for full price. Here are a few prices that I can remember well because I often pulled the game off the shelf to admire it before seeing the price tag and putting it back.

A Feast for Odin - $125
Caverna - $115
Amerigo - $115
Great Western Trail - $80
Five Tribes $80
Yamatai - $80
Codenames - $30
Splendor - $40

It was clear that this FLGS, like many others, was only focused on reaching out to the CCG community. They had a pretty large selection of board games, but I think they probably priced themselves out of business. I live on an island with more than 8 million other people in one of the most densely populated regions in North America. There are only 5 board game stores still in operation (that I know about). I am certain that this FLGS would've found a good customer base if it had only made their prices reasonable.

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JPotter - Bits77
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It's an ancient debate OP.

It isn't my job to keep any business in business, that's the owner's job, but I will happily pay a premium to support a business I like and appreciate (I am planning on giving my mechanic a 50% tip on an auto repair tomorrow ... hell, maybe more!).

It doesn't sound like the higher-priced store has yet given you any reason to pay its prices.

Look, local stores have games, chain stores have games, online stores have games, auction sites have games, local and online traders have games, everyone and their dog has games, and the SAME games. So it's not about the games. Local stores can only "out-offer" the rest of the world (that is, the offers accessed via the interwebs) when they just happen to have something on hand that's rare, very, very rare.

Your local store must compete with what it can offer that no one else can: expertise, a gathering/playing area, demos, lessons, opportunities to get games played and try them before buying.

And atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. Which can be created by having a mixed business ... offering books or other media in addition to games, offering concessions, or a full bar, or a fullblown restaurant, etc, etc. To win your appreciation, they have to be for you what the online world cannot be, a physical destination, a personal connection to a local scene, a place to network. They ought to be trying to be just as indispensable to you as those low, low online prices are!
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Jan AllThatJazz
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So here's my two cents:

- Buying always on the highest price is very expensive if you're a "hardcore" gamer. Buying only one game every half year. No problem. But if you give new games a try and buy much more it's quite a big amount more money.

- Second thing. For me it's not only Amazon versus small retailer. There are many mail order companies which are specialized in boardgames. So you can directly order there. They are not big worldwide shops.

- And third thing. Finding the time to read about games. Finding the people to play games. Finding the time to play - besides caring about my family. All these things take time. It's my hobby I like it.
But it's not my hobby driving in heavy traffic to town, driving round town looking for a parking lot, then walking through the pedestrian area, taking care of the speed traps. Compared to: getting the game to my door for a cheaper price.
And it's quite ironic: driving into the city is much more difficult since a few months for me because Amazon has built a distribution center and they have slowed the traffic down, took away lanes, ...

So it's sad: On the one hand I like stores, having a meeting point, having a storekeeper which knows you and gets good games for you. On the other side there are the mentioned reasons, so that I prefer mailordering.

Just my two cents as metioned.
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Curt Carpenter
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I have no interest in paying more than I need to pay online online in order to support a FLGS. I can't remember the last time I bought a game in a store. Many years.
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Jonathan Challis
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orion17 wrote:

[b]What are your thoughts? Which local game store would you support? Are you willing to pay a higher price to keep a store in business?


I'd never pay more to a local store, or even the same. I'd pay more to order online actually, probably 20% or so, although the reality of course is that it's much less.

I certainly wouldn't pay to 'help a local store stay in business'. I believe in supply and demand, and local businesses (of most sorts) are an artefact of the past.
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Chris Mcpherson
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Boardgameprices.com is my answer
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Bwian, just
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orion17 wrote:

What are your thoughts? Which local game store would you support? Are you willing to pay a higher price to keep a store in business? Have you every been called a corporate sellout with regards to buying board games?

Where are you playing? Buy there.

I generally pay MSRP at my local game store, because it has a good community and is a friendly place to hang out. I’m willing to pay the extra for that, especially since (for reasons that are a mystery to me) I play more games when there is a game store in town. Yes, even though I might go months without actually playing at the store itself. My favorite analogy is to a bar: bars charge a markup on drinks that would make any game seller blush, but if they foster a good community, they might be worth supporting.

In terms of pure economics, I’m not sure what either store is offering you. They both seem fine, but Store 1 is only competitive with online if you value your time and gas as free. And since you sound like you’re only going to pick up product, not for the community, there’s no need to account for that.
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One thing to understand is that in the current retail environment, nobody can compete on price with Amazon and live. The reason is not anti-competitive behavior on Amazon's part — the reason is that in the current environment of inflated valuations, investment money pours into Amazon regardless of whether or not they make money selling stuff. Their stock trades on the volume of their business, and the financing is so easy that they don't even have to worry about making money. Needless to say, this situation won't continue indefinitely, but it's the current reality of retail.

As for myself, when I want something, I want it that very day. I can't imagine I'm all that unusual — I'm sure I've seen endless articles about "instant gratification culture." I've made a mixture of brick-and-mortar and online purchases, but I'm willing to pay more in order not to wait a week to get what I want.

I'm also a CCG player, and the local store is a primary venue for CCG playing and a necessary venue for a competitive circuit. It's one thing for a boardgamer to buy games online, but any CCG player who does so needs to think twice.
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Jonathan Lam
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I have the best of both worlds since Cool Stuff’s warehouse / main store is 15 minutes from my house. I’ve been in the hobby for over a year now and can say the majority of my purchases have been from Amazon (and a few from Target). Ultimately my purchase decision is based on price. But sometimes CSI is cheaper and/or is on sale, so I buy from them and can pick it up at my convenience. Their rewards program is an incentive but not having spent a lot, I am still at the 1% discount tier.
 
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For me there is no "local store."
So I have to find the best deal I can through online dealers or used copies from here or eBay.
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It's always been both/and and not either/or when it comes to buying online or the local b&m with me. I suspect I'm not the only one.
 
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First, I'll be honest and state that a good deal of my collection was bought used (or at a convention).

With that said, I tend to support my FLGS for most purchases, and that's because I tend toward expansions more than wholly new games. An expansion at MSRP is not a huge amount more than what I'd pay on Amazon or other, and I feel better about supporting the store that is also a place to meet and play games, playtest my games, etc.

Now, w/ that said, if a game is seriously cheaper online (say $15+), I would tend to get it online in some cases (or wait for it to go on sale at my FLGS). But I'm also not a heavy buyer. I've not bought a game since Gen Con because I have several that are still waiting to see the table - no reason to purchase more if I haven't played what I have.

But that's a completely different problem!
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Mark Watson
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I'm happy to pay an extra ten quid or thereabouts to have the game now rather than wait a day or two for delivery.

That said we don't really see the same difference between retail and online prices in the UK. Distribution can be an issue too - my local store has a fair few games, but unless you count miniature games like Warhammer and the like very few wargames. So if it's anything outside of what I guess we could call 'mainstream hobby gaming' I generally have to go online.
 
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Joe Hauser
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Simple answer for me.

Any store owner (or employee) that actually says to me "we need your money" will never get any of mine (even if they price matched). They obviously have no clue about customer service and if they are that desperate they are obviously doing something wrong and do not deserve to be in business.
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Bwian wrote:
... Store 1 is only competitive with online if you value your time and gas as free.


If OP isn't able to always get free shipping from online, then Store 1 might be saving him shipping costs.

If OP is padding his orders to meet free shipping mins, then Store 1 might be saving him the hassle and cost of questionable buys, time wasted playing games bought just because, and shelf space, in addition to saving him shipping costs.

... and then there's sales tax. Many online outlets still avoid sales tax most places ... for now.
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Basic Practicals for LGS 101:
a) Don't compete against Amazon.
b) Don't compete against Miniature Market.
c) Don't compete against CoolStuffInc.
d) Don't compete against Cardhaus.

In other words, offer products and services that change your business model from competitive (in which you will fail) to monopolistic competition (in which you differentiate yourself from the competition by providing services and product your competition cannot provide).

Game stores have these advantages over online stores:
a) Impulse purchases. Sell products that have more value by being immediately available than their online discount. Typically, this means keeping under $5 items readily available. Common examples are soda, candy, Magic card packs, Star Wars Destiny packs, Magic card packs, a bottle of hobby paint, and more Magic card packs. (Most boardgames don't fall under this category. Of course.)
b) Pay-to-play tournaments and other services. Y'know, Magic the Gathering.

You *are* on BoardGameGeek, which means you may not play Magic the Huge Sucking Noise from Your Wallet. Boardgamers are, pretty much, not as important source of revenue for game stores compared to, say, Magic the Gathering.

I would say that the first store is extraordinary in trying to keep your business. Even my FLGS doesn't offer that service. Meanwhile, store two is, well, borderline pathetic.

Or hasn't heard of Magic the Gathering. whistle
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FLGS's aren't charity shops ... unless they were charity shops! Start a non-profit board game addiction center where you can treat addicts and hoarders and ween them off of kickstarter and hot deals using social service money, with a large portion of the proceeds going towards a steady supply of games to help your patients detox with.

New games, new games ... doh, doh, doh...

angry Jerry! Get off that computer! Log off CSI at once!

But nah cheap games, I need them! Sure they are 7's at best, but at these prices!!!

angry No Jerry! This is for your own good! Fetch the restraints lads!!

coolsurprise Hold still buddy, it'll be ok!

zombie But games!! What am I supposed to do, pay MSRP!!!!
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The Ry
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I have no problem paying more locally to support a local store instead of paying less overseas. As long as the difference is within $10-$20

But, being in New Zealand, even if it is cheaper overseas, once you factor in shipping + getting hit with GST it ends up being fairly similiar
 
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Al Miller
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I would support the first store. They were not begging or trying to guilt you like the guy in store 2.

There are no flgs within an hour of me but I do get around there once a month or so. I tend to buy incidentals there like card sleeves, dice, small box games and when I was playing xwing I bought a lot of single ships at the store where we played. But for big boxes where you can save 20 to 40 percent on an 80 to 100 dollar game, Amazon or csi is hard to beat.
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Rob Perry
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I love/hate going to my flgs. At least until today. Now, I kinda lost the love and don't feel much like going there anymore.

This store is probably the busiest in my city of NYC. What I love about it there is they've almost always got the games I'm interested in, in stock. I love picking up new boxes that up until that moment I've only seen online.

Then I flip the box over and see the msrp sticker and know I can get it online significantly cheaper. Meaning they charge $100 for A Feast for Odin, where the general online price is $80. Frustrating. I wish I could buy it from them, but I can't. Not at that price.

But today, my flgs got a large shipment of new games and was unpacking them up by the register. I was standing on line waiting to pay for a pack of sleeves and the guy doing the unpacking, who was standing right next to me in the aisle, walks away. He leaves the wholesale invoice sitting right on top of the box that's literally touching my arm. I can't not see it.

110% markup.

I know rent in NYC ain't cheap (I rent an office here), but this pissed me off.

I have bought literally one game from them in the last year, only because I couldn't get this one online anywhere and really, really wanted it.

If their games were priced maybe $5-10 more than CSI or MM (earning them only a 50-60% markup), I'd have probably bought a good dozen games from them in the past year, instead of just wandering their aisles and then going home to place an order elsewhere.

Perhaps it's impossible for them to lower their prices and stay in business - or maybe they sell enough games at msrp+, that they could care less about losing some sales to online competition.

But whatever. It just feels greedy to me and I don't feel the same love for them I did yesterday.

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