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Subject: When you can't find what you want at your FLGS rss

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B C Z
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So... I did my research on a game, and got fired up to go purchase it.

I drove out of my way 30 minutes to go to my local game store (my fault for not calling them first).

I looked over the wall of pretty board game covers and decided that since I knew what I wanted, I would just go ask for it.

"Hello, do you have Race for the Galaxy?"

"Never heard of it. Let me check the computer."
tap tap tap
"We don't have it in stock, we can special order it for you."

"When was the last time you had it in stock?"

tap tap tap
"Never - we've never had it."

It's been out for a few months.

-=-

If they had had the game in stock, they would have had the sale.

As it is, I walked out annoyed, and decided that I'd do better with an online retailer who shipped straight to my door instead of trusting the spotty record of my FLGS on ordering games and then not getting them -- ever. It would arrive quicker, for the same or less cost and would require only one interaction with the seller (the order) instead of many (the order, the missed phone calls, the second drive to the store for the pickup).

If this was an item I could get at a normal retail store, I would have just walked out and moved onto the next strip mall or chain. But it's a game. My two options are deal with the FLGS (and they are very good about providing space to the community, I give them that) or to order it from online and get it delivered to my door.

So here's the point:
If I'm trying to support my local FLGS, but the model doesn't meet the need, am I still morally obligated to continue to try to support it?

 
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Mark Jackson
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Dude... you were looking for Race for the Galaxy which, according to Game Surplus, just got to them on 11/17. OF COURSE they never had it in stock.

BTW, you're not morally obligated to buy from one retailer over another (unless we're talking about criminal behavior). It may be wise to support your FLGS or expedient & cheaper to support an online store, but it's not a moral obligation.
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Gene Ksenzakovic
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Well,
I no longer go to my FLGS because they charge 10 percent over MSRP(sometimes more). That bothers me on so many levels. I know they are trying to survive, and the vast majority of their business comes from collectable games. But in addition to the higher prices they have limited stock and if a game has to be ordered and I have to wait anyway I would rather order it from an online retailer. Now as far as having Race for the Galaxy in stock, I can't imagine any FLGS that would have every boardgame published in stock.
 
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Mitch T
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I kind of feel like the real lesson here is to call first.
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Bobb Beauchamp
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I don't think anyone's morally obligated to buy from a FLGS just because one exists. If you like your LGS, and want it to succeed, then shop there. If you've tried to shop there, but feel like your needs as a customer are not being met, shop elsewhere.

Given the limited facts here, I'd say it's a mea culpa on the shopper. That's a fairly new game, and if you've been in this hobby any length of time, you should know that release dates and specific shelf dates for a store don't always match up. When there's a specific game you want, you're best advised to always call first. You never know when a store's going to no stock a game for some reason, or sell out of the few copies they do stock, before you get there.

So, if this is the first/only time you've run into an issue with the LGS, but otherwise have been happy with them, cut them some slack and have them order the game. It shouldn't take more than a week or two to arrive. Sure, that's longer than if you ordered it on-line, but not by much, and you're supporting a store you like.

On the other hand, if this is just the last straw, dump them. If you're reasonable, and they aren't putting in the effort to meet your needs, you don't need to encourage them to continue to act badly.
 
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Ryan Powers
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It depends on the game and the store.

I almost always tried the FLGS first (when I had one, don't have one since moving).

If it's a game I'm likely to be playing @ the store, finding opponents @ the store, etc. then I almost always have them order it.

For example. The last store had big wargaming, miniatures, roleplaying, and ccg participation, but little to no euro gaming (though they did sell some). So if I was looking for a Euro and they didn't have it, I'd likely order it online, as the extra services provided by the store (place to play, finding opponents, etc.) weren't particularly relevant.

On the other hand if it was something I figured I had a good chance of getting to the table in the store/using the store to find opponents, I'd generally have them order it as I'd be using the extra services provided by the store with the game.
 
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Jeff Michaud
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byronczimmer wrote:
If I'm trying to support my local FLGS, but the model doesn't meet the need, am I still morally obligated to continue to try to support it?

As Mark said, you are not morally obligated to support any retailer (unless maybe your friend or a family member owns it, which is what I do when I need a new bicycle or related equipment, of course the family discount helps).

I know I've heard there are some game stores out there that actually promote board games, hosting open board gaming, and maybe even providing expertise (such as knowing the hotest new releases), and if you are using those services, it's a good idea to throw some business their way.

However at least the 4-6 game stores I've had around me, while selling board games, focused on mini's, RPG's, CCG's, etc... and you can't blame them... that's where the money is that they need to stay in business (and even then it doesn't seem to be enough as 1/2 of them went under).
 
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Chad Ellis
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Peso Pete wrote:
As a former retailer, I can tell you that by far the most frustrating part of the job was dealing with distributors and getting wanted games into the game store.


Distributors strive to avoid holding stock, but it does seem like many do so to inappropriately low levels. I hear about once a month from a retailer or player who says their FLGS couldn't get a particular Battleground deck because the retailers were out of stock. Now this is a game that has shown steady and growing sales for over two years and we ship to distributors weekly. This means that for a distributor to sell out they have to fail to hold 2-3 weeks worth of inventory on a product with a long sales history and, in this particular case, very low warehouse demand (decks of cards have a high value:space ratio). It's a classic example of a product that should never stock out, and yet...

With new releases it's trickier but it still seems that distributors should be able to address that with committed pre-orders.

Edit to add a few random thoughts:

1. ACD, the #2 US game distributor, has just been purchased by a guy I happen to know is extremely smart. Maybe he'll take on Alliance's dominance by finding a way to address the in-stock issue.

2. Internet sellers have added value not merely by offering games at lower costs but, in many cases, by holding stock unmatchable by any FLGS. Maybe the next logical step in industry evolution will be a merging of these two (already-similar in many respects) businesses?
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Kevin Reynolds
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I have a friendly local store, but, to be honest, they dont stock the games I would buy. Even then, after spending lots of money there (thousands over a few years), the pricing never got better. Everything was always a special order, always took weeks to get in (or never came in), and I sympathize, but I don't have time to deal with that.

I don't bother going out of my way anymore. I don't feel guilty, because I don't play the games they do stock. If they had the games I played (like they did back when AH was still around), I would make sure to buy all of my games from them.
 
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Robert Cannon
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You should only feel morally obligated to buy from your FLGS if you use their "services" in any way. Do you browse their store to decide on a purchase? Do you use their space to meet other gamers and play games?

Personally, I "browse" BGG for my game buying decisions. The only stores around me don't even know the titles of the games I would be interested in. Why should I give them my money?

Now their used to be a good FLGS and I purchased from their regularly, but he went under anyway.
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Mark Gage
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I have an Unfriendly Local Game Store (ULGS) that has added a few Euro titles to their collection of comic books and collectable cards since the "real" game store went under a year ago (moment of silence, please).

The ULGS doesn't do anything to support the hobby or the local game community, so I don't feel badly about not supporting him. If he made an effort to provide some game space, or even answered my emails asking his permission to post a notice to local gamers in his store, I'd give him my business (as I did for our former FLGS). As it is, I am off the hook, and am happy to find 30-40% discounts, fast doorstep delivery, and great service and selection at the online retailers.

 
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Greg Jones
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Don't get mad at the store. Toys 'R Us doesn't stock your game either. You don't get mad at them, you just don't shop there. Be happy that the store does stock some good games (I assume), and you can buy those there if you want them. Go online to buy a game if they don't have it. I agree, the whole "I can order it for you," while very helpful in days past, is not very interesting when you can order most things yourself on the internet.

You may have helped out the FLGS just a little bit anyway. If they get a lot of people asking for Race for the Galaxy, maybe they'll stock it.
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John W
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byronczimmer wrote:
So here's the point:
If I'm trying to support my local FLGS, but the model doesn't meet the need, am I still morally obligated to continue to try to support it?
I reject this entire concept (of any moral obligation to support).
 
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Marshall P.
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If I were in your shoes I would have ordered from the FLGS, and dealt with the added hassle and extra expense.

But then, my FLGS gives me free space to play twice a week (even staying open late just for my group.) They put up advertising for my group in the store and on the web. And they send players my way if they inquire about the types of games I play. These are all valuable services to me that are provided at no charge.

Therefore, I willingly pay higher prices and accept extra inconvienence to buy all my games through my FLGS.

edited to add: if I didn't get any value added services from my FLGS I would likely not buy there.
 
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B C Z
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Maybe this is a frustration with the distribution model.

When a video game comes out, it's available from multiple retailers at the same time. Online Vendors, such as Amazon or Bestbuy.com have the game on the same day as the big stores (Kmart, Target) and the niche markets (GameStop, Electronics Boutique {yes, I know they're the same}) and so on.

When a magazine is released, you can get it from a bookstore, a newstand or delivered to your door (via a subscription).

When new toys are released to the big retailers, everyone gets it at the same time.

Yet, when a BOARD or CARD game gets released, the online retailers have it immediately (because they act like distributers), but the brick and mortar outlets are generally weeks or MONTHS behind the curve.

I think it is a reasonable expectation to go into a B&M three weeks after the release date of a game and be able to obtain it.

I further think it is unreasonable that the store attendant doesn't even know what I'm talking about when the game is rated at #56 by over 500 users of this community.
 
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William Boykin
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Something to be aware of....

Race for the Galaxy has NOT (repeat, NOT) been generally available to the main distributors (Alliance and their ilk) until VERY recently. My FLGS had to order directly from Rio Grande in order to get it, but they had to buy a BUNCH- which can be very problematic for specialty games like Euros. Yah "everyone" wants it- but how many actually BUY it? 3? 4? 6? It is VERY difficult to gauge 'interest' in a game, which means that FLGS's don't like to buy more than 1's and 2's of a given game. This means that a lot of them are tied to distributors- which, as I've noted, didn't get a lot of Race for the Galaxy. So its kind of a Catch 22.

So before you label your FLGS as run by idiots, here are some facts behind their decisions.

Darilian
Defender of FLGS's since 1982
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Quote:
Maybe this is a frustration with the distribution model.


It's purely an issue of limited resources versus a dizzying array of products. Distributors face the same decisions local stores do... how to determine where to spend their dollars. CCG's and CMG's are, for the most part, a solid decision because of the nature of the buying patterns. They generate repeat sales of the exact same SKU.

Board games and non-core RPG products are a much dicier propisition and the retailer can't return unsold units. This is bad news for the distributor as well because unsold units are a direct indicator of cash that is frozen and not free to purchase more goods.

Online merchants that specialize in board games have a much easier set of buying criteria, in part due to pre-orders as a barometer of their initial order for a specific title. The three or four that feed off of BGG have an even easier job of allocating funds. The downside (at least in the short term) is that despite the limited nature of having BGG be your main clientel, there is still an increasing amount of competition for BGG game dollars. A well-run and well stocked game store that addresses each nook and cranny of the "game" market will almost always make it's primary owner affluent. And theoretically that affluence increases the value of the store to it's locals.

I'm uncertain that is the case with the online merchants who haven't been weaned off the BGG teat yet. But I'd bet they are very tight money-wise and will be until they get a head of steam outside this group.

Even now, a full 35-40 minutes from the nearest game store, I call ahead first if I have a specific title I want. 90% of what I buy is local and the rest is money spent via online stores for gifts, P500 titles or the rare OOP item that is out of the distributor channel.
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Mike zebrowski
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byronczimmer wrote:
I further think it is unreasonable that the store attendant doesn't even know what I'm talking about when the game is rated at #56 by over 500 users of this community.


Wow, what an overblown sense of importance.

I'm sure that the attendant also should keep track of the top 100 d20 books, top 100 RPGs, top 100 miniature games, top 100 CCGs, top 100 Magic cards, top 100 CMGs figs, top 100 miniatures (by era and scale), etc...

LGS's have to listen to their customer base and not some web-site. If enough customers are talking about "game X", then the store will risk its capital to bring in "game X".

Mike Z
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byronczimmer wrote:
"We don't have it in stock, we can special order it for you."


Oh... and that is somehow different from the "Basic and Less Expensive Order" that I could perform at home in about 1/10th the time it will take you to do it?
 
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Mike zebrowski
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Skadar wrote:
byronczimmer wrote:
"We don't have it in stock, we can special order it for you."


Oh... and that is somehow different from the "Basic and Less Expensive Order" that I could perform at home in about 1/10th the time it will take you to do it?


Well, what do you expect the store to say? "Sorry, we don't have that obsure game that only 2 people in the whole area want, so try somewhere else"?

Mike Z
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William Boykin
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Mike Zebrowski wrote:
Skadar wrote:
byronczimmer wrote:
"We don't have it in stock, we can special order it for you."


Oh... and that is somehow different from the "Basic and Less Expensive Order" that I could perform at home in about 1/10th the time it will take you to do it?


Well, what do you expect the store to say? "Sorry, we don't have that obsure game that only 2 people in the whole area want, so try somewhere else"?

Mike Z


EXACTLY. So 500 people highly rate a game on BGG. That is nothing- a drop in the BUCKET. Even in a big(-ish) city like Austin, thats only 3-5 people, TOPS.

Even accounting for a multiplier factor of 2-3 'hidden' gamers behind every fanboy who raves about a game, that still doesn't make it much.

Face it- my FLGS sells more Settlers of Catan ALONE over any other board game. And they'd sell more Monopoly than THAT if they could get it at the ridiculously low price that Target and Wal-Mart can sell it at. Even then, they still sell a bunch of Monopoly over the holidays- and they are considered to have the best selection of 'gamer's games' in all of Central Texas! (Maybe all of Texas...)

Just cuz a game is 'highly rated' on BGG does not NECESSARILY equal high sales. Nor is it a terribly good predictor of what will become a good seller. Way to many Geeks on BGG are into very 'nichey' games- gamer's games, if you will- which do not do well in the more general gamer market.

Darilian
 
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Mike zebrowski
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Darilian wrote:
EXACTLY. So 500 people highly rate a game on BGG. That is nothing- a drop in the BUCKET. Even in a big(-ish) city like Austin, thats only 3-5 people, TOPS.


Actually, only 224 people in the US have rated Race for the Galaxy. When you take Austin's population as a percentage of the US population, that means that there is 1/2 a person in Austin who rated the game.

If we assume that all 298 people who have listed the game as "want" are in the US, then there is 2/3rds a person from the 'geek in Austin that wants the game.

Combine the numbers together and you get almost 2 people who have either rated or want the game in Austin. Yeah, that's a big market that LGS are just wanting to jump through hoops to attract.

Mike Z
 
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Quote:
If we assume that all 298 people who have listed the game as "want" are in the US, then there is 2/3rds a person from the 'geek in Austin that wants the game.


Most likely true.

Which kinda-sorta goes back to my theory that any who are actually interested in having a community with a "good" local game store can be proactive if they have a decent (but not board game heavy) store nearby.

Retailers tend to be very busy conteding with what is already selling and staying on top of the high volume products. Most would cheerfully accept outside help in the form of gamers coming down to "educate" the masses on what exists outside the realm of RPG and collectible games.

It's pointless to complain that one's local game store sucks because it doesn't have Agricola or Race for the Galaxy when that store may well be a fantastic site for fans of other types of games.

If you want it then maybe you should volunteer. If you don't need a good local store that has a great selection of obscure or low-print Euros then it's just plain nastiness to bitch about it. Order online and be done with it.
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B C Z
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Alright...

So I made a quick phone call to the other store in my area (and "my area" is pushing it, it's 30 minutes away if there's no traffic, but the path involves DC's beltway and can easily be 60-90 minutes).

"Hello, quick question, do you know what Race for the Galaxy is?"

"Yes - and we're currently out of it, we'll have more in on Monday."

"Okay, thank you -- and when did you last have it in stock?"

"Thanksgiving."

"Thank you."

-=-=-

So a local FLGS store has not only had this item in stock, but they are now sold out of it and have already posted for a reorder and will be getting that reorder in within a week.

This other store is generally very good about getting hot titles in and moving them. If they were closer I'd be a lot more interested in going there more often, but they're in another state and it's not a nice drive to get out there.

I at least learned the lesson to call first.

It would seem to me that any business (such as a B&M game store) would use any available means to put their thumb on the pulse of the industry that is available to them, to include keeping tabs on this and similar sites.

I still think it's a problem with the distribution model.
 
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Quote:
It would seem to me that any business (such as a B&M game store) would use any available means to put their thumb on the pulse of the industry that is available to them, to include keeping tabs on this and similar sites.


But Brian... is Race for the Galaxy the "pulse of the industry"?

I don't think so. If it is the industry is probably minutes away from death.

At best... and consider that I have always been a board game geek... I never got my store over about 25% of total sales in board games. And 90% of that was in just a few titles.... Settlers, Carccassone, the Axis & Allies and Risk big box games, Munchkin stuff and shooting stars that fade to normal like T2R, and Talisman.
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