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Subject: On the horns of a dilema rss

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Phil Shepherd
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Okay, I've long been a "support your local brick and mortar stores if you don't want them to go away" guy, but recently I was doing a little online browsing. I was shocked!

After seeing a large disparity in the price of War of the Ring, I started checking out some of my other "big purchase" titles, followed by all of the titles on my immediate wish list.

Here are the results for eight games ranging from small box games like Sleuth and Clocktowers to large ones such as War of the Ring and Pirate's Cove:

Local Brick & Mortar: $260
Internet Site A: $185
Internet Site B: $163

Needless to say I MUCH more purchasing power online.

My girlfriend has been laughing at me for a while now because I refuse to seek out the best deal for my gaming purchases, and obstinately spend my money at the local game store. My argument to her has been that if everybody goes online to find the best deals, the local shops will go under, and I will lose the thrill of perusing new and old titles alike, holding them and judging (relatively) the quality of them, asking flesh and blood humans about them, etc.

My particular local shop sells comic books, books, a large selection of mass market AND designer games, minis, paints and other paraphernalia (for minis), gaming accessories, magazines, etc. They also have many large gaming tables, organized game nights and the like. They will order any title for me, at my request, and should I decide, once it arrives, that I no longer want it, they don't make a big deal about it - they put it on the shelf. They'll open a box and allow me to check out the components before I buy if I want to, and they even accept old games which they'll re-sell. The sell refreshments, but also allow you to bring in "outside food and drink." The staff is friendly, accessible and pretty knowledgeable. In short, it’s the very model of what a brick and mortar game store should be.

So why consider turning to the dark side, you ask? Well, the fact is, I don't use any of the amenities offered by my local shop. I'll occasionally ask a staff member if he's played a particular title, and if so, what he thinks of it. Other than that, I use none of the 'features.' I could also buy approximately twice as many games online. I also think the store would probably stay afloat thru CCGs. My final rationalization is that the online store I'm considering purchasing from is owned by a couple, not some huge Hasborg-like corporation.

When it comes to saving $4.00 on Sleuth, I've never had much problem going with the locals, but when it comes to saving $40.00 on War of the Ring, I really have to consider whether I want to spend $70.00 on just one game or on that one and an extra two or three.

Has anyone else struggled with this issue? Easy is the path to the Dark Side...
 
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Teacher Fletcher
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I personally don't have this dilemma. The closest I have to a "local store" is (a) a comic book store whose main income is comic books and paperbacks and (b) Gamers Paradise, whose main income is stuff like Magic: the Gathering and D&D.

Course, both of those places sell more BGG-oriented stuff, and once in awhile I will buy a single game from them if the shipping from an online store would more-or-less make it even. Otherwise, nope. TWS and places like that will continue to get my business.
 
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Jon M
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Try to ask them to price match
See if they will match or reduce their prices for you. If you go in and say - "Look I can get this and that on the internet for X and Y - can you get close?" they might go for it. War of the Ring for $70 seems very steep.
 
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Adam Smiles
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No reason you can't get the best of both worlds. There's no reason that 100% of your game purchases have to come from a single source. You can make some purchases online to save you some dough and some purchases in the store to help support the local B&M.
 
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Phil Shepherd
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Teacher,

I didn't want to name names, but TWS was exactly the site with the lowest prices, although they didn't have a couple of the new titles I was looking at.
 
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Stephen Tavener
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Sad but true...
Online stores will generally be around 1/3 cheaper. You're paying for the rent on a building in a good location, insurance, staffing, and all the rest of it.

I actually do a mixture; most of my games come via trading/online purchases, with occasional impulse buys from a shop if I'm in a hurry, or happen to be passing.
 
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David Boeren
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Local vs. Online
Yow! Your local store sounds incredible! I wish the stores here took trade-ins, I could get a few bucks for my older unplayed games and have more selection of OOP stuff to browse through.

Anyway, it's an issue we all have to deal with. I try to support the local stores when I can, particularly on small items like card games where the price difference isn't a big deal. However, online isn't just about price, it's about SELECTION. Frankly, even when I go to the local store with money in hand just LOOKING to fork it over, there are plenty of times when I just can't find any games I want. I own most of the common stuff now, and I'm getting into that more selective phase where I'm looking for specific titles, and they are hard to find.

Example: A few months ago I placed a big order and picked up Serenissima, Stephenson's Rocket, Marracash, and Samurai I can't get any of those locally, except maybe Samurai if I'm lucky. Nowadays my interests are mainly either new releases, german-only games, or OOP, and it's getting harder to buy local since they just don't have them.

Anyway, my advice is to do what you can to be a good citizen but realize that there is a place for both kinds of stores. Ordering online once in a while doesn't make you a nazi kitten-eater after all.

ps - Clocktowers is out?
 
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Teacher Fletcher
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Phil, TWS has the best prices and have stocked the vast majority of in-print games I've ever looked for. They offer the best prices on shipping. Also, no sales tax. Even better, they offer great service and fast communication via email.

I am sorry, no brick-and-mortar store is going to be able to compete with that, in my book.
 
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shumyum
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It's a dilemna for me too. I'd say I order 70% online and 30% at the my favorite shop (which has a weekly game night that I DO take advantage of).

The thing is, the online stores ARE for the most part "mom and pop" if not "brick and mortar". And I'm an old timer enough to remember when the online stores (namely Funagain and Boulder) practically created the American market for Euro-games (Rio Grande played a big part in this as well). Also, I'm as cheap as hell. I really feel little guilt in supporting the online stores.

I DO buy stuff from my local store, though. In particular, things that I can't find at the online stores (out-of-print games, and toys and puzzles for my kids). I spend so much on this hobby, why not spread the money around.
 
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Marshall P.
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My brick and morter store
My brick and morter store offers deep discounts if you are a "regular". They don't have much of a selection but they'll order anything. And since they get a quick shipment from their supplier I can order by email on Thursday and the game will be there on Saturday ready for our game night. The final price is usually comparable to what I would have paid online with shipping so it is almost a no brainer to support the store.
 
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Valdir Jorge
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I feel your pain...
Hi Phil!

I feel your pain... Here in Montreal we have a very good FLGS, I have bought most of my games there, but their prices are sometimes horrendous when compared to some online shops. For instance I wanted to buy Medina. Their price? Can$ 56! The price in a game shop somewhere in the Netherlands? Eighteen euros! I almost cried... cry Another one: their price for Alhambra is Can$ 40. Compare that with the US$ 11 just recently announced here in these journal entries and you would cry, too! cry Even adding shipping and handling charges I would come out ahead even if I only wanted to buy one of these games!

I promised myself that this is the last Christmas I'm going to buy from them, next Christmas I'm definitely going online!...
 
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Brian Rowe
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Local Shops
There are two fabulous shops here in the Twin Cities, and between them I have an amazing selection of games. That and Fantasy Flight Games happens to be here. . . I just feel that I can spend a bit extra and support the local community that keeps the industry going. The games I choose are much-considered purchases, and I have no problem paying the asking price for them. If I did have an issue with the price, I'd ask myself whether I really wanted it that badly or not. [I'm not a collector.]

Besides, one store in particular has strong contacts with the overseas games market & US publishers, they order obscure titles without hassles (their game buyer picks titles that anyone on the 'Geek would drool over, anyway), and I love how they will pop the shrinkwrap for a customer, allow an examination of the rules/components, and then not mind if a purchase doesn't immediately follow.

 
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a small piece of advice...
but when it comes to saving $40.00 on War of the Ring, I really have to consider whether I want to spend $70.00 on just one game or on that one and an extra two or three.

Phil. You might want to double check your math. War of the Ring has a recommended retail of $59.99 from FFG. Assume that your FLGS pays perhaps $31 plus shipping and your assertion is that you can buy the game at wholesale or even below. That's unlikely unless someone can't sell it and wants to lose a few bucks to get rid of it.

I have weighed in on this subject many, many times so I'll reduce my commentary to a few points, which only apply to those Geeks who have an actual b&m store in their area:

Take the same order you would give an online retailer and go ask your local store to price match as close as they can if you pay up front. Factor in such things as shipping otherwise your comparison is unfair. Also assume that you won't get the exact same deal because your FLGS has more costs associated with serving you.

If they suck as a store, then educate them rather than bitch about how they suck.

If they refuse to be educated, then abandon them.

If you have stores and want there to be stores, then shop at them. If you can't figure out why buying local is worth a few extra bucks then we'll all have an interesting website in a few years... we'll be discussing the demise of the Golden Era of Boardgaming and why it happened.
 
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Darcy Burgess
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The Other Side of Local Stores
I'm not going to name the store, but a little background would be helpful. They've been in the area for (literally) decades, and are the only serious gamer's store in town. They do RPGs, Boardgames (German & War), CCGs, the whole shebang. To top things off, they carry a really wide variety of titles.

And I'll never give them my business again. Here's why:

Me: Hi. I'm looking for Sorcerer from Adept Press.
Store Guy: What by who?
Me: Sorcerer. Adept Press.
SG: We don't have that.
Me: Could you get it in for me?
(Store Guy does not move a muscle.)
SG: Nah. I doubt it.
Me: Thanks.
(leaves with a grimace)

What makes matters worse is this: the book isn't carried by every Canadian distributor. However, it's carried by this store's primary distributor. The guy couldn't be bothered to lift a finger to flip through the catalogue that was lying open in front of him.

So, I take my business where the service is. I get great service from Jogo canada (on the web), and they don't jerk me around.

The only downside is having to wait for my games...but the suspense is really quite fun.
 
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Most of my games have come from online shops and/or eBay, but enough of them have come from the local game retailer to settle my conscious. Since the owner lets us play there once a week, and one Sunday out of every month, at no charge, it's almost mandatory that we support him in one way or another. Admittedly, I tend to get stuff from the store only when it has a copy of an OOP or OOS game (I saw Power Grid just yesterday); newer stuff I can get online at a much cheaper price. Also, if it's a card game I want, it's much easier just to get it from the store, since the amount I save through an online retailer will only accrue back through shipping charges.

I'm split, probably 70/40 between online & retail.
 
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yep.
I'm split, probably 70/40 between online & retail.

Phil and Isaac must have taken math together.
 
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Charles Licata
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Dilema Two
I am that old guy who the kids run from because not matter what anyone says, I have a story for it and a lot of times the stories end up having nothing to do with the orgional conversation.

The Dilema:

Do I start a new post with the story I have.

-or-

Do I add clutter to the comments of someone's journal entry.

Today, I will add clutter.
 
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Charles Licata
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I remeber when I was your age ...
There is this store where I grew up. A hobby store with tons of models, tons of trains, and tons of games. Whatever the guy does not sell in his inventory stays on the shelf. He will never put an item on sale and he will never cut you a deal. Just walking the isles is like a time capsule into my youth.

However, if he ends up going out of business, so be it.

On the other hand, when I first seriously got into gaming there was a game store where I lived. On occasion they would clear the inventory with excellent discounts, they would give discounts if you wanted to buy an army of miniatures, they would discount if you were willing to demo the discounted game in the store. The store flourished since there were reasons to go there and sometimes save money and other times to pay full price.

Two completely different places and strategies.

The first will most likely cave due to the internet and I think he deserves it. The other will thrive regardless and they deserve it.

Motor and Brick will survive if they take an active part in being a member of a community rather then just a retail store.

Moral of the Story:

Always wear clean underwear.
 
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Charles Licata
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Dang it!

I always miss the second "m" when typing Remember. You think I would remeber not to do that!

Dang it! Did it again.
 
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Phil and Isaac must have taken math together

be careful who you're laughin' about. our math teacher once mocked us that 40% of our class would fail the math exam - but we weren't even so many students in the class! what a loser.
 
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think about this...
I don't think the demise of a few local stores will cause the demise of boardgaming. For that matter I don't think gamers who purchase hundreds of dollars in games choosing to buy online will kill those stores. There are plenty of people who only buy now and then that will walk in and purchase something.

I didn't say online discounters will cause the demise of boardgaming. You are incorrect though, online retailers have already taken enough business from B&M stores that there is a continuous decrease in retail game stores, not an increase.

This is either good, bad or neutral, depending on how you view it. I view it as bad because ftf demo, impulse buying and organized leagues, tournaments and game nights are the main driving force behind why board games have undergone a resurgance the last 10 years. FLGS's are not the only reason games are popular, but they are a major reason and if you remove too many of the basics of success you end up with failure.

But what do I know?
 
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Stephen Harkleroad
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Hmm. This reminds me of the old "Wal Mart is destroying downtown shops" arguments. So I'll spin a story of my own.

Wal Mart came to our town (pop: 5,000+, plus the county) around fifteen years ago, and, as expected, the downtown shops cried foul. Now, back in the day, when LBJ was president, you couldn't find a parking space downtown. Nowadays, the place was dead, with just enough business to keep everybody aflot. WIth the arrival of Wal Mart, though, everyone expected cataclysm.

Which, of course, it did.

There were two clothing stores. Both were standard clothing stores, catering to both sexes, basically the equivalent of today's departmnt store merchandise. One store stuck to their old pricing schedule, advertised at the same times and the same rates, and didn't change a thing. The other store started getting exotic imported clothing, hired a seamstress, specialized in wedding dresses, suits, etc., held big, publisized sales, would special order anything you wanted--basically did everything that Wal Mart couldn't (or wouldn't) do, but they were fundamentally a clothing store. I don't have to tell you which one is still here today.

The B&M stores have to adapt--and I would think that the owners of such stores are creative enough to realize that. My local store--and by "local" I mean about 30 miles away--has horribly priced games, but they do put stuff on sale when it doesn't move. I generally use them to browse, and I'll almost always pick up something--but rarely a full game, usually just sale items or supplies like card covers and dice. Just about all my real game purchases are online. And they're willing to cut a deal, thank goodness, though the best deal I was ever offered, I didn't have the money for right then and there, and of course the clerk that offered it to me could no longer be found. I think a mixture of these things will make sure the B&M will retain their usefulness.
 
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Phil Shepherd
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Phil. You might want to double check your math. War of the Ring has a recommended retail of $59.99 from FFG. Assume that your FLGS pays perhaps $31 plus shipping and your assertion is that you can buy the game at wholesale or even below. That's unlikely unless someone can't sell it and wants to lose a few bucks to get rid of it.

Tripp,

I’ve done the math and I’ve been supporting this FLGS exclusively (the only exception being browsing eBay for OOP titles) for three years. I know what FFG’s suggested retail for the game is, and I also know that my FLGS is charging $10 above and beyond that. Aside from their prices this is a fantastic store, as I’ve tried to detail in my entry. At TWS I can get a dented box copy for $39.99 and a ‘regular’ copy for $41.50. I would mitigate the shipping by adding additional titles to my order, every one of which is significantly cheaper than at my FLGS.

So here’s the math for War of the Ring, T&E, Pirate’s Cove, Boomtown and Dracula, tax and shipping included:

FLGS: $215.61 (VA Sales tax 4.5%)
TWS: $145.00 ($14.39 in shipping)
Difference: $70.61

Should I extrapolate on how many more games I can buy at TWS with the $70.61 vs my FLGS?

I’m not against the FLGS, but $70 is $70, and I’m starting to rethink my position.
 
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Charles Licata
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Gimmicks
One of the greatest things a B&M store can do is give away the advertising gimmicks they get for free. Heck, you have an old poster in the window for some archaic game. There is a cutomer who will want it and that customer will be that much more loyal to the store for getting it (FOR FREE!). But nope, most stores I know let the employees (or friends of employees) take them.

Being an employee should have its perks, but not to the detriment of the relationship between customer and store.

I have a story ...

A store I use to go to had a manager. He had a policy. If a parent walked in with a game such as D&D and said their kid got it as a gift (or whatever), but they did not want them to have it because they heard it was evil, he would take it back. No receipt, no questions asked, nothing.

His view is the returned item will sell, the store will not be at a loss (technically speacking), and you have happy parents that would say something positive about the store when they go to church on Sunday.
 
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Tom
Actually Tom, if you read this thread and many others like it I think you'll see that no matter if a store offers what you suggest, many people will buy online even to save $5 or sometimes less. Just read above, one guy presented a store that has to be a great place, yet he'll never buy there because some dipshit clerk didn't "hop to it" on demand.

My question here is this -> will that Geek hold McDonald's, the Canadian Postal Service, Ford Motor Company and every other merchant or manufacturer to the same standards as he held the clerk and the store owner? Will he no longer eat a Big Mac because a minimu wage slug got his order wrong once? And if his much vaunted online merchant screws up once, will he come on the Geek and denounce them like he did the store?

What I am suggesting is simple, if you treat your FLGS with the same tolerance you treat any other business I think you'd probably want to shop locally. But FLGS's get their feet held to the fire on primarily one issue -> money.

Availability, pricing, convenience, all of those aspects of consumerism are part of games as well, and just like you can't always get what you want, when you want it and at the price you prefer when it comes to boots, hats, cars, food and other consumer items, the same is true of games.

As a long time game store owner I can tell you this: there is a growing resentment against a B&M owner making a profit and yet I've never heard a single peep about online discounters profits, distributor profits and even very little about publisher profits or designer profits.

Perhaps you can answer why, in the eyes of the gamer, every tier of the industry can make money but the retail store is chastised for making a buck?

That last question is, using math I read earlier in this thread, 70% rhetorical and 40% genuine. I think I know the answer but I don't really believe it's of any significance amongst enthusiasts.

 
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