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Subject: A "new" FLGS - sad state of affairs... rss

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Muziq
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Yesterday I went to check out a FLGS I hadn't been before. It was without doubt the worst experience in a game store I've had so far. With the Dicetower episode about stores just behind us I wanted to share it with the community:

In the middle of the store the store owners (husband and wife I guess) were playing a game of Magic. When I entered the guy mumbled a quick "hello" but didn't look up and just kept playing. Beside the table their daughter was playing a really LOUD computer game. In fact: it was so loud I had to fight the urge to walk over there and turn the volume down.

They never said another word to me and even proceeded to argue some Magic rule while I was looking at the games on a shelf near the table they were playing on. The collection of games wasn't impressive and horribly, horribly overpriced (Runewars for €87 euros which is about $125 dollars, really??!!!). I walked out of there in about five minutes and I'll make sure never to return.

I just don't understand this! Did anyone here have similar or worse experiences recently?
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Sweetgotham
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Yes. I have. Just because you love a hobby, industry, or love to cook etc, doesn't make you a good business person.
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Alan Reeve
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So, just to make sure I understand... the experience was horrible because:

a) The owner didn't hold your hand and walk you around the store making playful, friendly banter throughout.
b) You didn't like the prices.
c) The daughter was playing a computer game at a volume that you found unacceptable.

I guess what I'm saying is that while that doesn't sound like they rolled out the red carpet for you (which will be reflected in their sales) it also doesn't sound like it comes to close to some of the truly horrible experiences I've read here.
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Muziq
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adreeve wrote:
So, just to make sure I understand... the experience was horrible because:

a) The owner didn't hold your hand and walk you around the store making playful, friendly banter throughout.


Yes! I need that

Actually: two weeks ago I was in a store in Belgium filled with the dreaded "gamerfunk" and bad lighting, BUT the the guy behind the counter was very friendly and I bought something there because of him!

BTW: I nowhere write that the experience was "horrible" (like you seem to suggest I did). I did say "horribly" overpriced!
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John Peterson
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adreeve wrote:
So, just to make sure I understand... the experience was horrible because:

a) The owner didn't hold your hand and walk you around the store making playful, friendly banter throughout.
b) You didn't like the prices.
c) The daughter was playing a computer game at a volume that you found unacceptable.

I guess what I'm saying is that while that doesn't sound like they rolled out the red carpet for you (which will be reflected in their sales) it also doesn't sound like it comes to close to some of the truly horrible experiences I've read here.


A game store is a retail business and retail business is sustained by repeat customers. Poor customer service is a MAJOR problem. An environment that is unpleasant or not welcoming is another MAJOR problem. Overpriced games are a minor problem, but ONLY if the store excels in the other two areas. In this case, it is a MAJOR problem. Three strikes and you're out.

Regarding the poster's comments, it was the worst experience they had ever had. I would agree that it isn't the worst I've seen here, but that's not what they indicated.
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Sweetgotham
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Maybe not, but it is piss poor business scene and customer service. No one ever comes on here to brag that they just made a purchase at a store where all the owner/worker did was ring them up. People don;t require hand-holding, hell, even having games at MSRP is acceptable and to be expected when time is an issue but there is no excuse to even pretend to have the consumer in mind with a more pleasant "Hi! Anything I can help you with?" I, as a shopper, may way a hand and say that I am just looking but I do further associate that store/person with somewhere I CAN go with questions, a place a special order may be made, some info of upcoming releases or *gasp* recommendations based on purchases. So, yeah, I totally get what the OP is saying and while it is not the worst experience posed about, it is a sign that that isn't a store with visiting.
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John Peterson
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Recent experiences, no, but there was a store in Cary, NC (out of business for many years now), where the owner sat in a recliner in front of a TV all day long. You'd walk in and, if you were lucky, he'd grunt at you. Usually not, though.

The occasional tournament relied almost completely on volunteers from the companies, with little to no enthusiasm from the owner. Unless you saw a flier or asked him directly, you'd probably not even know they were having them.

Prices. Straight list.
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Andy Andersen
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My FLGS is kind of a lonely, dark place. But the people working there are great so it's a pleasure to visit.
 
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John Peterson
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sweetgotham wrote:
Yes. I have. Just because you love a hobby, industry, or love to cook etc, doesn't make you a good business person.


This statement is absolutely SPOT ON. I've seen many stores with this problem....
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Wasabi_Eater wrote:
adreeve wrote:
So, just to make sure I understand... the experience was horrible because:

a) The owner didn't hold your hand and walk you around the store making playful, friendly banter throughout.


Yes! I need that

Actually: two weeks ago I was in a store in Belgium filled with the dreaded "gamerfunk" and bad lighting, BUT the the guy behind the counter was very friendly and I bought something there because of him!

BTW: I nowhere write that the experience was "horrible" (like you seem to suggest I did). I did say "horribly" overpriced!


I would advise most people who read this and the OP that shopping in the US is not really the same as shopping in Europe.
Customer service is a very important part of a business. And I agree with the poster to have ignored a potential customer like this flgs person did was wrong. However I can find fault with the OP.
1 how do you know this was the owner and not some employee? you didn't seem to ask
2 from there everything is suspect. So why don't you go back for a second run and see if there is someone else in there who might help you make you feel better if you have questions and you might let them know how your first visit went. That way everybody learns something.
3 I wouldn't buy anything from an overpriced store for any reason and in this day and age knowing what you want and what it will cost is easy.

Good luck with your FLGS shopping because it sounds pretty dismal there if you ask me.gulp
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Byron
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Personally, I like when they let me browse by myself. I HATE it when they follow me around, or watch me like a hawk thinking that I am going to steal. But I could see how that might be detrimental to someone who doesn't know the hobby very good. They might need the assistance.
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Caleb
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soiledshortz wrote:
Personally, I like when they let me browse by myself. I HATE it when they follow me around, or watch me like a hawk thinking that I am going to steal. But I could see how that might be detrimental to someone who doesn't know the hobby very good. They might need the assistance.


This is why it's good to ask initially, as you welcome the person into the store, whether they need help. If they say 'no thanks' then you let them browse, maybe with a check-in 10 minutes later to remind them you're there and happy to answer questions. This is just common sense and good customer service. Sadly, many stores (FLGS are hardly the only ones) don't bother with even this minimal level of service.
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Brent Mair
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I can't consider this to be a really bad FLGS unless you post something about a smell.
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J.L. Robert
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NOT an FLGS...there was no FRIENDLY element to the experience. Don't call it something that it clearly isn't.

Were they open to any suggestions at improving their business model?

In the end, it's a store in YOUR neighborhood. If they need to improve in certain areas, you can either help them or condemn them to failure. And if the store fails, it clearly harms them, but how does that help you?
 
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Muziq
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skotkolr wrote:
Wasabi_Eater wrote:
adreeve wrote:
So, just to make sure I understand... the experience was horrible because:

a) The owner didn't hold your hand and walk you around the store making playful, friendly banter throughout.


Yes! I need that

Actually: two weeks ago I was in a store in Belgium filled with the dreaded "gamerfunk" and bad lighting, BUT the the guy behind the counter was very friendly and I bought something there because of him!

BTW: I nowhere write that the experience was "horrible" (like you seem to suggest I did). I did say "horribly" overpriced!


I would advise most people who read this and the OP that shopping in the US is not really the same as shopping in Europe.
Customer service is a very important part of a business. And I agree with the poster to have ignored a potential customer like this flgs person did was wrong. However I can find fault with the OP.
1 how do you know this was the owner and not some employee? you didn't seem to ask

You're right, I didn't ask. I assumed because the girl playing computer games on the floor was clearly their daughter (at one point her mother was annoyed with her daughter for moving the table or some other thing, anyway clearly a mother talking to her daughter). They were also the only people in the store.

It wasn't that I felt they should help me (or hold my hand), it was the fact that they completely ignored me and just kept playing their game, arguing (also with their daughter). I felt embarrased almost guilty for being there like I was intruding; this is why it was a bad experience for me. Maybe that wasn't clear from the original post.
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John Peterson
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J.L.Robert wrote:
NOT an FLGS...there was no FRIENDLY element to the experience. Don't call it something that it clearly isn't.

Were they open to any suggestions at improving their business model?

In the end, it's a store in YOUR neighborhood. If they need to improve in certain areas, you can either help them or condemn them to failure. And if the store fails, it clearly harms them, but how does that help you?


I've given advice to game store owners in the past based on my customer perspective/experience. Rarely is it accepted (usually it is just blown off). Sadly, when I've lived in places where there were many stores to choose from, I've heard the same criticisms of the stores from other (frequently former) customers. I'm guessing many of these store owners, when they close their doors, can't seem to get a handle on why it didn't work out....
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Alan Reeve
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scubadawg1 wrote:
adreeve wrote:
So, just to make sure I understand... the experience was horrible because:

a) The owner didn't hold your hand and walk you around the store making playful, friendly banter throughout.
b) You didn't like the prices.
c) The daughter was playing a computer game at a volume that you found unacceptable.

I guess what I'm saying is that while that doesn't sound like they rolled out the red carpet for you (which will be reflected in their sales) it also doesn't sound like it comes to close to some of the truly horrible experiences I've read here.


A game store is a retail business and retail business is sustained by repeat customers. Poor customer service is a MAJOR problem. An environment that is unpleasant or not welcoming is another MAJOR problem. Overpriced games are a minor problem, but ONLY if the store excels in the other two areas. In this case, it is a MAJOR problem. Three strikes and you're out.

Regarding the poster's comments, it was the worst experience they had ever had. I would agree that it isn't the worst I've seen here, but that's not what they indicated.


And I believe I covered that when I said "which will be reflected in their sales" although perhaps that was too subtle. I just get the impression that sometimes we all love to rag on a FLGS (or LGS as someone said) all too often. The customer had no idea whether this guy was having a bad day, a bad game of Magic, or any of a myriad of factors as if we are all on our best behavior 24/7. But then goes on to rag on prices like the guy was sitting on a stack of gold bricks just waiting to head on home to his mansion built on the sales of overprices board games. I think sometimes we need to cut people a break. Perhaps he had just analyzed the prior month's sales report?

I do applaud the OP for not posting the store's name, though.
 
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Alan Reeve
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scubadawg1 wrote:
I've given advice to game store owners in the past based on my customer perspective/experience. Rarely is it accepted (usually it is just blown off).


I think that goes for most businesses. Most business owners think the customers are peons that couldn't possibly have a valid suggestion. I made a suggestion to my vet once regarding their website (they had made a serious business mistake IMHO) and the guy just "listened" and nodded. I knew the advice was going in one ear and out the other without any processing going on.
 
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Steve Duff
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Wasabi_Eater wrote:
They never said another word to me and even proceeded to argue some Magic rule while I was looking at the games on a shelf near the table they were playing on.


Loud music, expensive, fine, those are high negative marks against, but I've never understood this complaint. Above is what I want to happen when I go into *any* store. Say hello, then stay the !@$% away from me while I shop.

If I want your opinion or have a question about a product I'll ask you for it.
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Andy Andersen
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adreeve wrote:
scubadawg1 wrote:
I've given advice to game store owners in the past based on my customer perspective/experience. Rarely is it accepted (usually it is just blown off).


I think that goes for most businesses. Most business owners think the customers are peons that couldn't possibly have a valid suggestion. I made a suggestion to my vet once regarding their website (they had made a serious business mistake IMHO) and the guy just "listened" and nodded. I knew the advice was going in one ear and out the other without any processing going on.



I don't agree that it is the case with most businesses. I've made suggestions to my doctor, our vet, our pizza place and many more. The owners all listened and either told me that they had tried the idea and it didn't work, or that they would try it to see if it would work. Business owners want to be successful and want to see their customers treated well. If you're not getting satisfaction, give somebody else the business. There are many out there willing to go the extra mile for you.

Happy hunting.
 
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TheFlatline wrote:
This was the worst part of your entire experience for me.



Agreed. Magic has destroyed many great or potentially great game stores by becoming the singular focus.
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John Peterson
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Ninjabob wrote:
TheFlatline wrote:
This was the worst part of your entire experience for me.



Agreed. Magic has destroyed many great or potentially great game stores by becoming the singular focus.


Man, oh man, is this a pet peeve of mine. I talked to a game store operator I know late last year about this when I saw it come up in a thread back then. I asked him what percent of his revenue came from Magic (that's right JUST MAGIC), it was VERY SIGNIFICANT. Mind you, this guy's store has an amazing selection of board, card and miniature games, including OOP stuff.

That being said, I like playing casual Magic against other casual Magic players. I've never done tournaments, but I have a nice collection. I appreciate what the game is, and what it does for the hobby.

Magic is important to many game stores because:
1. It takes a fraction of the space of traditional board games and miniature games.
2. It has an active competition/tournament scene.
3. It encourages regular purchases (like it or not, that's good for the store).
4. It encourages customers to linger at the store, increasing both trading and the singles market.

If Magic died, I think a lot of stores would go with it....

So I'd would say the following: Magic has SUSTAINED many a great or potentially great game stores.
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Wasabi_Eater wrote:
They never said another word to me and even proceeded to argue some Magic rule while I was looking at the games on a shelf near the table they were playing on.


Loud music, expensive, fine, those are high negative marks against, but I've never understood this complaint. Above is what I want to happen when I go into *any* store. Say hello, then stay the !@$% away from me while I shop.

If I want your opinion or have a question about a product I'll ask you for it.


I agree on this. But greeting me is important. Any store where the clerk stands behind the counter/register and texts, talks on a cell phone, or just pretends like I don't exist has already started off on the wrong foot for my business....
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John Peterson
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adreeve wrote:
scubadawg1 wrote:
adreeve wrote:
So, just to make sure I understand... the experience was horrible because:

a) The owner didn't hold your hand and walk you around the store making playful, friendly banter throughout.
b) You didn't like the prices.
c) The daughter was playing a computer game at a volume that you found unacceptable.

I guess what I'm saying is that while that doesn't sound like they rolled out the red carpet for you (which will be reflected in their sales) it also doesn't sound like it comes to close to some of the truly horrible experiences I've read here.


A game store is a retail business and retail business is sustained by repeat customers. Poor customer service is a MAJOR problem. An environment that is unpleasant or not welcoming is another MAJOR problem. Overpriced games are a minor problem, but ONLY if the store excels in the other two areas. In this case, it is a MAJOR problem. Three strikes and you're out.

Regarding the poster's comments, it was the worst experience they had ever had. I would agree that it isn't the worst I've seen here, but that's not what they indicated.


And I believe I covered that when I said "which will be reflected in their sales" although perhaps that was too subtle. I just get the impression that sometimes we all love to rag on a FLGS (or LGS as someone said) all too often. The customer had no idea whether this guy was having a bad day, a bad game of Magic, or any of a myriad of factors as if we are all on our best behavior 24/7. But then goes on to rag on prices like the guy was sitting on a stack of gold bricks just waiting to head on home to his mansion built on the sales of overprices board games. I think sometimes we need to cut people a break. Perhaps he had just analyzed the prior month's sales report?

I do applaud the OP for not posting the store's name, though.


I appreciate the "bad day" comment. I went to a local restaurant with my family months ago and asked for my favorite waiter. He was off, so we got "the next guy on the list". He handled our visit and, technically, did everything right in terms of what a server should do (take the order, refills, bring the meals, etc.), but was sullen and grumpy. We had him again as a server a couple months later. He was friendly, talkative, fun, and gave great customer service. So different, in fact, that I asked him what his deal was. I explained his surly attitude the one time and his complete change now. He said that on that particular day he has served a table of 12 people, all you can eat ribs for everyone, running to and from the kitchen the entire time, and they left him change (and not much change) for a tip. He apologized for it, but said he just couldn't shake the "funk" it put him in....

The OP should go back once or twice to see if the demeanor changes, but I suspect that it probably won't....
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John Peterson
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Spielguy wrote:
I can't consider this to be a really bad FLGS unless you post something about a smell.


Nice.

I think this is a by product of the narrow margins on brick and mortar game stores. You'll get either lower rent spaces with inadequate cooling (and fans wreak havoc on games with small pieces/cards) or small spaces where everyone is crammed into a small space trying to play their games without elbowing the guy/gal next to them.

As a person who is (unfortunately) significantly overweight and (likely due to my Scandinavian lineage) on the hairy side, I can say that I try to maintain a spring-like freshness (I'll even pack deodorant for a "refresher"), but it is nearly impossible.

That being said, I don't care for the guy who smells like an ashtray and has to leave the gaming table every 30-45 minutes to smoke a cigarette, or the one who's texting/talking to someone on their phone, or the ones with a pretentious "I know it all" or "my personal self-esteem depends on winning this game" attitudes.

So you may not smell yourself (or you may not know it), but you may be contributing to the negative experiences of others for other reasons....
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