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Subject: Best Game Store in Boston? rss

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David Schuth
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I will be heading to Boston, MA this weekend. Since it is my first trip to this city, I am going to try to make the most of it and visit the local game stores.

I have uncovered five game stores, and I was wondering what folks think are the best ones since I have a limited amount of time to visit. Additionally, if there are any that I should know about that I haven't listed, I would also be interested in those.

1. Eureka Puzzles
2. Pandemonium Books & Games
3. JP Comics and Games
4. Compleat Strategist
5. The Games People Play

Thank you for all your help!
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Steve B
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I've been to Pandemonium and The Games People Play...here's the difference in these stores:

Pandemonium has books on the ground floor and games in the basement. The basement also contains many tables to play games at. It's more of your usual nerd/hobby store place.

The Games People Play is one floor filled with games and is more inviting to regular people. There are no tables nor the CCG crowd.

In terms of prices I haven't been to either enough to tell you the differences. What I can tell you though is I usually see rarer stuff at Pandemonium.

Also, where are you staying? Pandemonium and The Game People Play are in Cambridge. Not sure how much travel time you'll have, though the T is pretty fast.
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David Schuth
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ImaginaryRoot wrote:
I've been to Pandemonium and The Games People Play...here's the difference in these stores:

Pandemonium has books on the ground floor and games in the basement. The basement also contains many tables to play games at. It's more of your usual nerd/hobby store place.

The Games People Play is one floor filled with games and is more inviting to regular people. There are no tables nor the CCG crowd.

In terms of prices I haven't been to either enough to tell you the differences. What I can tell you though is I usually see rarer stuff at Pandemonium.

Also, where are you staying? Pandemonium and The Game People Play are in Cambridge. Not sure how much travel time you'll have, though the T is pretty fast.


I'm staying at the Mariott Copley Place. I think I will have Thursday and Friday evening free, with travel by train/subway the way I will be traveling.

Thanks for the response. Here's a thumbs up and a GG for your trouble!
 
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Rob Duarte
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I haven't lived in Boston in a long time, but when I went to college there I lived right near The Compleat Strategist. I'm not even sure if the particular store I lived near is still there. It was on Massachusetts Avenue and was basically a small store front. It looks like there is one on Commonwealth Ave as well. I had never seen anything like it at the time. They were pretty much catering to the hardcore war game crowd and had almost anything Avalon Hill you could want along with many other war games. But this was a long time ago and I'm sure they have branched out...if they survived this long they must have.

As was quoted above Pandemonium and TGPP are in Cambridge, but you can reach them both from the Harvard Square stop on the red line. Pandemonium is easier to find as it is in a small mall right in the heart of Harvard Square. TGPP is about a 4-5 minute walk from the T stop IIRC. Again, these are hazy recollections, but Pandemonium seemed to be more a D&D/Magic: The Gathering/Fantasy geek store. TGPP was definitely more a traditional hobby gaming store.

One vivid memory I have is going to TGPP during a heavy snow storm. I walked through near blizzard conditions to get there and I bought Pro Football Fantasm as a complete impulse purchase. I never even heard of the game as this was back before the explosion of the internet. I had only previously been exposed to Strat-O-Matic football and this new game was like the ASL of sports games. I have not seen it anywhere since. Anyhow, I digress.
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David Schuth
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budsticky wrote:
I haven't lived in Boston in a long time, but when I went to college there I lived right near The Compleat Strategist. I'm not even sure if the particular store I lived near is still there. It was on Massachusetts Avenue and was basically a small store front. It looks like there is one on Commonwealth Ave as well. I had never seen anything like it at the time. They were pretty much catering to the hardcore war game crowd and had almost anything Avalon Hill you could want along with many other war games. But this was a long time ago and I'm sure they have branched out...if they survived this long they must have.

As was quoted above Pandemonium and TGPP are in Cambridge, but you can reach them both from the Harvard Square stop on the red line. Pandemonium is easier to find as it is in a small mall right in the heart of Harvard Square. TGPP is about a 4-5 minute walk from the T stop IIRC. Again, these are hazy recollections, but Pandemonium seemed to be more a D&D/Magic: The Gathering/Fantasy geek store. TGPP was definitely more a traditional hobby gaming store.

One vivid memory I have is going to TGPP during a heavy snow storm. I walked through near blizzard conditions to get there and I bought Pro Football Fantasm as a complete impulse purchase. I never even heard of the game as this was back before the explosion of the internet. I had only previously been exposed to Strat-O-Matic football and this new game was like the ASL of sports games. I have not seen it anywhere since. Anyhow, I digress.


Thanks, Rob!
 
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Without question, Compleat Strategist has the largest and most comprehensive collection of games in Boston. Even still, it largely consists of well-known current titles at full MSRP. It is my first stop if I am looking for a specific game.

Eureka has the best atmosphere and customer service of the Boston-area stores, but the selection is limited to whatever they feel like stocking. Smaller games, such as card games, and family-friendly games predominate. Don't expect to see a Fantasy Flight coffin-sized title here. However, this is my first stop if I'm in the mood to just browse because it is the most enjoyable store to simply be in.

(Although it is irrelevant to your particular trip, I will note for others that they also have a customer loyalty discount program and occaisionally have clearance sales.)

Games People Play is fine, and has a decent selection. Occaisionally, they have a title that surprises me (such as 1860), and they have quite a few uncommon wargames. Best of all, they put old merchandise on clearance every day. So if you're open to trying some unheard-of years-old game at half-price, you might stumble into a find.

Pandemonium primarily caters to kids playing Magic and Warhammer. Accordingly, their board games stock might be the smallest of the four (or it may just contain more titles of no interest to me), and I've never found anything threre not available elsewhere.
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David Schuth
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chally wrote:
Without question, Compleat Strategist has the largest and most comprehensive collection of games in Boston. Even still, it largely consists of well-known current titles at full MSRP. It is my first stop if I am looking for a specific game.

Eureka has the best atmosphere and customer service of the Boston-area stores, but the selection is limited to whatever they feel like stocking. Smaller games, such as card games, and family-friendly games predominate. Don't expect to see a Fantasy Flight coffin-sized title here. However, this is my first stop if I'm in the mood to just browse because it is the most enjoyable store to simply be in.

(Although it is irrelevant to your particular trip, I will note for others that they also have a customer loyalty discount program and occaisionally have clearance sales.)

Games People Play is fine, and has a decent selection. Occaisionally, they have a title that surprises me (such as 1860), and they have quite a few uncommon wargames. Best of all, they put old merchandise on clearance every day. So if you're open to trying some unheard-of years-old game at half-price, you might stumble into a find.

Pandemonium primarily caters to kids playing Magic and Warhammer. Accordingly, their board games stock might be the smallest of the four (or it may just contain more titles of no interest to me), and I've never found anything threre not available elsewhere.


Thanks, Ben. Nice avatar. Took me a minutesecond to make the connection. Have a thumb and a GG.
 
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mrteacherusa wrote:
I will be heading to Boston, MA this weekend. Since it is my first trip to this city, I am going to try to make the most of it and visit the local game stores.


1. Eureka Puzzles - Brookline - Closest T stop is Coolidge Corner on the Green Line (C line) - I have not been here, but the impression I've gotten from reviews and whatnot has been that they sell mostly family games and puzzles. For someone like me, that's not the selection I want in a game store.

2. Pandemonium Books & Games - Cambridge - Closest T stop is Central Sq. on the Red Line - You'll notice they list "Book" before "Games", and that holds true. Their top floor, which smells just as bad as the basement, is full of mostly second-hand sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks. The rest of that floor has some card games and their MtG counter. Don't expect much help from the staff. They're usually too busy comparing Magic cards with their friends to help you out with a sale. Descend into the basement, and it only gets worse. Poor lighting, slightly worse smell sometimes, very minimal board game selection. Most of the basement is either gaming tables or WH/WH40K kits/paints.

3. JP Comics and Games - Jamaica Plain - Closest T stop is Green St. on the Orange Line - I have not been to this store as well, but the impression I got here was that they are first and foremost a comic book store that sells a few games here and there.

4. Compleat Strategist - Allston - Closest T stop is Pleasant St on the Green Line (B line) - Picture the size of an average bedroom. Now picture that bedroom being at the end of a hallway next to a realtor in some nondescript building. That's Compleat Strategist. Let's hope there isn't another customer there when you drop by, or you two will be bumping elbows. Oddly enough, they have a bigger game selection than Pandemonium, but the atmosphere is just not conducive to browsing.

5. The Games People Play - Cambridge - Closest T stop is Harvard Sq. on the Red Line - This store is of a decent size and pretty easy to get to, but I was really let down by their selection. It was mostly family games and 10,000 piece puzzles with chess sets and other random games thrown in. They did have a section that had games most people on BGG would look for, but it was very sparse.


So, you might be asking, what does someone like me, who lives in the Boston area, use for a game store? I'm glad you asked. I actually make a 45-minute drive to Manchester, NH, to use a game store there. Friendly staff with a great knowledge of games. Huge selection of euros, AT, wargames, miniatures, etc. Good rewards program.
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David Schuth
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Tennberg wrote:
mrteacherusa wrote:
I will be heading to Boston, MA this weekend. Since it is my first trip to this city, I am going to try to make the most of it and visit the local game stores.


1. Eureka Puzzles - Brookline - Closest T stop is Coolidge Corner on the Green Line (C line) - I have not been here, but the impression I've gotten from reviews and whatnot has been that they sell mostly family games and puzzles. For someone like me, that's not the selection I want in a game store.

2. Pandemonium Books & Games - Cambridge - Closest T stop is Central Sq. on the Red Line - You'll notice they list "Book" before "Games", and that holds true. Their top floor, which smells just as bad as the basement, is full of mostly second-hand sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks. The rest of that floor has some card games and their MtG counter. Don't expect much help from the staff. They're usually too busy comparing Magic cards with their friends to help you out with a sale. Descend into the basement, and it only gets worse. Poor lighting, slightly worse smell sometimes, very minimal board game selection. Most of the basement is either gaming tables or WH/WH40K kits/paints.

3. JP Comics and Games - Jamaica Plain - Closest T stop is Green St. on the Orange Line - I have not been to this store as well, but the impression I got here was that they are first and foremost a comic book store that sells a few games here and there.

4. Compleat Strategist - Allston - Closest T stop is Pleasant St on the Green Line (B line) - Picture the size of an average bedroom. Now picture that bedroom being at the end of a hallway next to a realtor in some nondescript building. That's Compleat Strategist. Let's hope there isn't another customer there when you drop by, or you two will be bumping elbows. Oddly enough, they have a bigger game selection than Pandemonium, but the atmosphere is just not conducive to browsing.

5. The Games People Play - Cambridge - Closest T stop is Harvard Sq. on the Red Line - This store is of a decent size and pretty easy to get to, but I was really let down by their selection. It was mostly family games and 10,000 piece puzzles with chess sets and other random games thrown in. They did have a section that had games most people on BGG would look for, but it was very sparse.


So, you might be asking, what does someone like me, who lives in the Boston area, use for a game store? I'm glad you asked. I actually make a 45-minute drive to Manchester, NH, to use a game store there. Friendly staff with a great knowledge of games. Huge selection of euros, AT, wargames, miniatures, etc. Good rewards program.


Thanks for the breakdown and adding the T-stops, that's very helpful.

Have some GG and a thumb for your trouble.
 
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budsticky wrote:
I haven't lived in Boston in a long time, but when I went to college there I lived right near The Compleat Strategist. I'm not even sure if the particular store I lived near is still there. It was on Massachusetts Avenue and was basically a small store front. It looks like there is one on Commonwealth Ave as well. I had never seen anything like it at the time. They were pretty much catering to the hardcore war game crowd and had almost anything Avalon Hill you could want along with many other war games. But this was a long time ago and I'm sure they have branched out...if they survived this long they must have.

As was quoted above Pandemonium and TGPP are in Cambridge, but you can reach them both from the Harvard Square stop on the red line. Pandemonium is easier to find as it is in a small mall right in the heart of Harvard Square. TGPP is about a 4-5 minute walk from the T stop IIRC. Again, these are hazy recollections, but Pandemonium seemed to be more a D&D/Magic: The Gathering/Fantasy geek store. TGPP was definitely more a traditional hobby gaming store.

One vivid memory I have is going to TGPP during a heavy snow storm. I walked through near blizzard conditions to get there and I bought Pro Football Fantasm as a complete impulse purchase. I never even heard of the game as this was back before the explosion of the internet. I had only previously been exposed to Strat-O-Matic football and this new game was like the ASL of sports games. I have not seen it anywhere since. Anyhow, I digress.


Just wanted to point out that Pandemonium is no longer in Harvard Square. As others have noted, it's in Central Square on Pleasant St (around the corner from the 7-11).

Compleat Strategist also moved and has only one location in Boston, the one on Commonwealth Ave. They do have another store in NYC. It's very small but has a wide selection for such a small store and I think has the best selection of all the stores in the Boston area. They do have a table in the back for playing on.

My favorite is Eureka Puzzles because I like the generally friendly and community-oriented atmosphere. Their selection is about the same as Pandemonium's but is catering to a slightly different demographic so while at Pandemonium you're more likely to find all Arkham Horror expansions in quantity Eureka is more likely to have only one copy of Arkham and maybe one or two expansions in order to stock a wider variety in the space they have.

The Games People Play is a decent enough store and is worth stopping by since you'll undoubtedly end up in Harvard Square at some point, but there's nothing about it that draws me there over Eureka or The Compleat Strategist.

JP Comics and Games is also a good store but has the smallest selection of games of all those listed above. They don't pack their shelves tightly instead choosing to highlight specific games. It's also least easily accessible by T for me (I think there is a nearby stop on the Orange line though). I've only been a couple of times because it's a pain to get to. If you're looking to do some gaming while here, they do run game nights on Thursday nights, though I've never been so I don't know what the crowd is like.

MIT also has game nights at their SGS (Strategic Gaming Society) on Friday nights, though apparently there are people playing games there pretty much every night. It's in a building on Memorial Drive, but I forget what the building is called or anything. Maybe someone else can chime in. A point of interest is that this is somewhat of a point of origin for several popular games like Carl Chudyk's games as well as a few others that I don't remember right now.
 
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Mike Szarka
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I just returned last night from my first trip to Boston and bought three games in The Compleat Strategist. Not great deals, but I bought one valuable out of print game for MSRP (The Great Battles of Alexander: Deluxe Edition) which I was content to find at a fair price, and the other two games were priced fairly.

It's pretty small but it's crammed to the rafters and the selection is OK.
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Unfortunately you probably wouldn't be able to go to NH on this trip but there is a game shop called Myriad Games in Salem and Manchester NH. Great selection. Great staff...Great all around. It's probably about 45min to 1hour drive from Boston.

Just throwing that out there.
Enjoy your stay in Boston!
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radioboyeric wrote:
Unfortunately you probably wouldn't be able to go to NH on this trip but there is a game shop called Myriad Games in Salem and Manchester NH. Great selection. Great staff...Great all around. It's probably about 45min to 1hour drive from Boston.

Just throwing that out there.
Enjoy your stay in Boston!


That's the one I use :-) Glad to see someone else in MA thinks like me.
 
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Luce wrote:
[q="budsticky"]MIT also has game nights at their SGS (Strategic Gaming Society) on Friday nights, though apparently there are people playing games there pretty much every night. It's in a building on Memorial Drive, but I forget what the building is called or anything. Maybe someone else can chime in. A point of interest is that this is somewhat of a point of origin for several popular games like Carl Chudyk's games as well as a few others that I don't remember right now.


MIT SGS meets "every Friday at 7PM in MIT Building 50-316 (Walker Memorial Hall, Floor 3, Room 16). Gaming sessions typically go until around 12-2 AM." I went one time last summer with my family and it was quite enjoyable.
 
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Tennberg wrote:
radioboyeric wrote:
Unfortunately you probably wouldn't be able to go to NH on this trip but there is a game shop called Myriad Games in Salem and Manchester NH. Great selection. Great staff...Great all around. It's probably about 45min to 1hour drive from Boston.

Just throwing that out there.
Enjoy your stay in Boston!


That's the one I use :-) Glad to see someone else in MA thinks like me.


You are definitely not alone. Myriad Games is great. I stop there every time I am in NH.

No one has mentioned Scholar's in Bridgewater. It's a short walk from the Bridgewater stop on the commuter rail. I wouldn't make a special trip just to go there, though, unless you were able to come down on a Friday when a game group is getting together there. Search yahoo groups for Unity Games. Someone usually posts there when there will be people playing there.
 
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chally wrote:
Without question, Compleat Strategist has the largest and most comprehensive collection of games in Boston. Even still, it largely consists of well-known current titles at full MSRP. It is my first stop if I am looking for a specific game.


At least as recently as a few years ago, however, their rank and file staff was not up on the newer games.

chally wrote:
Games People Play is fine, and has a decent selection. Occaisionally, they have a title that surprises me (such as 1860), and they have quite a few uncommon wargames. Best of all, they put old merchandise on clearance every day. So if you're open to trying some unheard-of years-old game at half-price, you might stumble into a find.


Back in The Day™, GPP was the only place to get Euro games. They know, or used to know, what was coming out, and their selection couldn't be beat. But their prices were always MSRP. On the other hand, if a copy existed in the Greater Boston area, they'd have it. (My wife scored a copy of London for my birthday in May, and it was the only place that had a copy.
 
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Myriad also has a pretty good podcast. I've not been to the store yet, but I will if I get up that direction.
 
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jaiden0 wrote:
Myriad also has a pretty good podcast. I've not been to the store yet, but I will if I get up that direction.


It's definitely worth a trip. Their Salem store is the smaller of the two, but has an incredible selection nonetheless. If you're up that way and have the time, why not check out both? Their Manchester store is about 20 minutes north of the Salem store.
 
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Myriad is pure bliss, and almost single-handedly responsible for my addiction to board games. And I've only been to the Salem store.
 
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Another thumbs up for Myriad. They put the F in FLGS. I buy most of my Euros there; also got my WotR CE from them, since it was the same price as FFG but I didn't have to pay shipping.

The Compleat Strategist is pretty sad now. Their old location was in a great place, but I am sure when their last lease went up the rent skyrocketed out of reach. The current location is one of the most depressing environments I have ever seen for a game store. Considering the space, they make the best they can out of it. But I wonder how long they'll be around at this rate.
 
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Marty S wrote:
Another thumbs up for Myriad. They put the F in FLGS. I buy most of my Euros there; also got my WotR CE from them, since it was the same price as FFG but I didn't have to pay shipping.

The Compleat Strategist is pretty sad now. Their old location was in a great place, but I am sure when their last lease went up the rent skyrocketed out of reach. The current location is one of the most depressing environments I have ever seen for a game store. Considering the space, they make the best they can out of it. But I wonder how long they'll be around at this rate.


I wish Myriad would open up a location around Boston and put Compleat Strategist, Pandemonium, and Games People Play out of their misery.
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Michael Debije
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mrteacherusa wrote:
I will be heading to Boston, MA this weekend. Since it is my first trip to this city, I am going to try to make the most of it and visit the local game stores.

I have uncovered five game stores, and I was wondering what folks think are the best ones since I have a limited amount of time to visit. Additionally, if there are any that I should know about that I haven't listed, I would also be interested in those.

1. Eureka Puzzles
2. Pandemonium Books & Games
3. JP Comics and Games
4. Compleat Strategist
5. The Games People Play

Thank you for all your help!


I visited Pandemonium, GPP, and CS in June,

Pandemonium was nice and quiet, nice bookstore upstairs, interesting stuff downstairs. Small game collection, eclectic. I liked the proprietors.

Compleat Strategist had a great, expensive selection. The guy working there, and this has happened all 3 times I've visited, was uncommunicative and generally uninformed. I asked if he had C3i magazine, for example. he dragged himself from his computer, looked at me blearily, and mumbled yeah, he thought so, look in the magazines. Translation: no idea, not interested, go check yourself. They couldn't answer any questions about the games I wanted info on. Great to browse, but not great to shop.

Gmaes People Play... Very bad experience both times visited, one year apart. First time, wanted to look at the mags and was requested to pull the box out so he could watch me look through them. He grumbled about the time I was taking. I wanted to look inside the baggie for an expansion for a Great Battles of history game, because it was not clear if it was playable with my first deition game. After hemming and hawing and a stern warning, he let me look. I did not feel welcome.

Flash forward a year. This time, an older woman. They have a back shelf with rarer games, some at 1/2 price, and then another little niche with wargames, and other older stuff that is used and for sale. There is a filing cabinet beside the stacks that looked like it contained magazines. The bottom drawer was open, so I kneeled down to take a look. "Excuse me, sir" came a very harsh, rather nasty voice, "but there is nothing for you in there." Ok, beg pardon. I closed the drawer, and saw an old Snits Revenge to look at. When I put it down, I saw a plastic bag filled with like 5 copies of 3M Facts in Five. I've been wanting this game, so I reached in to get one out. "I don't know why you are looking in there, sir." Um...because it has used games in a used game section of a game store? I told her, "Well, there are copies of FiF, a game I've been looking for." "Well, those are not for you." Oh, really? Anyway, very unpleasant, and most disappointing. I decided not to buy anything, although was interested in Manoeuver and one of the GBoH games. I cannot recommend thwe except to browse, and even that is hazardous.
 
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The old hag that you encountered at GPP is Carol, the shop's owner. Her infamous customer "service" skills are well known by Boston gamers. Her approach to dealing with customers is the same as an antique store owner would use upon entrance of an unaccompanied 7 year old child who had just drank a can of Red Bull. You can look, don't touch.

When I lived in Boston many years ago the Strat was run by a quiet but helpful guy. I suspect that the new location has paired a down and dirty rental strategy with a similar employment plan as well. I confess if I had to work in that store I'd be pretty unmotivated too. I think the cells at the old Charles St. Jail had more outside light and space than their new location.
 
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mi_de wrote:
I liked the proprietors.


Seriously? How? Did they actually stop playing Magic on the front counter and act like they worked there? Did they actually say hello for once or even, heaven forbid, ask if you needed help?
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Michael Debije
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Yeah, they did. Maybe it was because it was early in the day... maybe later, when the schoolkids come with their CCGs they get less communicative... but for me (around noon) it was rather pleasant.
 
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