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Subject: Ode to a store that's gone rss

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Barak Engel
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Well, OK, maybe not an Ode... sorry guys, I'm none too good at poetry. But I did want to share my personal angle of a story of an FLGS whose last day was today.

I moved to Vallejo, where I live today, in late 2002. Vallejo is situated about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco, a bridge away from the "east bay", and to the best of my knowledge at the time, 30 miles away (in bay area traffic, that counts like 60 "normal" miles, especially considering the need to cross a bridge ) from the nearest decent game store (Endgame in Oakland or Games Unlimited in Walnut Creek). It's also not exactly a "hub" of gamers, at least not that I have found thus far.

Not too terrible, but still, I always longed for something really close by. Then, late 2004, I was idly browsing, and put in "game stores" in Google Local. Contrary to my expectation, one did come up. Ian's Games - in Vallejo!

I was shocked. A game store? Right here? I googled some more and found a few reviews, and it seemed to be the right type of store, too; RPG's, boardgames, the lot. How could this be? How could I have missed it for so long?

I called the phone number. The recording let me know that the store was only open on Saturdays, between 10AM and 5PM. That was odd, I thought to myself, but the next Saturday, I went down to Georgia St. Plaza in Vallejo, where the store was located.

When I got down there, I couldn't believe my eyes; it was a nice store, with quite a bit of inventory, with decent floorspace. I was in heaven. Then I started chatting with the guy who owned it, whose name was, unsurprisingly, Ian. It was then that I found out that he was closing down his store within a couple of months.

Talk about dismay; a store right here in my town, and it was closing its doors! I started visiting regularly, picking up as much of his still available inventory as I could afford, as well as chatting with him more. I found out that this was more of a hobby to him than anything (which explains the opening hours), and that he'd been doing it for over 15 years, but that the market had just literally disappeared, mainly due to online stores. I found Ian to be very knowledgeable about games, a gamer's gamer, and just a really nice person to boot.

About three weeks later he told me he had managed to secure a smaller space in the same shopping area for a lot less rent, and had decided to leave the store running through 2005. I was overjoyed; I spent 2005 making the trip down to the store at least monthly, sometimes weekly, slowly buying from the ever-dwindling inventory of boardgames and RPG's, but also enjoying the conversations. It's not every day that one gets to talk to at length a shop owner who had been around for so many years, someone who had gone through the surge and decline of the FLGS. It certainly gave me a different and very real perspective of the industry at large.

Anyhow, I just came back from the store where I picked up a bunch of Runebound expansions, almost the last thing he had left. Ever upbeat, Ian was sitting in the now mostly-barren room where the store was, cheerfully arranging and rearranging the few boxes that were left on the folding table that he had set up, whiling away the minutes until he closed his doors for the last time. And I left the store a little happy, happy for him that he is out of this business that had become such a big drag, but also a little sad, sad for another FLGS that, as small as it was in the end, was part of a local community that apparently no longer exists; and also sad for a gamer-shop-owner who for so many years had managed successfully to make his hobby into a business, but eventually had to step away because of market pressures.

It is now 4:59PM. In one minute, Ian's Games will cease to exist. And I just wanted to say, thank you Ian, for all the time in which I got to know you, the fun I had in chatting with you, and for sticking around for so long.

Thank you.

Barak

(Btw, Ian's BGG nick is "iansgames")
 
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Steven Heinrich
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thanks for posting that.

It's a shame.shake
 
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Barak Engel
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Quote:
he one a few blocks from where I live seems to be doing very well, but the owner and staff are so stressed out all the time that I wonder if it is worth it to indulge their passion at such an expense.


Yeah, I know what you're saying. I still think I'll open a store sometime in the future, but it will be after it won't matter to our survival whether it's very successful commercially or not.
 
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Iain K
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People, let's remember this is the North Bay. Most folks in the US, with the exception of those in Manhattan have *no idea* how expensive property is there. Directly to the west of Vallejo is Marin county, *the* most expensive place to live in America.

I lived in Petaluma for a couple years, it is paradise. The only drawback was the cost of renting or owning a place. We had a game shop too, then it got "gentrified", now it's an antique shop for baby boomers with more cash then sense.*

So I'm sorry to hear that another store is gone, but we Ians have a way of landing on our feet, with our fists swinging

PS - I'll always thing of Vallejo as "Valley Ho", and I once bought a chopped down el Camino there - sweet - but those are stories for another thread . . .

* note - i.e. all baby boomers.
 
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Jim Pulles
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...he'd been doing it for over 15 years, but that the market had just literally disappeared, mainly due to online stores.

Isn't it strange that we will spend our money in a different state or province, maybe even another country, to save a couple of bucks when a local store is right around the corner?

Having worked in a game store that went out of business for virtually the same reason, I really feel for the owner. I have never shopped online if our local FLGS can get me a product I want, no matter how much I "think" I can save... it's just not worth it in the long run.
 
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