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Subject: "The big game stores" in Portland, OR? rss

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Dave K
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I'm going to be in Portland for a few days for a software developer's conference shortly and I might have access to a vehicle with which to make some side trips. If can I only go to one or two stores, what would you recommend? Places that are likely to have imports, rare games, or out-of-print titles would be awesome, but if there's nothing like that, then just "the big stores" would be totally fine.

If it matters ill be nearish to the convention center.

Thanks for any info! This is my first trip to Portland and I'm really excited, it sounds like a really fun city! (If you're curious, I'm traveling from Austin for RailsConf.)
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Nick ChemE
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Happymrdave wrote:
I'm going to be in Portland for a few days for a software developer's conference shortly and I might have access to a vehicle with which to make some side trips. If can I only go to one or two stores, what would you recommend? Places that are likely to have imports, rare games, or out-of-print titles would be awesome, but if there's nothing like that, then just "the big stores" would be totally fine.

If it matters ill be nearish to the convention center.

Thanks for any info! This is my first trip to Portland and I'm really excited, it sounds like a really fun city! (If you're curious, I'm traveling from Austin for RailsConf.)


Guardian Games is your best bet for easy heart of Portland access and their selection is good. Rainy Day is my overall favorite but would be more of a drive.
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Max Maloney
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If you're near the convention center, your main stop will be Guardian Games which is only a hop, skip and a jump south along the same main road. It's also probably the biggest game store in town (although there are many stores that are very comparable to each other, including GG).

We don't have a great place for imported/rare/oop games in town that I have found. There are a lot of other super good game stores, but they are much farther away and not actually better than Guardian.
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Guardian Games is just a few blocks from the Convention Center. They have gaming every other Sunday as well. Our guild shows several other stores in the Portland area.

Portland, OR, USA
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Dave K
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The response time here on BGG is always impressive. Thanks to all of you for the info - I'll be sure to check out Guardian Games and I'll see if I can make it to another one as well if time allows.

In Austin we have several game stores but none that have an especially good selection of import stuff either. I figured it was worth asking just in case though.

Thanks again everyone!
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I'll pile on and say that while I was visiting Portland (and staying downtown), the only game store I managed to get to was Guardian. I was very impressed with the crowd they draw on Sundays for open gaming, and I was impressed with the selection of games they have for sale (although I don't remember them having particularly low prices).

You can walk there from the convention center, or take a short streetcar ride and walk a few blocks. Or drive if you wish.

The Lucky Lab meetup is also very doable by streetcar, with a few block walk. That was also a very impressive gathering the one night I went.

Have a great time in the city and at the conference!
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Max Maloney
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peakhope wrote:
The Lucky Lab meetup is also very doable by streetcar, with a few block walk. That was also a very impressive gathering the one night I went.

That would be Thursdays.
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You'll no doubt enjoy the fact that we have no sales tax. We Oregonians aren't smart enough to have visitors help pay the bills when they come here, as we do when we go elsewhere.
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Max Maloney
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That's those of us in Portland trying to entrap the Washingtonians across the border into spending their entertainment dollars!
 
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There's also Cloudcap games over in SE Portland. Not as easily accessible but a neat little game shop.

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Out of all the game stores Guardian is for sure the most accessible if you are downtown although Red Castle, Cloud Cap and Rainy Day all have their place in the gaming universe around Portland. There are quite a few meetups as well at game shops and hosted elsewhere like Lucky Lab. Portland really is a gaming town, more than any other I've lived in. I host a Final Fridays Game Night down in Wilsonville that takes place today in fact.
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No need for a car in Portland, even an easy train from the airport! I suppose it does make it easier if you aren't public transport familiar.

Guardian is easily walk-able from the Convention Center (between 1/2 and 1 mile each way with street car that pretty much would cut that to a few blocks). Like everyone else says, it is the king in town with biggest audience and lots of gaming space. Even beer and pizza (or just beer and sometimes pizza?) Prices are higher than elsewhere, but no sales tax. Not more of a selection than a usual big indie game store as far as imports, etc. Also, it's in a semi-industrial area that is very central east side, but a little hidden. It took me a little to find it the first time. Trust the listed address.

I am pretty surprised that one of the stores in town doesn't specialize in imports and hard to find stuff! I'd be willing to put money on the assumption that we have more game stores and gamers per capita than any other city in the USA so it would make sense for one to fill that place!

You really should lurk the meetup.com (etc) pages for board game gatherings while you are here. There are a ton in town, and really fantastic people to play with.

Have an amazing time. Portland is pretty amazing - especially this time of year. Get out and wander... and eat... and drink... and play!
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Max Maloney
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In my experience, all local stores charge flat msrp. Guardian does round up to whole dollars, so you might pay 1-5 extra cents, but it's not effectively more expensive than anywhere else. They also do 20% off all boardgames every other Sunday if you play any games during the meetup day gaming. That is this coming Sunday and then every other one following.
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raquitoppi wrote:
I am pretty surprised that one of the stores in town doesn't specialize in imports and hard to find stuff! I'd be willing to put money on the assumption that we have more game stores and gamers per capita than any other city in the USA so it would make sense for one to fill that place!


Generally, I've found the things I'm looking for at Bridgetown Hobbies more often than Guardian Games (it's sort of in the same general area of the city, too - Guardian Games is 3/4 of a mile south of the convention center, while Bridgetown Hobbies is 2 miles pretty much straight east. Both easily accessible on public transportation, of course.)

But, then, I generally play hex-and-counter wargames, and not as much Euros. Guardian definitely caters more to the WH40K and Magic crowd than Bridgetown does (although Bridgetown obviously carries that stuff), and while I don't think I recall seeing anything from GMT Games at Guardian (outside of whatever the current hit is - I picked up 'Twilight Struggle' from there, for example), Bridgetown Hobbies usually has a pretty big selection of GMT, Clash of Arms, and Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. games (I'm 100% sure Guardian has no CofA or ADB games). Both stores do have a fairly large selection of whatever else is popular - I'd generalize and say that Bridgetown does focus more on FFG games (and the like) than Euro games, while Guardian has a flat-out HUGE selection of both. So, definitely if you are into WH40K, Magic, or Euros, Guardian is a better choice. If you are into "Ameritrash" (hate that term) games, either are a good choice. If you are looking for hex-and-counter wargames, Bridgetown wins easily.

So it depends on what you are looking for!
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Max Maloney
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Bridgetown is really the original game store of Portland. The only drawback to it now is that the owners and managers are older and they don't have interest in fostering a gaming scene. It's a quiet place to peruse shelves. It does not have areas of tables with people playing games.
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I will give another shout out to Cloud Cap Games. It isn't that far from downtown and is located in a small suburb named Sellwood. The address is:

1226 SE Lexington St Portland, OR 97202

It has more of a home feeling and is really a fun place to hang out (i.e. not a dungeon). They have a good selection from stuff that has been around for years (cult of the old) to "the new hotness." There is a game night every Wednesday and Saturday night that starts around 6 p.m. and goes until the last game is done. The owners and staff are great and want to help you find the game that is perfect for you, not make a sale. There is also a rental shelf to check out games if you want to try before you buy and they will apply the rental fee toward a purchase if you want to buy it.

Now the thing I will let you know is that it is a board game shop. If you are looking for miniatures, then you may want to look elsewhere. But if you decide to come by; stick around, make some new friends, and just enjoy yourself.
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raquitoppi wrote:
No need for a car in Portland, even an easy train from the airport! I suppose it does make it easier if you aren't public transport familiar.


There may not be a need for one in the city but there are plenty of places that public transit won't cut it or where having a car would be much faster and easier. Living in Wilsonville it'd be impossible to get anywhere on the weekend without one.

This is the perfect place for gamers though IMO.
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Max Maloney
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Cloud Cap is awesome. Possibly my favorite game store in Portland. But I disagree it's convenient to get there. I live near the convention center and own a car and I almost never go there because it is a lot farther away. Also, what makes it best is the owner and the environment he fosters for playing games. If you're stopping in from put of town, there's less selection to peruse.
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Dormammu wrote:
Bridgetown is really the original game store of Portland. The only drawback to it now is that the owners and managers are older and they don't have interest in fostering a gaming scene. It's a quiet place to peruse shelves. It does not have areas of tables with people playing games.


It does have 3 or 4 tables in the main room with gaming, usually with a couple of them featuring new releases and a couple of them set up for miniature gaming - but there is definitely fewer people playing there, certainly. (Generally on nights and weekends when I've been by, there would be maybe 3 or 4 people playing something there)

Certainly, Guardian has always been a much busier venue for gaming at.
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Rachael C
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robbdaman wrote:
raquitoppi wrote:
No need for a car in Portland, even an easy train from the airport! I suppose it does make it easier if you aren't public transport familiar.


There may not be a need for one in the city but there are plenty of places that public transit won't cut it or where having a car would be much faster and easier. Living in Wilsonville it'd be impossible to get anywhere on the weekend without one.

This is the perfect place for gamers though IMO.


Yeah, OP mentioned being at the Convention Center, so my car-less note was specifically based on that. I live close in and don't need a car at alllll. But, I still use mine on occasion!

- Also, my note about prices at Guardian was solely based on one game, so I agree that I shouldn't be generalizing, it could have been an error on that one sticker.... it just was sticker shock.

- And, Red Castle is also a great store to keep on the list. A little ways down Foster, but those guys are soooooo nice! I also love that they have the rooms for rent for playing too as well as huge playing space. I think it is just a super friendly environment, but they do seem to cater more towards Magic, & RPGs, etc? Not as large a Euro selection. Right?

I'm in Los Angeles right now, and can not believe there is like one store out in Pasadena and that's it for 10 million people!!! Seriously, such a sad scene. We are so lucky to have a handful of really great options! Even Powell's is stepping up their game section!

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Speaking of Red Castle - we should all be voting for them so they can win this: https://www.loveourlocalbusiness.com/base/lolb2desktop?regio...
 
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Hi all,


I did make it out to Guardian Games and to Bridgetown Hobbies. Both were really nice and thanks everyone for the suggestions. I'd love to see the others if I have time but the conference is keeping me quite occupied so I'm not sure if I'll make it or not.

Again, thanks!
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Happymrdave wrote:
Hi all,


I did make it out to Guardian Games and to Bridgetown Hobbies. Both were really nice and thanks everyone for the suggestions. I'd love to see the others if I have time but the conference is keeping me quite occupied so I'm not sure if I'll make it or not.

Again, thanks!


Cool! Be sure to post back your thoughts on them and others, if you get a chance to hit up any more (those two are definitely the closest to your position, though!)

And it'd be a shame if you didn't get a chance to try out some of the food options in the town! Unfortunately, you are in a bit of a...well, not as nice an area of the city, but Portland is a VERY big 'foodie' town. Tons and tons of really great vegan and vegetarian options, above-average seafood (can't really speak to other meats, although we've certainly got some restaurants with a good national reputation, and several chefs that have competed on Iron Chef and the like), etc. Also, most breweries per capita in the nation!

Many of the more easily-accessible better options are right across the river from you, in the Pearl District (basically NW Portland between Old Town/China Town and the highway). Certainly some good choices on the East side, too, but not...quite convenient to get to. OTOH, I live in town on the West side, so maybe some of these spots seem harder to get to than they really are...

OH! And Powell's City of Books! You'd be totally missing out on a huge part of your Portland experience if you don't get there. At least, if you like books! It's MASSIVE!!
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XanderF wrote:
Unfortunately, you are in a bit of a...well, not as nice an area of the city

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yeah, if you do nothing else, make it over to Powell's.
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