Monday, March 11, 2013

Extolling the Virtues of the Local Store

Since I started buying games, I've done most of my buying online.  It's cheaper, they have most of the things I want to get in stock, and many offer customer loyalty programs.  What online can't offer is personalized recommendations and instant gratification.  At this point you're going, yeah, yeah, I get it, difference between cheaper cost but waiting and buy it now, make your point already.  So here's my point in a single sentence - In the world of boardgames, personal recommendations, and having a store go out of its way to provide you with an enjoyable gaming experience, is worth far more than the price difference between that store and online pricing.

I'm not trying to tell you that you're a bad person if you order online.  If I did, I'd be a very big hypocrite.  Sometimes the local store isn't all that great for any number of reasons. I won't get into that, that's a post of its own.  When the local store is great, then they're worth investing in.  If the local gamers don't support the store, the store goes away.  That's the facts of business and the free market.  Now, I'm fortunate to have two stores I consider to be my local game stores.  One is in town, about 10 minutes away, and the other is a few towns away, about 30-40 minutes away.  The one in town caters mostly to Magic players, comic book enthusiasts and the like.  They have a selection of around 30 boardgames, and they're willing to order most anything for you.  Well, having something ordered for me kinda defeats the purpose of shopping at the store, but I appreciate the service that exists.  The store that's a bit away is truly a game store.

Gateplay is my "local" store of choice.  While they aren't open 7 days a week, they do a lot of events, in fact they hosted the tournament of games I discussed in this post, and an X-Wing gathering/tournament to celebrate the Wave 2 release.  They have a library of around 60 games which are open to anyone to pull off the shelf and play.  The store also stocks over 100 games, and is willing to special order anything as well.  The owner is very personable, and willing to help you find something that you'll enjoy playing.  He seems to be someone who loves games who happens to run a game store, rather than a business owner who happens to be in the boardgame world.  One of Gateplay's missions is to find the best boardgames that will appeal to a wide variety of people, including the serious gamer and the casual gamer.  You may find their website to be limited, but what you will find are games that should appeal to a wide audience.

I play boardgames for fun and for the people.  It makes me feel good to support a small business that cares about similar things when it comes to games.  I'm in no way affiliated with Gateplay beyond being a customer and an occasional Tournament Organizer at the store.  I feel that good things deserved to be brought to the attention of others.

We all have a plethora of stores at which we can spend our gaming dollars.  Sometimes price or availability is the motivating factor in a purchase, other times it's convenience or a desire to have the game today.  I think there's room for local game stores and warehouse sites.  I don't think either one will drive the other out of business.    As someone who owns too many games, I will say that I would rather have 20 great games that I can play repeatedly than 50 games that I play a few times and get bored.  If I have to pay $5-$10 more on a game, but it's a great game, I consider that worthwhile.  Afterall, it's far more expensive to buy 2 games than 1.

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