One of my favorite memories as a youth was going to the local comic book/gaming shops
and hanging out. For a kid it was similar to walking into Cheers, a place where everyone knew your name. Most of us didn’t go to school together nor did we see each other outside of the shop, but that didn’t change the fact we were all friends. Countless Saturdays were spent arguing over which comics were best, playing Dungeons and Dragons or just hanging out, this was before CCGs hit the scene.
The shop owners(s) never thought about chasing us out and often, if a game got particularly intense, we would stay long after the shop closed. The people that owned the shops I frequented were just as much fan boys and geeks as those of us that hung out there. The owners
treated us regulars a lot like extended family.
Now I’m all grown up, few of my friends play D&D anymore and I live in an area where
there is no friendly local game shop. I buy most of my gaming material at the book store in the closest mall (if you consider 40 miles away close), which has a very limited selection, and the comic shop I frequent(45 miles away) doesn’t much in the way of game material except minis and CCGs. I have on occasion found a few items on the internet and of course at conventions, but if I had my choice I would choose to shop at a FLGS over anything else.
Many gamers complain that the prices in local shops are too high compared to the deals
they can find online and I have to concede this is often true. Although if you figure in ship-
ping and handling a some of those cheaper items end up costing more than you would pay in a shop.
While on one hand I appreciate the deals online stores offer it saddens me to hear that shops are
closing all across the country on a daily basis. What upsets me even more are the gamers that pronounce they don’t care, that saving a few bucks, and never having to leave your home is the better way. If this continues future generations of gamers will never know what it’s like to hang out at their local shop. They will miss out on the friendship and social interaction with true peers that can be found at the "shop on the corner".
The local game shop is more than just a store, it is a gaming institution. The stores are generally run by people who love the hobby as much as the rest of us. They have to because they sure
don’t get rich running a hobby shop, and more than a few gamers were introduced to gaming
through these local shops. So why do we choose to eliminate something that is an integral part of a hobby we enjoy? I doubt it is completely intentional, and I know that things like the 90’s comic
boom and subsequent crash played a part in the demise of the local shops, but the opportunity to
save a few dollars on the newest gaming supplement by shopping online seems to be the biggest culprit in this day and age.
I live in a small town that stopped a Wal-mart from opening because of the effect it would
have had on local merchants. The owners of these local shops are our neighbors and friends. Their kids are in the same classes as our kids, and when you walk in they not only know your name, they are genuinely happy to see you. Granted the prices may not be the cheapest, and you may not have the convenience of one stop shopping, but you get good service and a sincere smile, something that can’t be replaced by cheaper toilet paper and dog food.
So is saving a few bucks really worth causing the demise of the brick and mortar shop? Can
those deals really replace the satisfaction of walking into a shop where they know your name? Some place where you are more than just a customer, you’re a friend.