June 4, 2016 at 11:24 am #12448
Hello fellow members of the EOG, I’m back from my holiday, and I had to share with you an annoying, and yet thought-provoking, game-related experience I had in Dunedin. I was walking down the main road and saw a ‘Warhammer’ store, so decided to drop in and have a look (we don’t have one in Nelson); mostly to check out the new Silver Tower boardgame.
Firstly, I was struck by how the new game was sitting on a table in scattered bits: a few figures assembled and unpainted, the rest all lying about in a mess. No presentation or display. Then I met the manager/owner of the store and began talking about it.
There’s a lot of discussion these days about gaming stores. Companies like Asmodee go on and on about supporting them in an attempt to justify their pricing policies and stop online discounting. GW goes on and on about how they’re essential to create communities of gamers, and yet are converting them into ‘one-man’ tiny stores in an attempt to stop them haemorraging money.
What always makes me laugh is that these stores, GW and non-GW alike, are almost always without exception utterly unpleasant places to buy your games. In my many years of gaming I have encountered all the usual annoyances: smelly adolescents who haven’t discovered deodorant yet; an old guy behind the counter sneaking cigarettes in a basement shop; poor stock levels and high prices; hovering staff who don’t let you browse comfortably. But the worst and most frequent problem is staff and customers with poor social skills. The staff member who hardly lets you get a word in, while they go on and on about their boring gaming experiences or passionate long-held opinion, is a particular annoyance.
In the Dunedin store, the owner quickly engaged me in conversation (I was the only customer in the shop), and asked me about my gaming habits. When I said I had a small gaming group with whom I played regularly, I started getting scolded for not forming a local community. Seriously, to the point where I was finding it difficult to continue being polite. According to this guy I should have started a Facebook group and inducted young local sprogs into the joys of gaming. When I explained that I was 50, had no children by choice, and had no interest whatsoever in involving children in my hobby, he seemed to think this was an attitude responsible for the slow death of tabletop gaming in general. He only pulled back from this tirade when I explained that I ran a site with more than 250 rules summaries (and the rest) on it, and that was my way of ‘giving back to the community’.
I’m sure this guy is just very enthusiastic about getting new players into Warhammmer (especially when he manages a store and is trying to convince people to lay down NZ$315 for Silver Tower, which is, by any comparison to any other game on the market, outrageous), but the way he went about trying to engage a similar enthusiasm from me was completely wrong.
Finally my partner entered the shop and helped me extricate myself. The store manager also tried the hard sell on the Silver Tower game of course; I didn’t get the opportunity to inform him that if I wanted to, I’d buy it on Mighty Ape (an online store) for $45 less than the price he was selling it for, and that I didn’t consider spending $115 for 4 extra heroes good value (I mean, what the FRAK? $115 for 4 plastic figures?? That is absolute insanity).
I got out of the place and swore I would never bother crossing the threshold of a Warhammer store again. It took me about ten minutes to relax into my holiday again, I was so annoyed by the experience.
I very much prefer to buy my games online (even if there was a store with decent stock in Nelson, which there isn’t). I want to buy them from trusted online discounters because the RRP prices are almost always far too high. I don’t want to deal with stuff like being berated because I don’t enjoy games the way the staff thinks I should enjoy them. It’s obvious that brick-and-mortar tabletop game stores are going the way of the dodo, and frankly I won’t miss them at all.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this little rant! 🙂 More rules summaries coming very soon. And how do you feel about gaming retail stores and the so-called ‘FLGS’?June 11, 2016 at 6:03 am #12485
I’ve had similar experiences. Games Workshop a few miles for me. I occasionally (over a year since last visit) go in there for a pot of paint, but the staff tend to be disinterested in customers and more interested in playing a game with their friends.
Another local store went a few years back. I managed to chat with them after a few visits, but they treated ‘strangers’ the same way. It’s like going into a remote country pub that only welcomes locals.
Two shops remain near me. A Forbidden Planet outlet where I used to buy comics. They are friendly by comparison, but I have been shopping there for over 30 years, games, books, comics.
The last is a board game shop. Although he will talk, he’s mostly an online retailer, so the shop as much a warehouse as retail outlet.
Perhaps people perceive the ‘gamers’ as socially awkward based on their experiences in games shops.August 12, 2016 at 1:11 pm #12938
We had a few others in Dunedin that I’ve bought from in the past that either hardly ever had interesting stock, took months to get in anything you ordered, or were unwilling to negotiate on price. When these all closed down one year I had access to wholesale prices for a while and spent thousands on boardgames for my group that year (I host public open games at my place for friends and friends to be – like you I don’t have kids :-)).
After losing that access following a few local stores taking on the boardgame niche again I mostly ordered occasional games from MightyApe sales and this year from overseas retailers (after giving in to arguments from people on BGG that these were cheaper than local and actually have stock on hand).
I have tried to buy local with one business owner that has offered reasonable prices to those in my group, but even there my emails chasing up a game I was interested in never got an answer so I bought from an international retailer. Just can’t win.
The only thing that keeps local game stores above water seems to be collectibles like Magic the Gathering and the associated players addiction.
Everything else disappears within a fairly short space of time (usually the length of their initial lease).
I’d be willing to bet money this store won’t last long on main street rents.
MarkAugust 13, 2016 at 2:29 am #12943
I live in central Scotland, UK.
We have 3 Warhammer stores within about 30 miles of each other. Stirling, Falkirk and Glasgow. (There is another in Perth and one in Dundee.) 5 in Scotland alone so I can’t complain. I have to say that of the three I visit the staff are always great. Chatty but not preachy. I mostly only buy pots of ludicrously expensive paint (£2.55) and the very occasional model to paint. I like the stores although quite small. There are always games in progress and keen painters hunched over their current projects.
They are always friendly places with a bit of a buzz. When I buy a paint the owners ask what I’m painting. I feel they are interested and are obviously sniffing for an up selling opportunity. When I tell them its for Imperial Assault or Blood Rage etc they usually just chat and chew the fat with me for a while as they know i’m not going to part with £120 (215nzd) for a mediocre GW board game.
I guess its just your luck with how is running your local store. I feel these places should be building a community but they are just too small.August 13, 2016 at 9:56 am #12944
I’m glad to hear that good experiences can be had, and I agree that hole in the wall places with one staff member can hardly build much of a community, which according to GW is the whole point of the things.
The store we had in Sydney was fine and the staff were friendly, though there was always really bad death metal playing, and they did give the impression of following a bit of a script.
Anyway, my entire involvement with GW these days is to very occasionally buy one of the new boxed games, and generally gripe about the ridiculously high prices of everything they produce (that £120 game is actually NZD$375 here). I’m not the target market!
Welcome to the EOG by the way!
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