FLGS Friday – or – the disappearing #boardgame #wargame shop versus tabletop food & drink

I was driving today and passed by one of the local FLGS in my area. Well, not really an FLGS (like I talked about before) but one of the game shops nearby.

It was closed.

This is now the third game shop in my area to close within the past year. Honestly, this one I’m not going to miss because they failed to earn the “F” in FLGS, but it still makes me pause. The stated reasons were the end of their lease, an unwillingness to renew in their present location, and an apparent lack of desire to find another location. Several time they mentioned, “the game industry is changing.” This got me thinking.

As much as I want an FLGS, financially it just does not make sense for me to purchase from them. I have to budget my dollars and being able to buy a game through Amazon or one of the major on-line retailers is less expensive. I also often buy direct from publishers with some form of pre-order or pledge or to take advantage of sales. Then there is the 800-pound gorilla in the industry – Kickstarter. I still have mixed feelings about getting games through Kickstarter but I find myself doing it more than I thought I would.

Many game shops these days need large gaming spaces because apparently players demand that they be able to play at the store. I guess this works (sorta) if one is big into Magic: The Gathering or organized Fantasy Fight Games play of X-Wing or the like. These big tournaments are turnstile dollars – needed to support the rent becasue game sales certainly won’t! But if you are a casual gamer, like myself, this often hyper-competitive play can be off-putting.

I have noticed the rise of more boardgame cafes in my area. The ability to mix food and drink with gaming is appealing. Maybe it is something we can try. I am stil concerned about the dollar value – and I can be picky about my food (good food is important).

“The game industry is changing.” I don’t know where it is going, but around me it’s less stores, more cafes. What about your area?


Feature image – Tabletop Tavern, Manassas VA

7 comments

  1. My home town has a GW shop, a general model shop and a Gaming store (3 floors but the shop is onlyon one level the rest is table space). The gaming store is really well run, lots of events and discounts where possible, often it is just as cheap buying from there once shipping is considered.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

  2. I think the rise of cheaper online sources has led to the demise of type of store that only sells games and miniatures. I think if you want to have a successful store now, you have to offer more than just a place to buy games.
    In my area there are a lot of game stores with cafes and playing areas. Most of them also have game libraries, where you can borrow games for in-store play. While I only get to them once every month or two, there always seems to be a good number of people at my local store on the weekends (I’m not sure about the rest of the week). It seems like people want a social area they can play games with friends and eat/drink without having to clean up afterward. I see parents coming in with their kids (my local store even has options for birthday parties). Things may change, but I see this as a good evolution of the FLGS.

  3. I recorded a podcast last month with a store owner. He talks frankly about the economics. Interesting stuff. So many different constituents. So many that won’t make a sacrifice for a walk in store and game center. Thats ok – but that group should not be surprised if the store closes. More to follow.

    • Totally agree.
      I remember a day (long ago) when going to the game store was like a pilgrimage. Walking in & finding that new game you didn’t know was coming. Or if you had a favorite series constantly pestering the shop owner by phone to see if it arrived then dashing in to buy the moment you hear it’s in the store.
      Then came the Great Magic Extinction Event and game stores as we knew it died left and right. Which makes me wonder if there are any parallels between TGMEE and the rise of Kickstarter or online retail.
      Thanks for stopping by, Harold. Now you’ve got me thinking. Looking forward to listening to another great Harold on Games podcast on this topic.

  4. I would like more cafés for the reasons that you provided (and for trying out games without having to buy them). On vacation, I have been stopping by at board game cafés in the last years, but I’m not aware of anything close to me.
    Still think that brick-and-mortar stores have value – they show games to people who would not look for those kinds of games (or any at all) by themselves.

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