Thursday, August 19, 2010

Repost Editorial: How Gamers are Killing their Hobby Stores

Hey everyone, so this a repost of an editorial I wrote towards the beginning of the blog, but I figured it was such a big point that I’d repost it now with the blog a little bigger and more popular than back then.

So no picture updates today, but I wanted to talk about a subject that I have argued with friends at my local hobby shop. It seems like everywhere I look, local hobby shops, FLGS, and CLGS all over the country are closing. Some of these stores do nothing for their patrons, and some do a lot, such as providing their patrons with a place to meet, play, etc.

During my first year of college, the closest hobby store to campus was a 30 min drive into Aztec, New Mexico. The shop, Pass-Go Games, was in pretty bad shape financially when I started to go, but they had a 40k community of over 20 people, so I started to go down every Saturday.

However, I started to notice that stock on the shelves were never replenished, and that the shop wasn't doing as well as everyone had hoped. I also noticed that despite having a place to play and meet, the other guys weren't doing anything to help keep the shop open. Everytime I went down, I'd pick up some paints, brushes, occasionally a model or two, something to justify me using the shop for games and a place to hang out for the day.

Talking recently to a friend from the shop, I learned they were opening a shop in nearby Farmington, NM. I also learned that in order to use the gaming tables, it costs a dollar or two, depending on how busy the shop is that day.

Is this the route hobby shops are having to take? In the case of the shop in Aztec, the owner just never had the ability to replenish his stock, and that hurt him saleswise, but could the weekly players had helped keep him alive by spending, say, $10 a week at the shop? Was it worth even trying to keep him alive? The shop in Farmington might have the answer in the short-term, but requiring a fee to play on their tables will keep players away.

Are players killing their Hobby Stores? I believe so. Its worth their time to drop the owner some cash every time they play to help keep the store running. Its not worth their time to stay open for 8+ hours if they have 10+ people in the store, and yet make no money.


  1. I have owned comic/game stores and gamers really are tough customers. They demand/need lots of profit negative floor space. There is a tendencey to build on the cheap ie: ebay/ buy used models/ shop online stores for their "major" purchases. Then those same gamers will crow on and on about how much they love and support the store. Gaming is a hobby. Hobbies are usually expensive. Don't be a cheap@$$, support your local game store!

  2. See the key thing with the store I was going to was that they didn't restock the shelves at all (something about $4000 in backorders), and as the only real painter there, I just ended up buying paints and the occasional brush.

  3. It is an old sad story....I can't restock because I don't have any money, I can't make any money because I'm out of stock. Typically, most stores open as an extension of the owner's hobby and are usually underfunded.

  4. True, most of these people need to realize that, be it a hobby store or not, that its a business first, and that your life now revolves around the fact that your little toy soldiers now pay for your life...sounds extreme, but its true.

  5. To play Devil's Advocate: gamers make the same kind of decisions the store does. Is it worth the extra money I will pay here vs. buying on Ebay/Amazon for what I receive? Everyone wants to get the most for the least, and brick and mortar stores are going to have to face up to the fact that there are cheap alternatives to them available online. Relying on charity to keep your doors open is a bad plan.

    Of course, lots of gamers are also jerks who don't give a damn what consequences their actions have. Buying online is cheaper, so do that. Why would I want to spend more money for the same thing? Charges for table space are not unreasonable if the tables are in decent condition, especially since most places I've seen are in the $1 to $5 range. Compared to what we spend on our space dollies, that's nothing.

    And, to go back to playing the evil side for a second, a lot of hobby store owners are not very good businessmen. Small businesses go out of sale _constantly_ and as often as not it's the owner's fault. If a store is badly run and unpleasant, maybe you shouldn't support them.

  6. You make some good points there AbusePuppy. Gamers are definitely very fickle people when it comes to their money and their hobby. Honestly, I'm totally for saving as much money as possible in the hobby, and as a result, I do buy a lot of my stuff online. But its because the local shops don't support the hobbist. My other local shop (If I can even call it a shop anymore) doesn't care about the hobbist. In fact, the guy is a very good businessman, but the fact he's decided he doesn't care about the shop, its totally gone downhill, and as a result, I'm not supporting him anymore.

  7. "Everyone wants to get the most for the least, and brick and mortar stores are going to have to face up to the fact that there are cheap alternatives to them available online. Relying on charity to keep your doors open is a bad plan."

    Well Mr. Devil, cheap online alternatives don't have as much over head and don't "repay" the community with game space. Is it charity to expect a little loyality?

    You are correct most gamers make poor businessmen. Most end up getting disillusioned with the hobby and bitter at the community.

  8. Oh BTW, I thought it funny that our blogs had a related subject matter at almost the same time.

  9. I did in fact notice that, its a shame Battle Forge Games closed, my friend and I stopped in there and bought some stuff when we were down for BoLScon. I'll link your post to this one.
    I have noticed with the increase of the online stores, the increase of private hobby clubs dedicating a room or a garage to gaming. Whether or not that's a good or bad thing has yet to be seen.