Should we support our local game stores? Is buying online 'wrong'?
Friday, 6 October 2017 | Russ
There's been a bit of a storm in online gaming communities this week - Tom Vasel (of The Dice Tower) voiced some opinions about local game stores on his weekly Board Game Breakfast Show - and as far as I can tell many people have over-reacted and gone straight for the pitchforks without really hearing what he was saying...
There is a common philosophy in gaming that you shouldn't buy online and you should support your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) and Tom Vasel questioned this. There are many bad stores out there and he basically said that those bad stores don't deserve your support - they should earn it. And I agree...
Now, even though I run an online retail store, personally I do still support my local game stores - I am still a gamer and I attend their board-game days and when I'm there I will purchase something (they do great hotdogs and burgers and beer! as well as games!) - I do support them. However, I only do that because I feel they deserve my support - I use their facilities and have a good time there meeting new friends and playing games so it seems only fair that I give a little back and support them from my wallet.
For many though, they don't have a decent game store - a nice well-lit, clean, smell-free space - friendly, approachable staff - a safe environment without foul language and hostility - a reasonable selection of products that (while understandably higher than online) are not massively over-priced.
I think that perhaps Tom could have phrased his piece a little better - and presented it with less negative emotion... I believe his point is valid, but it might have been better to try to be more encouraging to the 'bad' stores, suggestions on how to improve....and also encourage people with a 'bad' local game store to go and talk to their local store owner and explain what they need for them to be able to support it. If he'd been more positive with his piece I believe the point he wanted to get across might not have been misunderstood as much as it has been.
The philosophy that we should support our friendly local game store also implies (and sometimes says outright) that we shouldn't shop online as online retailers are just box-shifters who price low and shift boxes and don't care about the gaming community and don't add any value - I take issue with this...
I was a gamer before I was a retailer, I am active in many online Forums and Gaming Facebook groups, we also run our own hobby YouTube channel and I am available every waking hour for advice or a chat...with any gamers, not just customers. For products that I don't have in stock, I have no problem in directing customers to other stores so that they can get what they want. I am also working on getting a local game group setup to further spread the word about our amazing hobby....oh, and occasionally customers request sketches with their orders which Kelly enjoys to do!
There are some online stores that are just box-shifters, and obviously there are limits to how much an online store can do, but we are not a faceless corporation, we are small guys, we are a family business, we are gamers, we care and we look after our customers and contribute to the community as much as we are able.
I think there is room for both online and local stores - I believe both have something to offer... Either way, whichever type of store you choose to shop from - do what is right for you and enjoy gaming and our hobby :)