These days, brick and mortar is a tricky business. A store doesn’t just have to compete with the guy down the street, but also with a sea of online retailers who have less overhead and can cut their costs. We have already seen the effects of this on the book trade with Borders closing its doors and Barnes and Noble hurting, but what about the game trade? Is this a good thing, giving players access to our games with a click of a mouse at a reduced cost? Is brick and mortar going the way of the dinosaur?
These are complicated questions, but I would argue that the friendly local game store is essential to the gaming industry and is here to stay. And this is particularly true for miniature games. Games have something to offer that books never will: community. While the individual games can be sold in bulk and discounted by online retailers, online retailers will never provide you and your friends with a table filled with terrain. They will not provide a place for you to find new opponents. They will not stay open late for your tournament. (Now, this isn’t to say there is anything wrong with online retailers. They provide an important service to the industry which I may point out in another post someday, but this post is about brick and mortar, and online retailers will not REPLACE brick and mortar.)
By definition, games require other people (well, my definition), so a place for people to gather and play them is essential. The game store isn’t just the middle man who hands you our products, it’s also the center of the gaming community.
In no other gaming genre is this more important than in miniature games (it has even been argued that a misunderstanding of this concept could shed some light on Games Workshop, but that’s another story). Miniature games are competitive, requiring a steady stream of new opponents to remain interesting. Unlike, for example, roleplaying games which can be played with the same group every week into eternity. This makes the space that game stores provide all the more essential. Additionally players need a decent amount of terrain which they may not otherwise be able to store at home or transport easily. Finally, a large appeal of miniature games is the aesthetic, making a gaming table in the middle of a store the perfect way to sell to new players. For all of these reasons, game stores are absolutely essential to the miniatures trade and to Wyrd.
So, to all the game stores out there, we know and appreciate the important job you do, thank you. And to all the players out there, always remember that the best way to thank your game store is to shop there.