The Importance of the Local Game Store


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.


  1. Kadeton says:

    I think this is an interesting difference between Australia and the US – in Aus we tend to have more dispersed populations and much higher rental costs on retail properties, which means that most places are unable to support more than a few FLGSs servicing huge areas and generally with very little space for gaming.

    As a result, our gaming culture is far more focused on gaming clubs – non-retail organisations funded through membership fees, which provide a venue, an online forum for communication and a ready pool of opponents.

    I’m not saying that local gaming stores aren’t a great thing to have, just that you can have a vibrant local gaming community without them. Whatever the situation, gamers will adapt and find a way to come together for the sake of the game. :)

    • Justin Gibbs says:

      Oh yes, definitely. Online retailers add to the community (and I tried to make that clear) this post was just about brick and mortar. In areas with less population density, online retailers are essential.

  2. Omenbringer says:

    I would tend to agree with most of this however also agree with Kadeton. There are huge variations in FLGS (even in the US), very few of them are conducive to in store play and even less for hosting mid to large size tournaments (10+ participants). I have had the opportunity to visit a very large number of stores all over the US and the world and precious few are capable of hosting anything other than small events (mostly casual with less than 6-8 players).

    The ones that are though are very valuable commodities. These larger venues tend to have full product lines available on site rather than a small sample and willingness to special order what you want. The staff are usually amazingly knowledgeable and friendly. They also tend to foster very large communities with a high level of skill and competition. These larger stores (such as Pandemonium, RIW and gamers Gauntlet near Detroit, Go4Games and Plus1Gaming in New Orleans, Games Empire and Pairadice Games in San Diego, Table Top Game & Hobby in Kansas City, etc) are business models I would love to see expand.

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