Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So Much for my FLGS

For those of my loyal readers who are local, it will not be news that Mighty Titans Games and Hobbies has closed its doors. That was the FLGS at which my bi-weekly Greyhawk campaign was meeting, and as I've written in the campaign reports, it was a terrific space. I will miss it.

However, what I am specifically writing about is the way that Mighty Titans left us.

Last Friday, we had a session at the store. Everything, to all appearances, was fine. In fact, one of our usual tables had been commandeered to unpack boxes of new stock that were to go on the shelves. One of the store owners was there behind the register, and said nary a word about any plans, changes, or troubles, despite the fact that we have been a regular fixture there for 4 months, and I've been a regular customer for years, going out of my way to at least buy some little something each time we game there, as a gesture of thanks. Sometimes the somethings aren't so little.

On Sunday, apparently, the store was stripped, shelves and stock removed, and a hand-written sign placed on the door promising that the store was "taking gaming to a new level in a new space-- check our website for details" (or words to that effect). It took them nearly a week to put up any sort of notice on said website. And this was after having been in the space for only 6 months after having left their previous space.

That it was an inconvenient development goes without saying. But it was the suddenness, and the complete and utter lack of information leading up to the event, that is so troubling. You don't wake up one morning, decide to close a retail store, and go rent a U-Haul. This had to have been something in the works for some time. But there was no communication, no attempt to inform their customers that anything was amiss. Hell, if I had known there was a problem, I certainly would have dropped another $100 on product last Friday, and I'm sure I'm not alone. But there was nothing. Someone just showed up on Sunday and the place was empty.

Now, I don't know the specifics behind what happened with Mighty Titans, and likely never will. But I guarantee you when we were there on Friday, that owner behind the counter knew what was going on, and kept it to himself. For all the show of trying to promote some sort of "gaming community", it was just a sham. A simple "things aren't going like we had hoped, and we're going to be moving to a less expensive location" would have been all I asked. But no. I guess what bothers me the most is that they just took us, the customers, for granted.


Anthony Emmel said...

That seems to be happening with some regularity these days with gaming shops. Same thing happened at a local store here a couple of months, one had have patronized since 1984. Was in one week, owner said nothing...BOOM....gone.

Stephen Simpson, CFA said...

>>This had to have been something in the works for some time<<

Actually, that's not necessarily true. The end of businesses often comes quite suddenly.

Sometimes a business partner pulls out, other times a bank refuses to renew/roll over a line of credit.

In other cases, the owners think they have a good plan to continue and in the 11th hour something just goes wrong - somebody gets cold feet, or tries to press an advantage too far and the whole thing falls apart.

Obviously I don't know these people, or the situation, but I can tell you that this may hit have hit them almost as suddenly as it did you. It may not seem reasonable or likely, but I've seen it happen often enough to know that it's actually sadly normal.

Greg Christopher said...

I was about to say what Stephen said, more eloquently than I would have. So I will have to just nod in agreement.

Business failure can actually happen quite suddenly.

scottsz said...

That sucks, Mr. B.

I've encountered that a few times with other small businesses and in each case it was a landlord getting greedy.

Sean said...

I'm going to add that shutting down a business, even if it's temporary, is not fun. Small businessmen put a lot of themselves into their business, and shutting it down can feel like a big failure. Plus, of course, that's your source of income gone. So yes, he should have let his customers know what was happening; it would have been the smart thing to do. But it could be that he felt like enough of a loser already, and couldn't deal the the questions and sympathy that would have been the inevitable result of telling people about his problems.

mortellan said...

I'm sorry to read that this happened. What is your back up plan for gaming? Anyone willing to put up a home location? I'd hate to see your GH game go into hiatus.

Justin Alexander said...

"But I guarantee you when we were there on Friday, that owner behind the counter knew what was going on, and kept it to himself."

I can think of a dozen scenarios in which it wouldn't be true that he knew on Friday what was going to happen. All of those scenarios make you look like the jerk.

The rest of the scenarios just make you look like a guy with an enlarged sense of self-importance coupled to a painful lack of empathy.

Northy said...

"The rest of the scenarios just make you look like a guy with an enlarged sense of self-importance coupled to a painful lack of empathy."

You do realise this quote makes it sound like you're the traditional preacher type that insists that gamers have no rights to quality of service. Also, a bit of a pompous ass, right?

Sure, something could have happened that was a shock and surprise to them, but even in the worst case the way they've gone about informing their own loyal customers who've supported them fervently, the way they've explained nothing to us except whispered insinuations, the way they've just upped and and gone? That's not good service, that's not even mediocre service, that's showing zero loyalty to the people who keep them in business, who have spent considerable amounts of money there as well as time referring and encouraging people to help the store out because it was a good place to be, as far as we could tell.

Simple fact is, yeah, it might sound like we are acting entitled but, in this case, we actually are entitled to some degree of understandable frustration at how things have gone down, and how they've entirely kept everyone out of the loop.

And before anyone else with a self-importance accusation jumps on board, I've seen the process of FLGS from both sides, I've been involved on the other hand and good-will and cooperation with your regular faces (and believe me, the Greyhawk group were some of the most regular faces they had) and keeping them in the loop of news is part of the core of keeping people in the FLGS. Fail that and it becomes nothing more than another inefficient competitor to internet ordering.

mksiebler said...

I can understand your frustration. It does not sound like they went out of business suddenly. It sounds like they are moving to another location.

From their website:
"Dear loyal customers and friends,
We have closed the store this week and are currently in the process of taking our business to a bigger and better place. Please keep an eye on this website for the next couple of weeks for more information."

As such, I wish them well. Outside of the communication issue (a similar thing happened the last time they moved), they ran a game store like professionals (well-stocked, clean, brightly-lit, friendly).

scottsz said...

@Justin: Who took a dump in your cornflakes this morning?

Endroren said...

I enjoy this blog but I didn't enjoy this post. I can feel your pain, and the situation does stink.

At the same time, I'll bet closing this store down wasn't a financial windfall for this guy. In fact, odds are he lost money.

So what happens when someone says "we're closing?" A lot of times customers don't support them. Customers are not, after all, friends. They are business associates. Perhaps you would have supported him, but many would have said "Oh, well." and walked away.

So, is it possible that he kept it a secret so that he could salvage what little capital he could before he watched his store, likely his dream, crumble around him?

Again - I get that you're mad, and perhaps there was a nefarious element to this, but it seems even more likely that someone's livelihood just fell apart around them. I'm sure they appreciated your business over the years, but as their business failed, I bet they had other things on their minds.

Callin said...

I once worked in a small store that closed up suddenly and without much word. The only people he told were his employees about a week before. The reason being was that he owed a couple of months back rent (as he tired to keep the place afloat) and he was not intending to pay it.
If he let out he was planning on leaving the place the owners of the building would have attempted to seize some of the assets. Instead he told no one (so word would not spread) and packed everything up in one day and was gone before anyone could stop him. He then attempted to sell off his remaining inventory after the fact.