Monday, May 30, 2011

More FLGS Hilarity Ensues

For a variety of reasons, I was unable to run the biweekly Greyhawk game this week, and one of my stalwart players stepped in and ran what was, by all accounts, a splendid one-off game. However, there were renewed complaints against our FLGS that have led to the decision to play at the home of one of our players (who has a really spiffy game room set up) and, on those days he is unavailable, at my own home.

I personally regard this as a great pity, because I like the idea of playing at the local store. I want to support my FLGS. But godsdamnit they're not making it very easy.

First, there was the issue of playing space. The store has two rooms for gaming; one big and one small. The small room is also the selling room-- it's where they keep the stuff on the walls to sell to folks. We were bounced between the big room (which was loud to the point of unusability, because of the high ceilings and tile floor) and the small room (which was much better, but cramped and still loud in its own way). It's not like this is a random thing-- you know we're going to be there every other Friday. But either way, the space is bad in its own way.

Second, there's the issue of special events. We've set up several wargame and boardgame days, which (I like to think) bring in folk who wouldn't be in the store, and possibly buying stuff. However, the last one was scheduled six weeks in advance, and yet they still scheduled a WH40K tournament on the same day, so we couldn't use the terrain tables. And they didn't have our event on the website, despite three separate attempts to get them to do so. Hell, they didn't even have it on the whiteboard in the entry to the store. So when our wargame and boardgame day happened, we were stuck in the small room, and when the regular roleplaying groups game in, they were squeezed in with us. Made us feel real special.

Third, there's ordering product. I have gone out of my way to order things from these people. I have told them when things have been shipped to distributors, which distributors they're shipped to, and have been assured, "we can order from those people." And yet, weeks and months later, nothing. "They've never heard of that. I can't find it on their computer system." Really? I place an order the week that Fields of Battle from Troll Lord Games is shipped to its distributors, and here it is more than a year later and you can't even find the effing thing?

And that's only the tip of the iceberg of the stuff I've tried to order from these people and failed. They say they can, and they end up shrugging their shoulders six months later when I inquire about my order. And given the short print runs of the stuff I'm inclined to order, I end up missing out. I still buy a lot of stuff there-- paint, flocking, board games, dice-- but I could spend a lot more there. I want to spend a lot more there. They claim they can't even order 15mm historical miniatures. Can't order them? Are you kidding? I worked in a game store in Boston for a while. They're just too lazy to do it, because they think it won't have as big a mark-up as WH40K.

I want to patronize my FLGS. I want to order product through them, and not via the internet. I want to play games there, and not at someone's house, because I know when people see games being played at a store the impression is that it's a lively place and it inherently increases sales.

And now, the latest indignity is that the FLGS was apparently an oven. No air conditioning. And to top it all off, a loud oven. To the point that a majority of the comments on the page for the event were complaining about the heat and the noise. Well, no more for me, thank you very much.

If you want to have a game store that caters to gamers, for the love of the gods make it a place where you can play games. Don't go cheap on your oil bill in the winter and cheap on the air conditioning bill in the summer. Don't hold off putting in carpeting or other things to dampen noise. Listen to the people actually bringing in traffic, and don't forget when they're holding an event, or make things hard for them when they do. Don't jerk people around when they make an order; if you can't or won't get what they ordered, say so right off the bat, rather than making them wait for months and miss the opportunity to actually buy it elsewhere.

Treat your customers like the people who spend all the money to keep your store afloat. Just because we don't all buy WH40K figures or Pokemon cards, we still do, or want to, spend a boatload of money on other things. Treat us with some respect. If you don't we'll move on. Like I and my group are about to do.


Northy said...

You've very eloquently explained the exact exasperating point of view I hold, too. It's a tragic and frustrating as all hell situation, for all the reasons you've mentioned.

Lots of people mourn the death, or the dying, of the FLGS, but sometimes I can't help but wonder if some of the more recent passings were because the idea of running the store as a passion as well as a business has gone out of fashion nowadays.

mortellan said...

Holy hell!
That's a huge litany of issues, I'm sorry to hear how things have gone. I like the idea of gaming at a store too, it keeps you focused unlike being at home where distractions abound. Keep up the effort, Joe.

The Badger King said...

I feel your pain about poor service from FLGS. The store I have patronzied for most of my life, I do so because it's the only game in town, so to speak (when it had competition, I would ALWAYS go there first). When I went in recently, the owner was trying to sell me on the merits of the new D&D 4ed box set. I politely told him I wasn't in to 4th Ed, I was more into Labyrinth Lord. His response to that was, "Oh, one of Internet games that just rips off old ideas, and that nobody really cares about." Since then, I don't shop too hard there. Their prices are stupid-high, and the only things I buy there now are the occasional reasonably-priced used material.

Hamlet said...

I'm tempted to print this out and post it on their front door.

Or drop it right on the front counter and walk out.

Eric said...

I have the very same issues with our FLGS in my area, the problem to me seems to stem from the fact the store caters only to the owners close network of friends and not to the general public. Because of this no matter how much we try to get gaming events up and running the owner ignores this in favor of MtG games causing us to be pushed off into a small corner and having to yell at each other to hear what the Gamemaster is saying...

Badmike said...

Most gaming stores are not run by business geniuses. I have patronized the local store here for over a decade but recently stopped shopping there. They cut down their gaming space by half, and then announced "No more dead games", because the owner decided playing original D&D on a table doesn't help sales of "in store" product. I'd say the majority of gaming stores probably should be out of business for any number of reasons, and I seldom mourn their passing.

shaneknysh said...

I have sadly had the same experience at several FLGS.

I think we need to start praising the amazing FLGS we know of so that the good stores get the credit and recognition they deserve!

The Comic Book Shoppe in Ottawa Ontario
Happy Harbour Comics in Edmonton Alberta

Earl said...

I've been the one calling the distributors before, and had them say something is not in their system, hung up, called the same number, gotten someone else, and had them find it within seconds.. its not always the LGS' fault.

Hamlet said...

Earl: No, it's not always the fault of the store, but in this case, it frequently is. Frequently, people have ordered multiple copies of the same product, and the store manages only to order one of them.

Plus, the simple lack of support for anything other than card games or Warhammer minis is more than a little annoying.

E.G.Palmer said...

If it's not gauche to link to my own blog, I did a problems with game store posts a bit ago also.

The Dave said...

WOW.. and I thought it was just my local store.. 4E D&D, Warhammer40K, and MtG and thats all they wrote.. I can actually find a larger dearth of materials at the Book Store.. at least they have Pathfinder..

Geoffrey said...

Back when Monte Cook was king of the D&D hill, I called my local game store and asked if they had the newly-released Arcana Unearthed. The guy on the phone had never heard of Monte Cook. He looked in his computer and said he couldn't find it, so he asked if it had been published yet. I said that it had been released at Gen Con. He had never heard of Gen Con.

Reminds me of the owner of a Christian bookstore I talked to who had never heard of C. S. Lewis.

James said...

"Reminds me of the owner of a Christian bookstore I talked to who had never heard of C. S. Lewis."

Not surprising, since most Christian bookstores only deal in feel-good "inspirational" crap. Definitely not the place to go for serious theological works or really, anything worth reading.