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 meetup.com 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.