I like my “local” game store a lot. I say “local” in quotation marks because it is actually more of a 50 minute drive one way with a significant portion of that time spent on a highway in order to visit the store. Unfortunately, because of this, we only get out there once every few months or so as a special trip. It makes it challenging to get into their boardgaming events or participate in any RPG groups. Still, it holds a special place in my heart.
I love the game store. I love the physical experience of exploring the shelves and shelves of board games, RPG books, and minis. My local store looks pretty tiny and shabby from the outside, but entering through the door and walking around the corner to see all the glory revealed is like entering Narnia. Seriously, what looks tiny morphs into what seems like MILES of gaming trinkets. Miles.
Games Plus, the name of the store we visit, not only has loads of minis, shelves of board games, piles of various gaming tools – such as dice, dice bags, terrain, painting supplies, etc. – but it has a large back room with tables set up for various wargames and RPG groups. The place is often filled with dozens of gamers trying new games or playing old favorites. Tournaments, competitions, and regular sessions are all part of what this store provides to the gaming community. I am sure that we are not the only ones who drive almost two hours round-trip to visit.
The unfortunate challenge though, a large disconnect, is that the powers of my wallet pull me in one direction while my loyalties to the local store pull me in another. I am a frugal person. I like to make my dollar go as far as it possibly can. I don’t buy games or any fun-thing very regularly, and when I do, I like to make it count. Unfortunately, games are generally cheaper – and significantly so – on Amazon, especially with free shipping. I would much rather support the local store by buying all my games there… but when I can save $30 or $40 on a gaming purchase, i have to err on the side of cheapness.
I try to compromise – first of all, the store is so far away that it’s not always easy to get out there. I try to make trips every once in a while even if only just for fun, but usually at least one of my friends buys something. If the price of a game is very close between Amazon and Games Plus, I choose the local store – for example, today I bought Kill Dr. Lucky for $29.99 at Games Plus when it is available on Amazon for $28.84. I’m not so cheap that $1 will make me choose the “man.”
I also find the store a great place to look at and purchase Minis (you people can argue however much you want about tactical combat in DnD and which is better – use of Minis and Grids or just verbal description of the action with DM judgement – but I quite enjoy using Minis regardless) and dice. It’s also great to scout out new games or new RPG books worth a purchase – items that would go unnoticed if lost in a long list of random items on a website. The convenient thing about the internet is that you can easily find what you’re looking for – the trouble is that it’s hard to find something if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.
So, do you guys have a local game store that you love and or visit regularly? Do you try to make local purchases, or do you skew towards bigger stores with more discounted prices?
One final note – if you’re local to the chicago area and you’ve never visited Games Plus, you should definitely check it out. Get directions and information at http://www.games-plus.com.