January 29, 2009

The Smell of Dust is the Smell of Death

On review, this post came off a bit snarky. Sorry about that, it's been a long week. You were warned.

I'm a big believer in FLGSs, or Friendly Local Game Stores. When I'm in the mood to buy a game product and have some cash to burn, I want to go heft that boardgame, flip through that module, or debate which pack of CCG cards feels luckiest. It about the environment—a 'we get it" atmosphere that can't be found anywhere else, save perhaps Gen Con.

Despite living about 30 minutes from New York City, game stores are in short supply for me. (On the flip side, maybe that's the problem: there's way too much to do out here.) When I find a new store, its a rare treat. Like many others, I'll also take what I can get, even if it's the really-a-comic-store-but-we-have-a-few-RPGs type of place.

I've seen a few FLGSs crumple in my time, usually a sad, slow death that is basically painful to watch. Two stores I frequent—neither I'll name—seem to be following this fate right now. Bummer. Yet some places seem to do it right. Some highly opinionated points I'd offer for FLGS success (bearing in mind I have zilch experience running said establishments):

1. Keep the stock fresh.

Get in regular new stock if it is available. Have a "New Arrivals" shelf. Don't make me hunt for the new stuff, it doesn't attract me to the old stock I push aside. Some days I only have time for a quick stop, and a quick discovery is a quick sale.

Don't swear off a line because a single book doesn't sell. I've seen it so many times—a store begins to carry a line, a book or two from that line doesn't fly off the shelf, and wham, no more new arrivals. Perhaps I've already got that book and I'm looking for the next. You never know.

2. Keep the "F" in Friendly-LGS.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but there it is. Be nice. Offer assistance, then back off. Don't follow me around the store, haunting me like a ghost, but don't ignore me either. I once walked into a FLGS, selected a $60 boardgame from the shelf, and then waited in vain for 15 minutes at the front counter to be acknowledged. I wasn't. I walked, and the $60 stayed in my jeans. Not good for your business, and not good for my attitude.

3. Diversify.

Think about mixing in non-RPG goods with your stock. I'm not talking totally left field here, but RPGers share a lot of similarly geeky interests. Show me 5 guys that play D&D, and I'll gamble one's a horror fan, one likes graphic novels, one plays the boardgame Descent, one owns a Playstation or X-Box, and at least one's an avid reader. Stock a bookshelf with fantasy novels and perhaps some thriller or horror fiction. Carry some graphic novels. Stock some toy figures (McFarland, etc). You get the idea. For geeks like me, it's one stop shopping. And hey, if the latest Pathfinder I'm seeking isn't there, I might buy the latest copy of Walking Dead or a boardgame instead.

4. Allow some "geek space" but keep your geeks in line.

Most stores are good about this. A FLGS is a safe haven for roleplayers, so allocate some space for them to throw down some dice. 
That said—and I hate to say this but it's true—control your customers. Every other game store I enter seems to have at least one fellow that's bellowing at the top of his lungs about his female elf wizard character or pinning me up against the wall in an unrequested conversation telling me the glories of his favorite game system with his nose 6 inches deep into my personal space. Not cool. It's worse if I bring my better half along with me or, worse yet, her parents. (And yes Virginia, it happens. I've gone on family trips out of state and had to enter newly found FLGSs with unexpected company!) In fairness, customer behavior isn't the sole responsibility of the FLGS.

5. Keep the place tidy.

Hence the title of this post. I used to find the smell of dust in game stores quaint. Now it makes me want to bolt. Hefting a game book from the shelf with a half inch of dust on it just makes me feel like I'm accepting someone else's leftovers. Even if you've had it in stock for 6 years, unless its an original Fiend Folio or Dragon #20, I don't need to know that.

Here's to all the great FLGSs out there. I love you guys, and I hope you all easily weather the current economic situation and keep rolling for years to come.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...