We recently got an email from a Gnome Stew reader, Shane Kirby (Shaninator here on the Stew), who is planning to open a gaming store in Alabama and wanted some feedback from fellow readers and GMs. He offered some good hooks for an article, and it’s a topic we’ve never covered here before, so we thought it might interest our readers.
Sure, it’s free market research, but it’s market research I wish gamers were consulted about more often, and it’s a topic I love to talk about myself.
Shane would also like some help naming his prospective store, and is offering a $100 Amazon gift certificate to the person who suggests the name he eventually chooses.
Sound good? Let’s dive in!
Shane has done his homework, and he’s identified some key features of a good local gaming store (LGS) — features that would help turn it into your favorite local gaming store, or FLGS:
1. Brick and mortar stores have the advantage of word of mouth. Knowledgeable staff is extremely important. When the store first opens, I will probably only have one other employee besides my wife and myself. I’m the type of gamer who plays and reads nearly everything, and I don’t limit myself to only Wizards of the Coast products. My wife is quickly catching up to me in her knowledge, too. As employees come in, I could see adding a section called “Employee Top Picks” to help showcase games that wouldn’t normally catch your eye.
2. Space. The best LGSs all have plenty of space to hold tournaments, war games, and allow gamers room to play without being bothered by CCG players.
3. Promotions. I’ve done my fair share of researching wholesale books and distributors. Many game stores get stuck in a rut and stick to their distributors, when the dealer should be trying to win your support. Too many games can now be bought directly from the publisher in the gaming industry as well. Getting products at good prices isn’t hard if you try, considering the markup on books in very high. Wholesale can lead to my customers reaping discounts and promotions, while I still make enough profit to stay afloat or expand.
Another good promotion would be using membership cards, probably punch cards when we first open. After 10 visits, you receive a free product or discount on your next visit. GMs and tournament judges would have access to a different membership that rewards running games in the store as well as making purchases.
4. Organization. I hate looking for books at my only LGS in the area because it’s not well-organized. In fact, finding a book is like digging for treasure, except without the happy ending when I realize the store is out of stock. Organize the store by system, so fans of White Wolf can jump past Mutants & Masterminds, for example.
5. A side gig. Aside from the main store, I’m beginning to write my first supplement. I will promote this in the store, along with free adventures and other supplements for GM memberships. I am focusing my writing on a system generic fantasy series called “Highwall.”
Are these all of the elements of a good LGS? What does it take to make your LGS an FLGS?
Questions for GMs
Based on what Shane said, I think there are two key questions here:
- What do GMs want out of their FLGSs, and how is that different from what players might want?
- How can brick-and-mortar stores help GMs in ways that online stores cannot?
Those are meaty questions, and along with more general gamer-oriented questions, they’re ones I wish more LGS owners would ask before opening their doors.
So how about it: Do GMs have different FLGS needs than players?
Name That Store!
Right now, Shane’s store has no name — and it needs one. If you’d like to give him a hand, suggest fun names in the comments. If he picks a name that you suggested (and were the first to suggest), he’ll send you a $100 Amazon gift certificate.
(Gnome Stew isn’t involved in this part of contest, and Shane is free to make this offer elsewhere, too. We’ll pass on the winner’s email address to Shane, assuming the winner is a Gnome Stew commenter.)
Can you do better than my current favorite, “Them Devil Games That Made Tom Hanks Go All Nuts”?