Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

BGTG 61 - Aug 2, 2006 - Friendly, Local Game Stores

Whew! Finally a new show. Like the last time I (unintentionally) took a little time off from the podcast, it was a little hard to get back into the swing of things. Last time I thought a simpler Session Report and Feedback show was the way to get back into the podcasting groove, but this time I wanted to try a theme show. That's because I'd been hearing the excellent series hosted by Eric Burgess on his Boardgame Babylon podcast, one he calls the "Demise & Rise of the FLGS."

You'll hear from this episode of BGTG that I don't share the same feelings about game stores. Not that I have anything against them, it's just that I don't find that they provide much of a service that I need. At least, not today. It was different when I was in high school, when the only way to even discover new games--let alone buy them--was to go to a game store. But that was a long time ago, and the business side of the hobby has changed. Sure seems that way to me, anyway.



Blogger Mike Doyle said...

Very interesting to hear your impressions on game stores. I found Eric's last episode on friendly game stores fascinating to hear as well. What struck me in his interview is the innovative nitches and services this particular game shop is adopting.

I too have found little need for the "real thing". However, one store has served well to host a game group I go to. Additionally, I like to go to the Compeat Strategist just to browse. It's that whole kid in the candy shop thing – holding the games, browsing through the shelves and reading through the game backs. I really love this and will buy a game just to have it on the spot. It is almost a luxury going to a well stocked store, where the online is more "massy".

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

Ok, I'll bite. These days, I often question myself about my FLGS preference. You bring on good points in favor of online store but there is one big flaw for me that you haven't mentioned: location. I live in Québec and I ordered games once from Funagain and once from Jocade (France). Each time, I found it cost me way too much for games that I could find locally a few months later. There are two reasons for this : exchange rate and customs fees (duty). It is my understanding that customs fees are not always applied but, I always got burned for whatever I was buying (DVD, games, books, ...). We're talking of an added 20CAD to 40CAD here.

Now, the exchange rate between our two countries are back to a reasonable level but I'm not compelled to try it again. My online shopping is now limited to Amazon.CA. And why should I order from canadian game store when I have access to a few decent FLGS and the greatest of them all : "Le Valet d'Coeur" from which I know you ordered before ( But then, the exchange rate was to your advantage. It is a wonderful sight, all these games tightly tucked on one big wall. It brings back the child in you!

Finally, there is the instant gratification factor. I can actually open the box as soon as I exit the store. And for all these reasons, I'm willing to pay a little more and contribute to keeping these stores opened. Just as long, as it does not exceed the exchange rate!

Thanks for coming back to us!

Michel Fortin
Québec, Canada

P.S. : Why is it that I listen to a plethora of podcasts and I only give feedback to yours? (It's a rethorical question meant as a compliment!)

4:43 AM  
Blogger Game Over said...

Most FLGS I have lived near have done very little in terms of supporting the hobby. This function seems to be mainly filled by volunteer-run clubs.
If a FLGS isn't offering me anything 'value-added' how can I justify spending the extra money?

5:01 PM  
Blogger Harold said...

Excellent podcast and I completely agree with you. Maybe it's becase I haven't been to a truly great game store, but I don't get anything I need there other than the actual game. In that case, I might as well save some money. As for learning about games, I go into a gamestore knowing a lot more about games than any staff member, thanks to reading the Geek, Boardgamenews, and listening to podcasts like yours. Keep up the great work!

4:04 PM  
Blogger fubar awol said...

My experience with game stores is very similar to yours - we are about the same age and I grew up in So. Cal. The part about "visiting, browsing and not buying" is also quite similar, at least in my late teens and 20's - after I became a lifestyle ASLer and simply used the store to get the next release in the series discounted by the case for me and my ASL-obsessed friends.

In my early teens, I may have had a bit more disposable income than you and did patronize a hobby store repeatedly to actually buy games. This was LONG before the internet, and the hobby store where I bought games had a nice selection of AH, SPI, Yaqinto and other war games. It was the only way to get them, and since I am (and always have been) a novelty junky – me and my friend Dave kept their game isle in business.

The store was called “the Military Shop” or something and specialized in miniatures, models, books and paraphanlia about that subject. I don’t know whether it every carried “Magic” (I was too deep in ASL to notice the CCG phenom) but as I said, did do war games pretty well. I always enjoyed going there to browse. They never had an open gaming area, and really didn’t provide much service for gamers.

Fast forward to today: Your thoughts about the internet and the fact that BGG and a few other sites (particularly on-line game retailers) are the ones who really provide meaningful service ARE who we should patronize because of it really hit the mark. I haven’t gotten my ’06 supporters badge for BGG yet – and your broadcast convinced me to get off the dime.

Anyway – thanks Mark for the tour down memory lane. It was fun. I continue to be amazed at how interesting some of you podcasters can make a long commentary like this.

Keep up the good work.


10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My local game store hosts many miniature (as in Warhammer, 40K, etc) leagues and tourneys. A great experience for minis gamers.

For boardgames... I share your experience and views. We're trying to get a regular game day at the store going but it's too early to tell if it will be a hit.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the next show.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard that Mark Johnson caused the Santa Clarita fires and is on the lamb. That's why there's been no podcasts.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8/2/91 - Rick James arrested.

15 years later, Mark Johnson creates his (seemingly) last podcast.


Mark, does Rick James have you as his prisoner? Is he trying to get his super freak on?

Rick James! Let Mark go! Let him go, Rick James!

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have it from a very reliable source that Mark is hitch hiking to Korea so that he can be the new sidekick on The Dice Tower.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ridiculous! He was brought in to replace Gagne as the new relief pitcher for The Dodgers. He'll be back once the season is over.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

I appreciate all the speculation. The truth is that I'm still playing games, still having fun, more of it with my family . . . and that's put a squeeze on podcasting.

I haven't quit, and in fact would like to get back into the swing of it. Which may or may not happen. The shows may be fewer and farther between now. The truth is, I've recorded three shows--at least partially--but haven't posted any. One I deleted outright for the unacceptable audio quality, another was mothballed (but might resurface someday), and the last should actually be ready soon.


P.S. Tommy Lasorda, wow! I'm honored. :-)

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What games have been a hit with your family?

How did Walimopi go over?

1:01 PM  
Blogger Chris B said...

Take your time Mark. You're shows are quality, not quantity. If you ever put out shows just for the sake of putting them out, then I probably wouldn't like them so much.

But a blog post about your status, letting us know your okay every once in a while wouldn't hurt.

6:24 AM  

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