Your Turn: Your Friendly Local Game Store

Posted by Andrew L {Avid Gamer} | 16-Apr-14 | 20 comments

Your Turn - A BoardGaming.com Discussion

Hey there, I’m Andrew; game industry professional, reviewer, gamer, fellow Boardgaming.com member and the host of BoardGaming.com’s discussion series called “Your Turn.”

This is your chance to let us know what YOU think about a variety of topics related to hobby gaming. I’ll start the conversation and then it’s “your turn” to chime in and add to the discussion. Each Your Turn discussion will have a new topic, and we may even have some special guests make a surprise visit down the road. In the meantime…

Your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS)

One of my fondest memories of this hobby was walking into my first hobby game store: The Tin Soldier in Kettering Ohio. Back in the early 80’s this game store rivaled any in business today. They had every current title for D&D, Avalon Hill, Games Workshop, TSR and all the lead-based miniatures from Ral Partha and Grenadier. The store was large, well lit, had a display case up front and a big room in back for playing some great games of the time.

The first time I stepped foot inside this store, within minutes I was invited to join in a game of Air Force by Avalon Hill. There were small model planes attached to telescoping antennas and little paper diagrams of your plane with all the stats and cool rainbow-like maneuvering graphs. Man it was cool!

Air Force

The person running the game was friendly and patient. (You can imagine how not-so-user-friendly the rules were in 1980) And I got my plane shot down in about 4 turns. But it was the best experience – one that set me on a course of enjoying and teaching hobby games since that time.

I loved that store. But it wasn’t just the store, it was a place to go with likeminded people. Our hobby is about the people. You, reading this. The man that invited me to play and those gamers back in 1980 who were essentially doing the same thing that we are doing now. My brother who sat through hours (and I mean hours) of Star Fleet Battles games at age 10. So many more.

Now, we just recently launched a new FLGS feature here on BoardGaming.com, and the store info has been filling in! Amazing! Make sure you list your favorite FLGS on the site, but I’m going to challenge you one step further…

Go to this store and tell the owner or manager about BoardGaming.com. Have them register for the site and then comment on their own store on that FLGS page. We’d like to know the facts about a store – but only you and the folks there can tell us about the people who work and play there. In the meantime:

Question: Tell us about a great memory from a local game store. What’s the store like, tell us about the owner or manager. Did you have a great game play experience or purchasing experience?

Your turn…

Comments (20)

Gamer Avatar
5
AEG fan
Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
I Play This One a LOT

Mad Hatters House of Games in Lubbock, Texas got me into the gaming hobby. I honestly don’t know if there is a more friendly store owner than Hatter. The 1st game I bought from him, on his recommendation, was Lords of Waterdeep. He sold me the game with a promise to buy it back from me at full value if I didn’t like it because his personal copy was “wearing out”. He then mentioned that he had made that promise to over a dozen previous customers and still had his old worn out copy. Years later, I still always get a smile, kind words, and great advice from Hatter and his crew. They recently bought new property and expanded their shop too, so they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon!

Gamer Avatar
6
USA
Mage Wars fan

Started playing at the dragons inn, now gone, what a shame

Gamer Avatar

The one here in TX is pretty awesome. 19,000 sq feet it is epic huge but caters to all types of games the ownership is great and very supportive of people and their projects as well as does not get stuck in the MTG or WH only mind set. Madness is just one of us for us.

Gamer Avatar
5
Gamer - Level 5
Sophomore
Bard

I remember going into Boston (I lived in Lynn, just north of Boston) with my oldest brother. I was a a young teenager. He got me into gaming. We used to go into the Complete Strategist on Mass Ave and spend the afternoon looking through game magazines, reading backs of game boxes, leafing through role-playing books, and admiring the dice, miniatures, and other assorted game stuff. We would always walk out with some new game or supplement. I don’t get into Boston as much, and I don’t see my brother as much as I would like (both of us are married). But, we still talk (if email counts as talking) about gaming all the time.

Gamer Avatar
7
Canada
Advanced Reviewer
Rosetta Stone

FLGS how I wish there was one in my immediate area. I recently attended a conference in Barrie through my company. I had nothing to do in the evenings as I was out of town so I decided to go out out on the town to see if there was something interesting. I came across a fantastic FLGS named Sir-Games-A-Lot in a Barrie Mall. I was very impressed. Their selection of games both old and new was impressive. The staff was fantastic as they were very friendly and helpful. I was lucky enough to have ventured in while they were having a games night. I was invited to join in on the fun and was not disappointed. A group welcomed me in, taught me Pandemic and walked me through 2 games. They later taught me 2 other games that they thought would be of interest to me and my family. There was never any pressure on me to purchase anything and I was welcomed with open arms. This was definitely the highlight of that week. If all FLGS are like this then I can see why many people are so enthusiastic about their FLGS.

Thanks Sir-Games-A-Lot for your excellent service and welcoming in a stranger from distant lands. Two thumbs way up!

Gamer Avatar
8
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Subscribed to BG News
Platinum Supporter
Advanced Reviewer

Game stores didn’t get me into gaming, the magic of being in High School right when MTG debuted did. So my whole school was learning about CCGs at the same time and that got me into gaming, or should I say, brought me back to gaming as family game night was popular with my family as a kid, so the old standards like Monopoly, Scrabble, LIFE, Risk, etc were all played often.

Sadly, I don’t have a “local” game store anymore. I used to have one in Neutral Ground, in NYC, but that has long since gone under. Now I need to travel over an hour and a half to get to a LGS, but it is worth the trip as it’s one of the best stores on the planet imo.

Gamer Avatar
4
Rated 25 Games
Amateur Reviewer

When I was growing up in Central Iowa, I didn’t have a ‘favorite’ game store because I was lucky enough to have a couple from which to choose. That is a luxury I don’t have these days, but I digress. Sadly, I don’t remember the name of EITHER store and I will blame outside forces for this rather than my sagging memory. Even more sadly, they are both gone, run out of town by who-knows-what nefarious forces…probably the Walmartification of American retail. It seemed like one of my game stores favored war games above all others. that was where I stocked up on my Avalon Hill games (Squad Leader series, Rise & Decline of the Third Reich) while the other store tended toward more traditional board games and RPGs. There WAS a third one that dabbled in board games but they were more my Tamiya model hook up.

Gamer Avatar
2
Reporter Intern

Yancy Street Comics in Port Richey, Florida added a gaming department last year after moving to a much larger location to accommodate it. They hired a long-time gamer and his wife to run the place and they’re the friendliest people I’ve ever met. They have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and sexual harassment and offer great weekly gaming events, as well as tournaments and open gaming for “holidays” like Tabletop Day. I’m a long-time boardgamer but a total n00b to D&D and they set me up with a group that ranged from hardcore, original players to those who have only ever played just 4e. Everyone was friendly, helpful and fun to play with.

Gamer Avatar
8
El Dorado
I'm a Gamin' Fiend!
Rated 100 Games
Paladin

I feel like game stores have definitely evolved and matured. I remember when a game store meant shelves and shelves of overly complex hex-and-counter wargames. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but the stores themselves (like the rulebooks of said games) were never very inviting. Merchandise was often haphazardly placed on shelves, Floors and surfaces were often dusty and dirty, and the less said about the bathrooms the better. Generally not an inviting atmosphere much of the time.
Now, I know several game stores that are great retail outlets as well as being a welcoming place to play games and find friends who like to do the same. It’s good for the culture if you can bring you friend to a FLGS and not have them feel creeped out. The more, the merrier!

Gamer Avatar
8
Rosetta Stone
Football Fan
Explorer - Level 5
Junior

Game stores didn’t really exist when I was growing up. There were Book stores…for the kids, that was a real store you could walk into to buy books…and the rare Hobby store. Comic stores also sold game stuff, and that’s where I got most of my gaming until I moved to Chicago.

Once I found Games Plus (near Chicago) I realized there were LOTS of different kinds of games. I played Axis & Allies at a mini-game convention and someone was playing Settlers of Catan. I thought it looked too abstract or simple at first, then fell in love.

About the same time, however, I dropped into the CCG pit and for the next few years my life was that hole. By the time I clawed my way out, I was living in California, and exposed to others who enjoyed board games. I met them at Brookhurst Hobbies, and also at the now closed West Coast Gaming Store in Torrance.

For me, the beauty of the game store was how it brought people together. Back then…walking inside a game store and seeing other people playing games was like being set free. I felt like it was okay to play games, or at least that I wasn’t alone in my obsession.

It was also vital in my social development. I didn’t just go in and buy comics and leave. It wasn’t an hour interacting with a video game at an arcade. It was different than reading books, playing with dice, making up card games with a standard deck. You had to interact and talk to people, and without game stores I think I’d have been a much more lonely person.

Gamer Avatar
7
Norway
Book Lover
I play blue
Paladin

I think it is a general impression I will give you, of my local game store. I have been friends with the owners for many years, I spend cold December evenings selling games along side with them, I can just stop by for a chat and to look at the shelves.

The store is called Spillskrinet.no, and yes, it is a net based store, working out of a basement in a private home. The owners are very nice, chatty people. They bring service to the customers that I have seen no likeness to. They order games especially for us if they don`t have them in stock. I get discount price there, which is good, and maybe first dibs on some special deals. One such was just before Christmas, when I got Amerigo half off due to a small damage on the box. 😀 I love the store!

Gamer Avatar
9
Gamer - Level 8
Explorer - Level 5
Critic - Level 3
Junior

I come from the 4th largest city in Norway but we barely had any FLGS before the 20th century. My local store is actually a friend of mine who runs it from his basement in his spare time.

With 4 kids and the amount of new games I fare he might be considering a retirement on that part as he has no chance of keeping update on which games to stock and which to drop.

One tradition they have is a few times before x-mas to have some open days and it always are very crowded so there definetively is market for it. On top of that, both he and his wife are very friendly and helpful to whatever type of game you are looking for.

Gamer Avatar
5
Book Lover
Video Game Fan

I remember when we stumbled across Epoch Studios a long time ago. It was the coolest place I had ever seen. They had this rambling series of rooms filled with large tables. On each table was a miniature scene all to scale with the minis for gaming. One table was the town with buildings that opened up, floor by floor, so the minis could actually enter the tavern or the guard tower etc. One table was a sort of halfling settlement, one was wooded I think and then there was table after table of this enormous mountain range. Some of the mountains had a cave or series of caves in them and could be opened up, layer by layer, for the minis to explore.

They had this amazing character sheet that was actually a tray filled with physical representations of everything; a number of hearts equal to one’s health, little weapons etc. We were playing D&D in the coolest possible way. Tables each had their own GM who ran the NPCs and collected and returned hit points and such. They also had a cool little room to run Call of Cthulhu in that looked like a little 20’s era parlor as well as space for folks to come in and paint minis. Eventually it evolved into a gaming store where one could buy minis, gaming books, paints, board games, collectible card games etc etc etc. And for the past year I have been lucky enough to work there. It is now called Greenfield Games and it is a wonderful, friendly place where Magic tournaments, heroclix, RPGs, Warhammer , boardgames and more are played.

Gamer Avatar
6
Gamer - Level 5
I Love Playin' Games
Amateur Advisor
Rated 100 Games

Unfortunately for me I have never lived by a game store (since I started in the hobby). Every place I’ve lived, the only places to buy games were the bug box stores or online.

I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories though and hope one day to live a little closer to an FLGS of my own.

Gamer Avatar
8
Professional Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Silver Supporter
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan

Well, I wish I could add a cool story about how FLGS got me into gaming, but that is not the case. When I was younger, I was far more into video gaming(Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Nintendo, PC) than board gaming. I didn’t really know about those stores with the big hobby games in them, and I grew up in more rural areas like where I now live. You’re not going to find too many FLGS in the middle of nowhere unfortunately.

I had walked away from video gaming for quite some time, because it had taken over my life in one way. I got married and started a family. My wife and I tried a few games (Risk, Scrabble) and played a lot of card games (Phase 10, Canasta) early in our marriage, but three babies came along and sucked up the free time for a while. It wasn’t until I picked up a copy of “Settlers of Canaan” (a Catan clone) at a local Christian bookstore and played it with my oldest daughter (seven at that time) that I really got the boardgaming bug. She played it so well with me that I kind of went bonkers.

I still live in the country, so I started researching games on BGG and dropped some big bucks down to start my collection. The nearest city didn’t really have any decent game stores for boardgames until very recently, but it’s still pretty far for me to make it by any of them on a regular basis. I have bought a couple of games to show some support at one of them that now has a really good selection, but to be honest, I can’t afford it compared to online prices.

So.. that’s my story. Sorry it wasn’t much of a grandiose FLGS saves the day kind of story.

Gamer Avatar
6
Canada
I'm a Real Person
Treasure Map

It started when a friend took me to a store called Sentry Box. I picked up some Star Trek ship miniatures to paint. Then some modules and books for Dungeons & Dragons (basic and advanced versions). The store relocated to a larger store that is now over 13,000 sq.ft. in size (yes that is correct), and I continued to buy games like Blood Bowl (game and miniatures), DungeonQuest, and Talisman.

With around 46,000 items for sale at the current location. I love to go there as it is my favorite place to get RPGs, board games, miniature games, miniatures, and books. If I cant get it there, they will try and get it in for me. This store fueled my love for gaming by having everything I wanted or needed.

The had Table Top day like most other stores. They have table top everyday…lol. They have a large area for gaming, lots of tables to borrow games you might want to try (before you buy), or bring your own in and enjoy the company of like minded gamers. They have “special event” nights were certain games are featured, but you can always play your own there as well.

Writing this makes me want to go there right now. 🙂

Gamer Avatar
9
Canada
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter

@Wrex WOW! Your FLGS is THE FLGS!! Lucky duck! That must have been one heck of a Tabletop Day!

Gamer Avatar
5
Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
Eminent Domain Fan

I’ve only recently started going to my FLGS to play games. Both times were at Cool Stuff, and both times were great and memorable. The first I went for an Android: Netrunner tournament. Lost horribly, but made new friends and got some neat promos!

The second was more recently, for Tabletop Day. I’d never heard of Tabletop Day until this year, so it was really cool seeing all these folks gathered together to play board games. Plus, I got to meet Tom Vasel!

Gamer Avatar
9
USA
Platinum Supporter
Petroglyph
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester

I grew up playing mostly RPGs and video games. As a family, we played all the traditional board games, and those informed my reality… board games were roll and move social events. I enjoyed them with the family, but didn’t consider them a hobby.

Then, about 6 years ago, I was introduced to a game called Puerto Rico. Kaboom! My mind was blown.

I soon discovered BGG and several online board game stores (Thoughthammer, Boards and Bits, Coolstuff, Time Well Spent, and Funagain Games to name just a few). A good local game store was not around when I first started.

However, on a trip to California, I stopped at Funagain Games in Ashland, Oregon. The nondescript storefront was in an old strip mall. The small space was stacked high with games, but many of them were games I already had… or didn’t want. I was a little disappointed. Then, the man behind the register offered me to see the warehouse in the back.

Kaboom again! There were shelves and shelves of every game in existence. It looked like the final scene from Raider of the Lost Ark… only cooler! I knew right then… I must have them all.

A couple years ago, they put a Funagain store just 20 minutes from my house. They hold game nights and tournaments, and all is right with the world. God bless us everyone.

Gamer Avatar
9
Canada
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter

As an only child and a ‘gift’ (read:an accident before the water slide of life shut down for good :P) the Padre was totally unphased by my dearth of a Y-Chromosome. I think he used to slip a copy of Keep on the Borderlands under my crib mattress. I was read excerpts of Zork on his lap at age six trying to help ‘figure things out’ and ‘shown off’ at the comic book story every week where I was gifted an Archie (preferably Betty & Veronica or a Jughead <—*girlcrush*).

It was probably around the age of 8 or so when the day-glo 80's were beginning to turn flannel that I set foot in my first game store. As Kiddie City was to me, a magical place with that distinct smell of 'toy', this was 'Daddy's Toy Store' that much was obvious crossing the threshold. This was a place of wonder – of mysterious boxes and baggies and magazines with dragons, dragons, dragons on the covers.

I had absolutely no idea what was going on – but I just knew it was something special. It didn't smell of 'toy', but it had a scent almost like 'bookstore' – the smell I came to learn as 'game'. 🙂 It was probably just the local Allied Hobbies before they sadly went ‘Train’ but it was mysterious and magical back then. I remember the owner digging up a Dum-dum lollipop (which immediately won me over for life) as my Daddy glee-faced over whatever Steve Jackson had crammed into a spare Beta Max cart box. (Probably something Car Wars – I inherited a lot of Car Wars in college – the paper map and cardboard flats version – not that sacrilegious Matchbox version! BLECH)

That was my first game store memory and the start of what became an every two week ritual of childhood. A visit to Daddy’s Toy Store, a lollipop, and glimpses of things gamer and mysterious.

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