What I saw at the local game store tonight....

I'm traveling out of town for work, and so naturally I checked out a local game shop for some evening entertainment. I'd rather hang there, than in my hotel room. 

They had snacks, fun decor, calendar showing weekly events,  etc. They had the typical MTG posters, minis paints, accessories, dice, etc. Good board game retail section up front in the windows, as well as in the back. Great selection of up-to-date boardgames to buy. Decent selection of board games to try out for free. They even had a board game 'rental' program - you can pay 10% of any game's MSRP to 'rent' and take it home for 3 days. If you bring it back in good condition, they add it to their 'try out for free' library, or you can buy it from them at an additional discount. 

But what struck me most were the people:

- Probably 30-35 gamers scattered across nearly a dozen tables. 

- A man and woman well into their 60s playing MtG, sweetly talking about how they needed to finish to get home in time for their curfew. 

- A table full of transgender women playing DnD.

- A group of guys thick in the middle of a Gloomhaven night, with probably a 30-year age difference between the oldest and youngest. 

- Guys playing Star Wars, learning rules for new games, or browsing through the game libraries. 

- Every skin color, race, body type, gender, and age you could imagine were there. And none of it mattered. Everyone felt welcomed and chill. 

It was a good place to be. Here's to hoping that such oases of culture can continue to spread. 

Keep being awesome, people -- and go light the dark. 

Like| 15 comments | report | subscribe

Please log in or make an account to post a comment.

28 months ago

The renting model described here is what first got my wife and I into board gaming a couple of years ago. We have would have never discovered pandemic, forbidden dessert, or the grizzled if it weren't for stories opening up their collections like this. Although the renting model at the store was you pay 10% for each day you have the game and when you returned the game, the money you spent could be put towards any purchase within the store. 

28 months ago

A new shop recently opened here (Minneapolis) and it's the first one I've seen in the area that does rental. They have a system where you pay 20% for your first rental, but any rental after that is 10%. Then you keep the game for 3 days (days they're closed don't count) and at the end you can use the money you spent on the rental towards a new copy of the game. They also take trade-ins which are very nice. It's become my go to shop. It's small, the owners are very nice and helpful and just all around a great place.

Owner28 months ago

That sounds like such a cool way to try games out! I wish a store had that system near me.

Owner28 months ago

Sounds like quite the haven!

28 months ago

I think more and more, because of the popularity of Amazon and other online sites, game stores are focusing more and more on community building and being a place fore people to come and have fun (almost like what old arcade places used to be: just with board games?!?!) instead of getting the latest and greatest games on the shelves.

is that just me?

28 months ago

EDIT: The shop was Isle of Gamers in Sunnyvale, CA

28 months ago

Might be off topic but what I saw at my FLGS was a closing sign. My local store closed and I dont have any stores nearby to play/shop at :(. What we need are more stores for people to go to :)

28 months ago

yah that's a bummer. It's a hard thing to keep alive and thriving. 

28 months ago

especially with Amazon around. To be fair though most game stores can't complete with Amazon. Which is a real shame.

28 months ago


I was curious how this shop's prices compared, and it seems like they priced their board games to match Amazon (and probably charged a bit more on other stuff...like accessories.)

So they had a couple of games I was wanting to get (Grimm Forest and one of the Unlock! series), and since they matched Amazon's prices, it was a no-brainer for me to snag it and help support them. 

28 months ago

yeah I always thought about opening a board game cafe where I would have a library of a few games. Open play space and games competitively priced and maybe a bar/food court of NOT overly priced food. Because I hate when places charge such high margins on food/drink.

28 months ago

Yup...but, they have to make their money somewhere. And in a retail setting, one of your key performance indicators will be $ generated per customer / hour, and you'll be constrained by how many customers can your space hold. 

If you have a lot of people taking up all the table space, for several hours, and not making a lot of money (buying a single thing and just camping out) then you won't survive. 

So your strategy has to have multiple legs:

- If short visit, you want high sales (e.g., walk in customers, browse, buy 1 or 2 games...NOT just a candy bar)

- If a medium or long visit, you want small repeated sales (e.g., entrance fees, cover charge, snacks, drinks,). 

So some shops are designed as a **Game Store** first, that just happens to have food. (e.g., lots of games of all types, tons of accessories, typical gamers...

And recently we've seen a growth of shops designed as **Pubs / Cafes / Gathering Places** first, that just happen to have games for you to use. (e.g., smaller selection of retail games, fewer minis and accessories, game library mostly Party Games)

The type of game shop you open will largely be dependent on your market and location and customer base. Not every area can support a game shop of each type. It's a tough business. 

28 months ago

Well ideally I would like to open a restaurant style place (as far as size goes) where you can come to eat with a back room for gaming. Sort of dinner and a game as opposed to dinner and a movie. You could bring your own game and rent out a table (and maybe get a discount on your meal or gaming accessories). I have a bunch of ideas floating around. As they say in business location, location, location (and then what they dont say...capital...lol)

28 months ago

Check out this place:


It's always packed (of course, it really helps that it's in a huge college town, and the local demographics are tilted heavily towards this type of activity...)

28 months ago

Sounds like the comic shop I used to go to before Diamond started shorting everyone on deliveries. It was right across the street from one of the community colleges though so might have been why there was a larger crowd.