Thursday, 5 April 2012

Death of a gamestore

Well, I found out some kinda shite news recently.

Wargames supply, our local friendly gaming store is shutting its doors. I spent many an hour in there over the years and many a dollar.... but I do feel partially responsible for it failing.

Why? Because I stopped shopping there and encouraged others to do the same. Well, I still purchased some small items... paints and modelling gear.... but I stopped buying games and models a while back.

It had nothing to do with the staff or the products. In fact I would like to put out a commendation to the various staff members who have been through that place over the years. The laconic former manager, The young guy who didn't turn up on time but was interesting to talk to, She who hugs (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) , the long haired chap who occasionally wore chain mail and skirts and finally a special mention for the current store "manager" who is best gamestore staff member i've dealt with over the years.

It was all about price, and this particular brick and mortar store couldn't compete with online resellers. A store these days needs to be very agile and very savvy with its purchasing to stay alive. And, after spending hundreds of hours in the store I never once saw the owner (who did the purchasing).

So what does this mean for gaming in Wellington? Well if you are a GW fan we still have the local store for that (and only that). The other 99% of games will no longer have local store support. This means clubs will have to do more, especially about getting in new players. It also means that players will have to look online for their community as well as their products.

Is a store essential for a hobby to grow? I don't know, especially these days with the internet. Communities are more flexible, more fluid than they once were. Small pockets of gamers will continue to pop up and intersect, but I don't know. I met our local press ganger in the store one lunch time... without that chance meeting I may not have got into Warmachine.

Perhaps the game store business model is unsustainable in the face of the range of products available online from reliable distributors. Online shopping is no longer the wild west and there are many reputable sites to purchase stuff from.

I also read that GW stores lose money constantly, but they keep them open to promote the brand and the hobby and make up the difference in licensing games and mail order. As an organization they turn a profit and view the store loses as a necessary expense to promote the brand and create new customers. This is a tactic that obviously cannot work for a sole operator single store.

I don't know what the future holds for games store, but I do want them to stay around. I don't mind paying a little more for local service, but when it costs double.... well.... that's  when stores fail. 

If you are in Wellington and do want to buy games stuff from an NZ company, there is still Mark One  in Hamilton. Some of us don't have credit cards and can't order online. Chris at Mark One does free delivery nationwide, i've never had any problems and always get good service.

Also, shopping at Mark One doesn't cost double the price of online resellers.

I also hear good things about Jambo in Napier from some gamers I met from that neck of the woods.

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