Posted Sunday, 13-Sep-2015
Is the rise of online sellers going to destroy the friendly local games store?
The friendly local games store (FLGS) is a pillar of the board gaming community, for decades providing a place to meet other gamers and discover new games. It’s the home of Risk marathons and Android: Netrunner tournaments, where you can browse the latest Carcassonne expansions or try something completely new.
Now the rise of online sellers threatens to undermine the business that keeps these shops afloat. So is the FLGS dead in the water?
The FLGS has long held a unique place in the heart of gamers. But that doesn’t mean that it’s unique in facing a challenge from online retailers. Changes in the book market can tell us a lot about the future of the FLGS, and about how stores might survive.
Book stores started in a different position from FLGS. They had a much larger audience, and were already dominated by big chains before internet sellers came along. They’ve also faced even more challenging changes, with not just electronic sellers but also electronic books syphoning off customers.
Despite the challenges, book stores are surviving, and independent ones are even springing up in new places. How?
The answer is that they provide something online sellers can’t – a sense of community. By running events, adding cafes and providing insight into the books they sell, the better sellers have become community hubs while the big chains and their anonymous warehouse outlets have collapsed.
The same approach will probably be the salvation of the FLGS. By providing a community hub, and selling to people who’ve come in to share the venue, the FLGS can fill a completely different niche from online sellers. The result is something that not only survives but becomes better.
The UK’s North West Gaming Centre is a great example of this. A small wargaming shop in the centre of Stockport relocated to a refurbished factory building, adding a café and a huge space for tournaments. Membership fees, event charges and the café help fill the gap in games sales, accompanied by impulse purchases from people travelling from all over the country to play in events.
The FLGS has an edge over book stores, as many have long been venues for events as well as sales spaces. Far from killing the FLGS, the internet may provide a rich recruitment ground for those that adapt, becoming not just shops but modern club houses.
The future is bright, if challenging, for the FLGS.
To find your FLGS, check out BoardGameGeek’s comprehensive list here.
Published by BoardGamePrices.com