Thoughtcast – The Untimely Death of the FLGS?

Today, I am going to be very frank with the future of the ‘Friendly Local Game Store’.  FLGS all across the country are closing.

Why is that happening?

Players are buying their product elsewhere.

When I started playing CCG’s in the mid-90’s, there wasn’t any online options.  You couldn’t go to a big box store like Wal-Mart, Target or Costco and pick up Magic or Pokemon cards.

Today, you can find just about anything on the internet, particularly at places like Amazon.  Big box stores are not only carrying popular brands like Magic, they are now carrying board games that we used to find only at game stores.

While these options are great for people who live in remote areas where there isn’t a FLGS and for those who would have to drive an hour or more to a FLGS, this is BAD for the small, independently owned and operated FLGS. They cannot complete with large entities because they offer a cheaper price on product and a convenient way to buy it.

Players are selling their cards, decks, etc. elsewhere

While this did happen back in the day, it is much more prevalent now with almost everyone having an online store.  The most egregious mistakes are selling to large online retailers like Cool Stuff Etc, ChannelFireball, ABU, Card Kingdom, etc and not selling cards back to the local stores.

Why does this hurt your FLGS?

If your store doesn’t have popular cards that players need, then the players will either:

  • Go online and buy what they need OR
  • Find a store that carries what they need

Most players these days use the convenience of the internet to find the cards they need at the cheapest price.  They think about nothing else.

Players are not going to their local events

Image of Game Night Games store, Salt Lake UT

I’ve noticed this recently around our area.  Players are either choosing to go to non-PTQ, non-GP events out of town rather than attend local events.  We have heard various reasons like cheaper entry fees or better prize support.  This causes events not to fire, which can lower a store’s standing with a company like Wizards of the Coast.  For not Magic games, I know that prize kits for other company’s cost money.  If events don’t fire, the shop is out even more money.

Big Box Giants and Online Retailers are destroying Small Businesses

This isn’t just a problem that is happening for game stores.  All of these are huge problems for small businesses.  People are CHOOSING to use big businesses like Amazon, Massdrop, Wal-Mart, etc to get what they want for the cheapest price.

Guess what happens when we choose that option?

We destroy the very thing we love the most: our own friendly local game store.

I live in a town of 19K people.  I’ve seen 6 FLGS open at different times over the past 22 years.  One closed, then another opened, then closed, etc.  The first 4 were open during times when the internet was in its infancy.  Online shopping wasn’t a thing.

Today we are faced with it happening again.  My local gaming community could see another FLGS close.

It is time for a change

Each of us is guilty of doing each of these in our own way.

We ALL have to make a pledge, here and now, to support our local game stores more.

Could the large gaming companies do more support FLGS instead of mass retails?  Sure, they could.  Here in the US at least, we live in a capitalist society.  If you want a large company to change its policies or marketing strategy, you have to make them feel it in the wallet.  You have to send them a message:

  • If you have a FLGS, support them first.
  • DO NOT buy product from big box stores or online UNLESS you don’t have a FLGS close by.
  • When you do buy product online, buy it from an independently owned game stores and NOT places like Amazon or Massdrop.  Many small business have online web sites that you can order from.
  • DO NOT sell your cards or collection to large online business like Star City Games, Channel Fireball, Cool Stuff Inc IF you have a FLGS that you can sell it to instead.

It is up to US to fix this problem.  Take the pledge today and #SaveYourFLGS.

Yoritomo Arashi

A member of the Mantis Clan, Yoritomo Arashi has been masterful at gathering information for the Silken Sect. The master of information founded The Kolat Informant blog in March of 2011 and The Oni's Eye Podcast in October 2013.