When Good Game Stores Go Good - originally written 3/16/06

I don't know what it is, but part of the appeal of going into a game store is going somewhere that's kind of a not a bad place to be but not a real nice one either.

My local game store (I say local when it was a good 40 minute drive with no traffic) moved from the location where I first discovered it. It used to be in this run down strip mall next to a Piggly Wiggly or Save Rite or some other kind of discount grocery store. It actually didn’t look like the safest place to be after dark either. You would walk in and it was kind of dingy. The carpet was dirty. The walls still had tape on them where various posters and announcements had previously occupied space. You could hear the cacophony of various games going on in the gaming area. A Magic game here, Role Playing there and always some kind of Warhammer something or other going on. Basically it was a place where a good deal many people would not feel that comfortable unless you were "in the know" or part of the culture.

I liked it. I liked it a lot. A friend of mine and I used to spend our lunch hour (or two) driving up there and walking around. I enjoyed the dinginess, the musty smell and even the sights and sounds of some of the unkempt patrons that were regulars there. I would look forward to my monthly trip out there. I would spend the better part of two hours walking around the large sales floor. I would start at the board games. Not the Euro games but the WAR games. The Euros were on the other side of the war game shelf. Each time I was there they always had the same copies of games with an occasional new offering. After perusing the war games, just for kicks, I would make way over to see the Euro games. Upon finishing there, I walked quickly past the “Action Figures” to model ships and sci-fi models. After that it was on to military miniatures, sci-fi and RPG miniatures, Warhammer and finally a well-earned stroll down the model airplane aisle. This store had my entire hobby world all under one roof. Then it all changed.

The store moved. I can’t say I blame them. Their roof leaked and from what I could surmise, the owner of the building wasn’t too keen on fixing it up. I visited the new location a few months ago. The new location still had that new building smell, as it had not been built all that long ago. It was considerably smaller than the last location. I tried to walk around the store in the same order I had before but I couldn’t find everything at first. The appeal was waning. I took a look at once what had been a rather expansive gaming area. It was now reduced to a few rooms with very little open space. I had heard that you even had to sign up for gaming time although I never confirmed that to be true. My world had been crushed. I no longer felt that urge to spend hours at a time there. I no longer felt like the place was kind of an oddity. I didn’t even buy anything.

I’m saddened that my favorite game store lost its appeal. For me, going out there was one of the few simple pleasures I allowed myself to indulge. It’s still the same owners and the same stuff from the old location but I’m afraid it will have to exist without me. I can’t see myself making a special trip like I used too. It’s still a good ways away and not real convenient. If I happen to be in the area for another reason, I would probably drop in. But for now, I shan’t darken the door.

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