For those that are wondering, FLGS is internet speak for “Friendly Local Game Store,” and the prevailing sentiment throughout the net is that you should really do everything within your power to support them. They provide local inventory, a place to play, new faces in the community to play with, etc. There really are a variety of benefits they offer, so I can certainly see the logic in continuing to support them over online retailers.
The thing is that my “Friendly Local Gaming Stores” aren’t exactly local. In fact, they all are about 30 miles away from my house. I know that there are some people who drive hours to go play at a local shop and are appalled that I would think that 30 miles is too far to drive. The thing is that I’m lazy, and I’ve grown accustomed to playing against like-minded players. As a result, I’m really the epitome of old-dude garage-hammer players. I have a regular gaming group that meets up on a semi-weekly basis in my garage and we play. They get invited because they’re similarly minded people that I enjoy hanging out with and playing against.
As a result, I don’t go to the gaming stores. In fact, of the four stores that are in my area, I’ve only ever been to two of them (and that’s only true because they’ve been around for 30+ years)–and neither of those really focuses on the games I play routinely. They’re more focused on comics and Magic: the Gathering (which, though I buy a lot of, I very rarely ever get to play). The two stores that I have never been to are the ones that really support the 40k/GW community and routinely hold tournaments, painting workshops, etc. And though they’re not exactly my scene, I would certainly go to them–at least on some occasion–if they were closer to me.
Based upon this, and the fact that my local stores didn’t offer a discount, I wound up turning to the internet long ago. My store of choice for the past 15+ years has been The War Store. Neal and his staff have always done right by me. His prices are always reasonable, the selection is good, customer service is great, and the shipping really can’t be beat, considering how remote I am.
In many ways, I consider The War Store to be my FLGS. Except for the “Local” portion of the name, they have it nailed, so they’re really 3/4’s of the way there.
Last year, Amazon wound up giving me a free business account to buy stuff online, and I’ve wound up moving a good deal of my employer’s purchases through them. They have an unbeatable selection, hands down the best prices for almost everything, and impeccable customer service, plus with the free prime account, shipping is a non issue. In short, they provide virtually everything that the War Store does (sans GW models, which everyone knows I don’t buy a lot of), and the prices are cheaper and often quicker to ship.
So that begs the question? What level of loyalty do I owe “my FLGS?” If I can get great prices, selection, and customer service elsewhere, and they don’t provide the base benefits of community that a FLGS typically provides, do I owe them anything? (EDIT: The irony is that, since Amazon offers the ability for other sellers to list their wares on their sites, I’ve actually wound up purchasing things from The War Store through Amazon’s marketplace).
I can’t honestly say as I know the answer to that. Frankly, I find myself looking to Amazon first for purchases, and if they’re the same sort of thing that TWS sells, then I may ask Neal and his crew to price match. I wound up doing that on Black Friday–wanting some board games from Amazon, but not sure I wanted to pull the trigger. I eventually saw that Neal’s sale offered an additional 8%, so I tried to get him to price match and throw in that 8% discount, which he couldn’t do. I hemmed and hawed, and turned a “maybe” purchase from Amazon into a definite purchase through TWS because I feel they’ve earned my business over the years.
When Deathwatch Overkill came out, I found myself browsing to find someone selling just the cult models online; finding none (at least none that were reasonably priced), I saw that I could buy a boxed set on ebay for $136. Rather than pulling the trigger, I asked Neal (on a lark) if he could price match that number (noting he wasn’t listing the game at his typical 20% off cost anyway). Two days later, he came back and said he could, but I’d have to pay shipping.
Let’s recap. He’s selling at 9% off MSRP. I find someone else selling at 18% off, and ask him if he can price match. I wait a few days (during which the first guy could theoretically sell out of his product) and then hear back that I can buy it for the same price plus shipping. So I’m getting the same quality of product, but I have to do additional work, pay shipping, and inject multiple days of delay into the negotiating process.
Is it worth the hassle?
I just don’t know… I’d love to hear your take on it.