Board Game Soapbox: Goodbye, FLGS

COVID has provided many lessons...and in Justin's opinion, one of those lessons is that shopping at your friendly local game store is a thing of the past.

I’ve been in the hobby for about 12 years. My gateway game was The Settlers of Catan (like many others), but on the night that changed my gaming life forever, I actually played Catan’s Cities & Knights expansion, not just base Catan.

I loved it. I played at a friend’s house in Chicago while traveling, and I could see why others thought that Cities & Knights was the right addition to help counter a player who had taken a substantial lead. I loved rolling dice, I loved the moment each time someone rolled a seven and robbed someone else at the table, and I loved all the over-the-table trading talk as we each tried to acquire the resources we each needed to win.

When I returned home to the Washington, DC area, I knew I had to own a copy of the game. Searching for game and hobby stores in the late aughts wasn’t easy, but I found a couple of spots that fit: one was a comic book store, and one was a store that felt like it specialized in crafts and miniatures but also sold gateway-style games (and at the time, I don’t remember them being called “gateway games” anyway).

At each store I visited, I ran to the aisle that had games like Catan and then saw the prices:

Exorbitant. Ridiculous, even. $60 for a board game? This can’t be right. I remember that the base game had little wooden pieces, sticks for roads basically, with cards that were fine but nothing that would warrant that kind of price.

But in the late aughts, there was no Game Nerdz, no Tabletop Merchant, no hot deals on the internet (at least, that I knew about). And at this point, you couldn’t go just anywhere to find games like Race for the Galaxy, released in 2007; it was very hard to find physical locations that sold some of these games.

Fast forward to the present day, and we are presented with a different kind of problem: most friendly local game stores (or FLGS, for short) still believe it really IS that hard to find games, and charge prices that are ridiculously out of line because consumers have discovered something called…the internet.

This article contains a rather polarizing viewpoint. For an alternate take, read about how one man found community at his friendly local game store.

The shopping experience, in the old days

I’m in my mid-40s; I grew up going to stores and holding products in my hand as I weighed the decision to buy them. As a long-time console gamer I have lots of memories of waiting outside of my local GameStop to buy the newest Call of Duty, or new console, or whatever hot item was coming out soon. I have dozens of stories I can share about experiences where I waited outside to see a movie on opening day, or to get tickets to a concert, or to buy almost anything at a Best Buy on Black Friday to get a doorbuster deal.

So, when it comes to board games, I like to go to the store and buy them—or at least, I did. Walking into a local store, browsing the products, flipping the boxes over to read the description on the back and see the pieces (oh, the info on how many bits and pieces! Yes, I want to know how many cards are in the box! Yes, I want to see how many meeples I’m going to get!). I love it.

And I really love talking to the staff, to discover new games that are recommended based on what other games I like to play. Like any good steward of the hobby, many of the stores I have visited featured staff who recommended games which are still in my collection today; for a while, I was sure it would be cool to work in an FLGS, at least until I learned that you don’t always have time to play games all day.

The best stores I have visited have a mix of retail space and tables for play in the evenings or on weekends, be it theme nights for something like Magic: The Gathering or One Night Werewolf or just open gaming. That way, I can count on my store for more than just games— community building, particularly in a new city, is vital for gamers to connect and talk shop while debating the quality of whatever games are hot at the moment.

But as I got older, I often wondered: how do these places make money? They certainly don’t make money on me when I drop in with my own games and play with friends at their tables; they don’t (usually) sell concessions, and many of them don’t have a walk-in fee. Even if they do charge a walk-in fee (at $5 or maybe $10 per visit), that’s still only a few hundred dollars once a week at most places I’ve visited for open gaming.

In speaking with other friends who love games, I am surprised how often I hear that they buy many, if not most of their games, in two places: at their FLGS, and at conventions. (This was true five years ago, but that has changed, which we will get to in a moment.) And to double down on this point, these same friends did not seem to mind that they were paying as much as the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (or MSRP, for short) for each game, sometimes more.

(A quick note about conventions: I truly believe the practice of charging $5-$15 more than the list price of a game at conventions is not only insulting, but predatory. After my first Gen Con, where I bought six games and then found four of them on each publisher’s website THE WEEK AFTERWARDS for less than what I paid, I decided I would never buy a game at a convention again. I will happily give you money, but to charge $70 for a $55 game with one or two promo cards at a convention means I can get it shipped to my house and not carry it around a convention hall for less than I paid in Indy!!)

A few years ago at a game night in Chicago, my gaming group began to debate the worth of supporting our respective FLGS community.  While my vote was to only buy games on the ‘net, I certainly see the side that supports keeping stores like this in business. It’s great to have places to physically hold games in your hands. In some stores, demo copies are around to try out new games. The knowledge many staffers have about the hobby is often worth seeking out before making a buying decision.

Right up until COVID, I really tried to balance where I spent my money. As someone who buys 12-15 new games per year, plus a few on the secondary market, I would still buy a few games at my FLGS each year. I would spread my online purchases across a few different sites: Amazon, plus sites like CoolStuffInc or other places where I could find a deal. And while I don’t buy games from major publishers at conventions any more, I will buy from retailers at conventions who are selling older games at a discount because I know those prices are a savings over what I can find elsewhere.

Then COVID hit. And, not only did I really dig into reading more review sites like Meeple Mountain, but I also really invested in price shopping games before making buying decisions, and it’s now more clear than ever:

The internet has won…in a landslide.

The data and the final decision

Sometimes, I would visit my FLGS only to look at new games, then go online to see how much cheaper they would be elsewhere. The results weren’t shocking; they simply cemented the point that I can’t in good conscience support a store that charges 20-30% more than what I would pay online.

A few examples:

  • The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine:
    • FLGS: $15
    • Online:  $11 (27% less)
  • Praga Caput Regni:
    • FLGS:  $75
    • Online:  $52 (31% less)
  • Terraforming Mars:
    • FLGS: $70
    • Online: $49 (30% less)

You could play this game forever, right? We are talking markups so consistent that I would be able to buy a few extra games with all of the money I save. (Or buy my two kids something nice for themselves every so often. But let’s focus on me for the moment.)

At many online retailers, shipping is pretty fair ($5-$7), or outright free if you buy on Amazon or hit a minimum buying threshold on many sites like CSI or Game Nerdz. So, for about $55, I can get Terraforming Mars delivered to my house for less than I would pay to drive to the FLGS, pay for parking, buy the game (and those prices above are BEFORE taxes), and drive back home.

There was a sale on the up-and-coming online retailer Tabletop Merchant in late March of this year that featured games by Vital Lacerda for 35-45% off of the already-low Tabletop Merchant prices. This meant you could get a copy of Vinhos Deluxe for just $63. I’ve seen Vinhos Deluxe go for double that price on many sites over the years. These types of flash sales happen all the time now.

It’s a tough racket to be in the brick-and-mortar business of running a game store nowadays, especially during COVID. I can only imagine. But the economics are clear; I can only imagine the hit stores must be taking as each week’s hot new titles arrive and take all of a buyer’s budget before they even go to browse the wares at a physical store. While many publishers offer retailer discounts through crowdsourcing platforms, I can’t tell if it will be enough to drive traffic to physical stores over time.

It’s tough, but not tough for the consumer. To all the stores I’ve supported over the years, goodbye. We had a good run. I’ll still show up for game nights at a board game café here and there, and if I find a store with a reliable used game selection, I could see myself returning to local game stores occasionally, if there are any left in the next five years. But in terms of buying games, the internet owns me!!

About the author

Justin Bell

Love my family, love games, love food, love naps. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice!


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  • Thanks, Justin, for the interesting article. I’m with you – most of my game purchases are online. For the reasons you stated. That said, I still try to buy a few games each year from my FLGS. I’m relatively new to the hobby (since 2019) and I got into it by quite randomly wandering into my FLGS to buy Pokemon cards for my two young boys (at the time, ages 5 and 8). My youngest’s birthday was coming up so I decided to get him a gift, saw the big Catan section (I had never heard of the game) and settled on Catan Junior. That was my gateway game! But game nights have become a weekly tradition with my family and I’ve really gotten hooked on the hobby. So while I can’t afford to buy a bunch of games at the FLGS given the price, it’s a special place for me and I really want to support it for as long as I can.

    • Thanks for the note John! I understand the reasons to continue supporting your local store and won’t argue with any of them. And I agree with you on Catan Junior; my kids both love it and it has opened up new gaming possibilities as a family!

  • All you proved is that you are not the FLGS’ target audience. You don’t want to buy there anymore so you write an article bashing store pricing? Seriously, grow up. Not everyone’s basis of VALUE is dependent on getting the lowest price.
    Online doesn’t provide you a clean place to play. Online doesn’t provide you clean restrooms. Online doesn’t provide events. All that stuff costs money – and retail has some of the lowest margins around. Maybe take a business or economics course before you spout this tripe.
    But still, you’ll miss the point – without the hobby games stores, fewer publishers would have an outlet for their games, meaning fewer games published, meaning Amazon, Walmart, and Target determine is worthy of being played, not you. But you just keep on Min-Maxing, the hobby will be fine without you.

    • Meanwhile, I’m over here wishing that more publishers would have an option to sell direct with a higher margin going to the game designer. This industry rakes game designers over the coals unless you’re one of the few elite ones. Game designers getting $1 of a retail priced $40 game is bonkers.

  • I can’t agree with anything in this piece. FLGS’s are the centers of the gaming community, especially ones that allow open gaming. Through my FLGS I’ve met many fellow hobbyists for pick-up games of Warhammer and it has provided a space to facilitate gaming and hobbying, without it, it would be me and a couple close friends playing at our respective homes, which is great, but it would deny me a richness of experience that the broader hobby community has to offer that can be best facilitated by meeting at our FLGS.
    COVID has only increased my support of my local FLGS, during the opening stages during the first uncertain lockdown, I bought a large gift certificate to help ensure that that uncertain March would be a little more stable for the owners, whom I’ve been a customer with since I was a child. All with the aim that when in person gaming was able to be safely conducted, there would be a place to do so.
    And I’d like to ask you something, in your piece you write:
    “But as I got older, I often wondered: how do these places make money? They certainly don’t make money on me when I drop in with my own games and play with friends at their tables; they don’t (usually) sell concessions, and many of them don’t have a walk-in fee. Even if they do charge a walk-in fee (at $5 or maybe $10 per visit), that’s still only a few hundred dollars once a week at most places I’ve visited for open gaming.”
    Were you buying board games online and then dropping in to your FLGS for open gaming?
    I live by one FLGS rule: “Pay where you play.” I’ve visited a lot of Games Workshops through my travels, but I’ve only ever bought product from them that I couldn’t by at my FLGS, because Games Workshop is getting my money, but so will my local community, and I can’t imagine Amazon needs anymore money. Difference is that I can’t play at those out of town GW’s or at an Amazon warehouse, but I can at my FLGS.

    Sometimes if you want to build a more vibrant hobby community, it takes a little investment.

  • Dear Justin
    Thank you for your words. Unfortunately I disagree with you. I think you are right in one point, I see the concept of the store that sells is going away over time but I think that solutions that have both gaming and sell games like a board game café can be a solution.
    Yes online retailers are cheaper than brick and mortar stores of course they are. They don’t need to have a store location, located in a prime spot where lots of people walk bye, they also don’t need educated and trained staff that can recommend games to new clients and people who are not in the hobby. I also buy games online mostly on Kickstarter now and still support a few FLGS and I think they are vital for this hobby to flourish as it did in the last few years. People who know exactly what they are looking for and know where to get informed about games because they already are deep in the hobby they probably don’t need FLGS to buy games although I value the opinion of some shop owners quite a lot. But people who are new in the hobby and might not know the online channels to get informed about games or are discouraged by the sheer amount of information or the looks of BGG (although it got slightly better over the years) they need FLGS to help them get into the hobby and if we do not get more and more new people the industry could see a down turn or mostly like Jon said smaller companies don’t get a chance to get shelf space because the giant retailers buy just the same game monopoly, scrabble and jenga or maybe a Catan if lucky. So yes FLGS are more expensive but they offer so much more than just the game and that is why it makes sense to buy there. Believe me we all will lose out if they are not here anymore. I hope you can look at this from another point of view than just the cost angle because cheaper is not always better!

    And yeah probably a lot of shops that do not adapt to new things like also have an online shop, offer space to play games (and definitely charge for it, especially for people who do not buy games there!!) and maybe even have a small caffe area and offer not just the sales experience but something completely different ab oasis to let regular life behind and yes buying games at the same time.

  • I’m stunned at this entire post. Literally, my jaw fell open by the third paragraph. I started writing a really reactionary post, but I took a few deep breaths and I’m starting over. Please allow me to share my perspective. I’ve gamed my whole life. I started working at an FLGS in 2014. I moved on to working with publishers directly in 2016 on the distributor end of things. I’m working on publishing my first game now.

    Having worked at all levels of this business I can tell you that if everyone took your advice, if everyone bought their games at Game Nerdz, or whatever bargain basement online seller is selling at $1 over wholesale this week, this industry would collapse in on itself like a black hole. That’s because, whether you realize it or not, the selling and buying practices you’re promoting are parasitic in nature. They circumvent an entire section of the gaming eco system in order to cut those prices.

    I’m not suggesting that online sellers don’t have place in the market. They do. But unlike many other industries, board games are social in nature and are produced by very small publishers (in comparison to other industries). These publishers rely on the word of mouth and brand building that FLGS’s supply in a way that nothing else does, with the exception of maybe game conventions – and I’ll come back around to those in minute.

    You name dropped a number of games in your article. Did you learn about The Crew or Terraforming Mars because they were listed on Game Nerdz? I doubt it. Those games built up a reputation within our hobby and the foundation for that reputation is one built on socializing. I’d be willing to bet that most circles of gamers out there have a game in their group that they all love but isn’t popular elsewhere (for us it’s Crisis by Ludicreations, I freaking love that game). If we just play games that come from our little circle, we eventually reach a dead end. Reviewers, conventions, and game stores create a crucial environment for games to find new gamers, to grow. Publishers need players to interact with each other and spread their enjoyment. If people bought every copy of Terraforming Mars at $49 online, not only would Terraforming Mars not be the hit that it is right now, I doubt you would have even heard of it. You know how I know? Because I can go to any online game store and find a ton of titles I’ve never heard of at huge discounts.

    So, the relationship you’re promoting takes out a crucial marketing element, paving the way for Game Nerdz to make a few dollars so you can save a few. Do you know people at these online shops? Have they ever done anything for the game industry? Are they there to support publishers or gamers? Do they help set up organized play or have release events or host learn to play gatherings? Do they livestream interviews with designers? Host conventions?

    Going back to conventions, most publishers attending shows aren’t getting rich. In fact, most are losing money. If someone marks up something at a con, it’s often because they’re trying desperately to break even. Sure, there are a number of big game companies out there that have no problem paying their rent, but the vast majority are just trying to get by. And because they find a way to get by, they are able to find ways to bring games like Terraforming Mars over to the states and produce them in enough quantities that discounters can take advantage.
    You might be right. This might be the death knell, for local game stores. Maybe Covid will just be too much. And certainly, the old school hobby stores I grew up in need to go away. They were usually smelly, unkempt pits of misogyny and gatekeeping. But there are a TON of game stores out there right now doing amazing things and providing something you need way more than games, something you can’t buy at Game Nerdz: Players. FLGS’s create gamers. And if they go away, we’ll lose games and we’ll lose gamers.
    I happily buy from my FLGS every chance I get (Meeples Games in West Seattle represent!). Because I want that store to thrive, to bring new people into the hobby, to help foster the next set of Fryx Brothers or the next Vladimír Suchý. What sucks is that my purchases have to be a protest against yours.

  • I posted this as a reddit comment but thought I should post here too…

    What an entitled opinion to have. Stores are being priced out of the market by cut price online retailers and counterfeiters, and your response is “they charge more than the people that aren’t competing on the same field”. I don’t want to sound too elitist here (and I get that, being a store owner, I have a dog in the fight against this entitled drivel) but no one OWES you access to your hobby. Cant pay the price of entry? Then maybe the problem isn’t that your hobby is too expensive, it’s that you’re not earning enough to afford it your spare time.

    So rather than writing this absolute turd of an opinion, maybe you should turn your attention to ensuring a fair wage for your community. After all, the problem that should be highlighted here isn’t that games are too expensive, it’s that Americans don’t earn enough to pay for their hobbies. Australians do, and shops here are able to compete with the online retailers in our country because the population can afford it and the prices are a true reflection of what it costs, meaning when businesses try to discount, they have to sacrifice quality of service, or quantity of held product (which leads to them lying about what they have in stock, and then getting caught out, hurting their reputation)

  • Sounds like you haven’t had problems with counterfeit games on Amazon yet, or if you have the quality isn’t important to you. You’re right that the Manufacturers Suggest Retail Price is more than some online retailers charge, and that they’re scraping by on a smaller margin than places with no physical presence.

    How you spend your money is up to you, but when small businesses are hurting it seems disingenuous to take advantage of their service (Game nights, etc) without supporting them.

  • holy hells, i haven’t seen that much privilege on a single page in a while.

    Your profile screams ‘upper middle class’ at us. You are quite proud of it.

    And you’re going to lambast the prices of games that you can clearly afford with no problem? You clearly state you don’t know how they make money and yet, it doesn’t seem like you’ve talked to a single FLGS to figure it out? I guess that’s why this is an opinion piece, facts aren’t necessary.

    in reality, most games are underpriced, just like video games. The MSRP represents a realistic price based on the production of the game – including paying people who were involved in making it. You are literally making a case for the devaluation of the entire industry so you can save a few bucks? You probably bring your own popcorn to movie theatres too.

    If you view an FLGS as nothing but a place to walk into, ignore everything, buy a game you know everything about already and leave, sure, they probably have nothing of value for you. The Gaming Goat was specifically made for those like you.
    But most FLGS offer knowledge, community and access that online sites or discount stores cannot give you. once i realized my FLGS had knowledgeable employees and who actually play and care about games, i found that my game choices got so much better. You really should try talking to them about the games you like. Don’t just talk AT them and abuse them with your knowledge. Get to know what they play, its worth the time, you’ll find they are much better than random reviews spread all over the internet by people you have no connection to.

  • It’s fine. Game stores have a value proposition. You don’t align with it. It just means you are not their customer. You think you might be their customer, but it just doesn’t add up, and because the typical game store is so accommodating to freeloaders (those who play and don’t buy at that store), they kind of lead you on. It’s a tremendous cost to provide this service and many stores will be re-evaluating it on the other side of this crisis.

    Because you can’t see the value does not mean it isn’t there. You could buy games on the Internet cheaper for the last 25 years. That’s nothing new. The threat to the retail trade is baked in. They started their businesses knowing this. The Internet didn’t appear in front of them with their carefully crafted business model like some fantasy monster. It always existed and many leverage it, often in ways invisible to customers.

    Let me tell you a secret. Most people don’t want to buy online. Humans are social animals. Most people crave human contact and re-assurance when they want to buy a thing. Most people want an excuse to buy at their local store, even if it seems to be against their own financial interests. They will even explain it that way to the store owner. I could buy this cheaper online, but here I am. Most people have no idea why they buy and consume.

  • I have the exact opposite opinion of Justin.

    I know my FLGS’s prices are higher, but I shop there for 95% of my hobby purchases. Excluding things that they can’t special order or don’t stock as the margins are too slim on (and the owner will tell us).

    I have made many friends over many years through FLGS in my area, and had previously gone through a bout of 4-5 years with no local store in my area under an hour drive away…. and it sucked. Not supporting your local game store = no local game store.

    While I enjoy playing games with people. I don’t want to necessarily invite people/strangers into my house to play games. And for miniature games I don’t have all of the room or terrain avalible that the store has.

    I don’t have the ability to host events, tournaments, pre-release, painting competitions, draft, or try out new games and meet new people to play those games with. Or be able to drop in at anytime and be able to find something to play with people.

    My local store has sales for holidays, gives discounts on larger orders, and on certain product lines does 10% off MSRP all day to try and stay competitive.

    You talk about bringing your games in you bought online to sit and play for hours taking up space in a business that has to pay rent while spending no money. And then turn around and ask I wonder how this business can make money? This is the most ENTITLED thing I have ever heard, and I am a customer noticing this. You aren’t allowed to take your fast food into a local resteraunt, sit down to eat for 2+ hours, not tip the wait staff, and then wonder “how does this resteraunt make money?” You are the exact type of customer that doesn’t care about having a community or any of the boons that it offers. And that is okay. I can tell you the owner of your FLGS is rolling their eyes when customers like you show up.

    Most people have the common sense to pick up some odds and ends or a book or dice or something if they are taking up space for hours when they don’t charge an entrance fee.

    Hell I honestly probably spend less money paying more for product because I don’t feel the need to own every game or new release. Other customers buy games too and we can all play them and vise versa. While still supporting the store. Not everyone needs a copy of twilight imperium but we can still play it if someone brings it in.

    A lot of the people essentially take turns buying games, and have the common sense to spend a little money when there if not making a larger purchase. If you can’t afford $10-15 to be entertained all day, you can’t afford to be entertained all day…

  • Two years ago I blogged this:
    I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee shortly before the rise of the internet. If there wasn’t a commercial on TV, or catalog in the mail, or a store you saw in the mall or just by driving around you didn’t know it was there. There was the Yellow Pages, but I didn’t know game stores were even a thing to look them up. I didn’t know GenCon not only existed, but was right in my home town.

    At the time my gaming experience was Axis&Allies and AD&D books purchased from B Daltons. That finally changed after reading Sunday comics and seeing an article about the upcoming GenCon. I got dropped off for the day with a $5 observer pass and was blown away. Then my family moved. The smaller city we moved to had a couple unenthusiastic comic and game shops, but didn’t really carry much more than the local book store. My connection to gaming remained an annual pilgrimage to GenCon, and a subscription to Dragon magazine.

    The rise of the internet is what really changed that, and the arrival of CCG’s seemed to really change the game stores. So I never got to experience a real FLGS in the pre-internet era. My understanding of them comes from things I’ve read about, and just assumptions. It seems the business strategy was to just encourage gaming in general, if there was space to host it. Apparently a big public bulletin board would have been common, and people could offer any gaming experiences or events they wanted to. It sounded like a small, continuous game convention.

    Stores nowadays offer gaming space if they can, but I’ve never seen a bulletin board at one or a system for running your own events, even via a store website. The stores run the events now, either for a profit or to mainly encourage sales of collectible games. What I see are events being run by the stores daily; about 66% CCG’s or similar, about 33% RPG’s (but only whatever the three most popular systems are at the time), and occasionally 1% everything else.

    If CCG’s and D&D/Pathfinder are your thing (and you’re willing to spend a little for the events) this isn’t a bad thing. Maybe you could consider this a Pareto approach to gaming customers, since those events will appeal to about 80% of gamers. And the store is making money off all these events, instead of just encouraging a general interest in gaming.

    However these aren’t my primary interests in gaming. And even if they were more of my focus, the store events seem more like free hotdog day at the used car lot, or a vacation that comes with a timeshare pitch, than just a gaming event. It feels like buying Freemium currency in a game that you also had to pay full price for. The subtext of contemporary game stores seems to be: you can buy games from us, but we’d rather be a CCG (and occasionally RPG) service.

    Well this isn’t the service I want. If it has to be a service, the service I want is to offer a convention type gaming environment where the players can offer and play games, rather than being funneled to the CCG’s with the highest price points. But the stores in my area seem actually hostile to game conventions in theory and in practice. There was an annual game convention in my city, but it collapsed and hasn’t existed in almost a decade. I have to go to smaller, neighboring cities and towns to find game conventions. Maybe my issue isn’t with contemporary game stores in general. Maybe it’s really with a uniquely local phenomenon that’s fostered a localized gaming dead zone.

    Either way, the few remaining advantages of local brick and mortar game stores existing continues to shrink in comparison to online game stores, live gaming events that can be found online, and even online play if you prefer. Brick and mortar stores? Bah, who needs them? I’ll be happy when they’re gone.

  • I want to start off by saying I hate meeples because painting miniatures feeds my family so I am biased when it comes to tabletop games. Gaming is gaming because of the community, not the games. Most FLGS are forced to use vendors that already have a mark up. Games like Catan are at Walmart so there is no need for me to go to my FLGS. I am there for actual tabletop games. MTG is huge all over the planet along with 40k and infinity and they are what I see played with some regularly played DnD. I never see anyone playing a cardboard game at any FLGS and I regular several in my area. I also ask my FLGS if they plan on backing kickstarters. I buy at minimum a few pots of paint or a brush each visit. I think you are trying to compare apples to oranges in your article. Your FLGS has tables because of miniature games and MTG. I personally did not feel the mark up from publishers at GenCon or Nova Open. I buy from who I wish. It’s that simple. When I want a game or a component to one, I’m buying it. It doesn’t matter who I get it from just as long as I have my sweet plastic soldiers. I do though make it a priority to support my FLGS and purchase monthly if not weekly. I do this because of the dank smell, the strange looking people clicked together around a table in the back. The dusty box that brings back memories. I support them because I am a gamer. A painter who makes his living commission painting. I have more commission by dropping of cards than I do through instagram. The FLGS support me so I support them.

  • Justin,

    Your ignorance is stunning. The purpose of a FLGS is the same as a bar. Yes, You could buy liquor at home or on the internet and drink alone or with an insular group of acquaintances but most people prefer to be social and meet new people. The FLGS serves the same purpose. You are the type of person who we talk about with disdain at the FLGS because you don’t get it. Margins on games are very small and getting smaller as the big game companies look to grow their profits at the expense of their retail partners. No game store owner is getting rich charging MSRP, they are getting by at best in most cases. Enjoy your online purchases, because you will need to play them solo. And you should get used to playing solo, because there is a growing group of gamers who refuse to play with parasites like you who do not support the FLGS system that has made the growth of this industry possible. It was individuals like you who killed the local book store and hopefully we can prevent individuals like you from doing the same to the game industry.

  • Hi, I normally don’t post on internet but I decided to make an exception after reading this post. Like many of the commenters I don’t really share this opinion for all the reasons already mentioned in the various replies. But in addition my personal experience is that covid didn’t really seem to have turned the tide for FLGSs.I live in Belgium and there is one just two blocks from my place. When the shops were allowed to be open I have never seen so big queues there as during covid. Weekdays, weekends in sunshine in rain, people queuing to buy their games. We looked at that with my wife with amazement every time we passed by. In Belgium we also have a very peculiar gaming institution, which I am not sure exists in other countries, namely ‘ludothèques’ . These are effectively board game and RPGs libraries run and subsidised by the local councils . Yes you read correctly, in Belgium part of the taxes you pay are spent on buying board games ! For a euro or two you can rent a game for a couple of weeks which is more than enough to enjoy it. So in my case I actually rarely buy games at all but rather rent them. Ludothèques also organise weekly gaming events ( currently virtual only on board game arena) and the staff there can advise you as well . They also scout the market regularly and buy new titles from time to time (mostly very good stuff) thus supporting publishers. It’s really a great thing and very popular (some of the better titles you have to book well in advance to get hold of) and cheap and (in normal times) social ! So internet, yes it’s one of sources of games if you want to buy something quickly with free delivery and at discounted price but from my personal experience I don’t really see it as replacing FLGSs or similar places where people want a richer experience than just swiping a credit card. M

  • I’d like to address what seemed to be the majority of the replies to this article.

    To everyone claiming that online retailers can charge less because they don’t have a physical presence, that’s simply untrue. Miniature Market and GameNerdz both have physical presences and guess what, if you are lucky enough to live close enough, you can walk into that store and purchase games at the same price that you do online. This alone honestly renders 70 to 80% of the comments mute. They don’t charge less because they don’t have a store, they charge less because they aren’t as greedy and they understand that selling 10 games with a 1$ margin nets you 10$, selling 0 games with a 30$ margin nets you 0$. It’s simple math.

    Secondly, something that I don’t think anyone mentioned, why does it have to be 30% off MSRP or FULL MSRP. I would absolutely love to drive to a local store and buy games there and I do value the community and convenience aspects of it but nowhere in the world it says that they absolutely have to charge full MSRP. Why not charge 20% below? On a 50$ game, 10% is still 5$. I buy 50 games a year. If the local stores around me charged 20% off MSRP I would buy literally every single game there. They would still be more expensive than Amazon but a 10% difference is not the same as a 30% difference.

    I don’t believe the point about local stores driving the conversation on boardgames is accurate. I WISH IT WAS! Unfortunately and sadly, the conversation on boardgames is driven by online reviewers, Shut up and Sit Down recommends a game and the next day the game is sold out everywhere. It’s a shame because a few reviewers that happened to gain more popularity than others single handedly influence the boardgame industry. I truly do wish that local games drove the conversation as that would create a much more democratic and organic development rather than the Dice Tower, Rahdo (granted, he likes every single game ever made, apparently) and SU&SD dictatorship as of today.

    Lastly, I think it ultimately varies based on where someone is as local stores are intrinsically local and therefore each experience is different from one another. In my specific case, the closest store to me, goes even further and essentially scalps on Kickstarter games. Despite most campaigns offering retailer discounts to help them out, my local store buys games that are sold for 150-200$ during the campaign, that are also CURRENTLY sold on the respective publishers websites for insane prices. A couple of examples. Dwellings of Eldervale, 350$ for the Legendary edition (150$) and Eclipse Second Dawn for 450$.

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