Helping Save My Local Game Shop?

by Elsacuno. Posted on Jun 30, 2020    8    44

Hi everyone. Apologies for the really long post.

I am looking for advice on how to best help my local game shop. Where I live is rural and it's the only dedicated boardgame store in an hour's drive. I am afraid it may soon close permanently and I think that would really hurt the local community.

Prior to COVID, I was speaking with the owner and they were saying how difficult business was due to shrinking margins. I can only imagine things are even more so now. They finally were able to reopen but with lots of restrictions and limited hours. No in-store events which is where they generate a lot of their income. How do you think I should go about helping to support them during this difficult time?

A friend suggested that I go purchase a lot of Magic: The Gathering. Unfortunately I don't know anything about the game. Apparently the margins are good for the store on that particular product. My friend stated that as long as I keep the boxes sealed I can easily then sell them back several years later for what I put into it. I like this idea more than buying a gift card because if the unthinkable happens and the store closes then I lose everything.

I was researching Magic but it's incredibly complex looking. There is apparently a lot of choices. Core 2021? Collector Core 2021? Jump Start? Double Masters? Double Masters VIP? I watched some YouTube videos by a gentleman named Rudy and it sounds like some of the product does well and some flops. For example, Collectors Thiros lost half of its value? What product should I be buying that is the safest?

Or is there a better way that I can help my store? I'm not sure what I would do with 10 copies of Catan though (my favorite game! :>) and who would be wanting them a few years from now. But it sounds like from YouTube that many people will be interested in the sealed Magic a few years from now or if I hold it a little longer I may be able to make a little money.

Thank you everyone for your time and thoughtful insights.



I'm not supporting any LGS that doesn't allow in store play. Not my fault they bought into the scamdemic.

> I watched some YouTube videos by a gentleman named Rudy


Beware of floppy tacos and STAY THE COURSE. Giggity? No? OK.

gronkling 1

Talk to the community and ask them what they want in a game shop.

KiwasiGames 2

So FLGSs will only survive if they can offer something that Amazon can't. FLGS will never win on pricing, range or delivery times. What they can offer is play space, community and product knowledge.

If your FLGS provides a service that's useful, then people will spend money there, just to continue the service. If the service isn't useful, it will die out.

If you want your FLGS to stay open, your best bet is to spend money there. Be honest with yourself, you are paying extra for whatever service they offer you. You aren't going to suddenly become rich off of hoarding unopened magic cards.

CleanDwarfWeed 2

Maybe they can build an open space to play games? Not sure how strict policy is where you live, but gathering outside could work? Maybe they could offer drinks and snacks, if they don't already.
But as suggested by another poster, if they don't adapt their bussines model to conditions, you can barely ro anything. Promote maybe? People have alot of free time to try and learn new things during lockdown.

Coffeedemon 2

They're a business. Either you purchase from them or they rely on governmental or bank assistance. For Christ's sake don't throw yourself down the magic the gathering money hole to keep this alive another month for "the community".

Dice_and_Dragons 2

Unfortunately one person can’t save a local game store. As others have said they need to adapt to a business model that brings customers into the store and provides people with something more than just buying games. My local store is one i never go to because of their pricing as well as the fact that they don’t have any play space or services i have so many other places i can shop that are significantly cheaper than they are

CatTaxAuditor 2

Sealed Magic product very rarely appreciates predictably. You have to be incredibly savvy about the game to speculate like that and even the people who play it like stocks lose more than they like to admit. I am begging you not to treat the game like a stock market. You'll be in over your head, no offense meant.

wildestnacatl 2

Definitely don’t buy Magic stuff trying to flip it. It is really hard to predict value fluctuations even if you play the game. Sealed booster boxes will likely retain their value over time, though this is a really roundabout way to give them money.

We’ve just bought board games that we were previously on the fence about to support local stores during this.

calmikazee 2

Do they have a customer list? Marketing is so important. Find the local board game group meetup and offer incentives to host amd play there.

Families and kids... Summer board game camps, after school activities these are great from kids and then adult gaming at night. Dollar pizza slices, set up a grill outside, host birthday parties, lots of stuff to do as promotions.

Its not enough to open the doors and hope.

Plnk_Viking 2

Find some games that have been sitting on their shelves forever and buy them. I got some heavier games (like COINs) from my LGS that they weren't able to sell for years.

  Elsacuno 1

That's a thought! Maybe I'll come across something fun that I was completely unaware of. I'm not sure how much browsing they allow right now though... and I don't want to ask, what games aren't selling. That might sound a little strange? I don't want to make the owner feel awkward.

ceephour 3

Nobody is getting rich off of board games. How much do you think they make off 10 copies of Catan? If the game is $50 they're probably paying $20-25...? How long could you survive on $200-$250? How long do you think you could keep a store open on that little?

Buying a bunch of Magic cards and sitting on them for 10 years probably would net you a small profit. Perhaps most likely between breaking even and double your money. Their $200 would be long gone.

These shops are going to make their money during events (people buying snacks, packs of cards, or an entrance fee), or selling another product (food, like a gaming cafe), or charging for use of their space.

The place near me must make a ton on Magic players because they have a very large play space, two locations in the mall, and I believe they sell a lot of puzzles as well (people know it as "that puzzle store in the mall" I was told). They sure as hell don't sell much in the way of board games, as they charge MSRP on everything. If they had sales even remotely close to the OLGS (GameNerdz, Miniature Market, Boardlandia, etc) I'd be shopping there because of instant gratification. They don't, so I buy online and get "5 games for the price of 3" and Santa FedEx shows up every so often.

Sad to say, but the only thing I would lose if they closed down is that they occasionally have something that's been hard to find sitting on a shelf because nobody buys games there. :) Not a huge loss for me at all.

kerpaderp 3

See if they offer store credit purchase and buy some store credits to sit on. They get the money they need during this rough time and you are banking some credit for future purchases. Some risks on your end if the business goes under and you might not get anything back, though.

  Elsacuno 2

Buying a gift card for the store was what I was originally thinking. Though if they have to close, the card value would go to $0. If I knew that wouldn't happen, it would be an easy decision to go this route. At least if I buy something physical then I could sell it to someone else later and get most/all of the money back.

wildestnacatl 3

If they close, they’ll presumably announce it beforehand and you could buy something with the gift card then.

takabrash 1

On clearance!

IndependentGeorge34 4

The margins on Magic sealed product is really thin. Where stores make money on Magic is selling singles. Unfortunately it sounds like you don’t play MtG so singles won’t do anything for you. One person can’t keep a store open but if you really want to buy something that will give a larger profit for the store, singles is where you need to put your money.

  Elsacuno 3

Thank you for your thoughts. The store does sell singles but I fear I'd buy X when I should have bought Y and X could be a flop. I suppose that that point rather than buy a single I should just buy a gift card and hope that the store makes it through this difficult time.

Reasonable_Bit 4

Getting your money back by keeping them sealed is not always guaranteed when it comes to Magic. There has to be cards that are in demand in that particular set. Honestly, you would have to purchase a large amount of them to even help them cover a large amount of the business expenses.

takabrash 12

Give them money. That's the only way to "help" them.

How you do that is up to you entirely, but you just need to give them money. Buy lots of stuff, or just hand them cash. That's about it.

  Elsacuno 4

I hesitate to walk in the door and just hand them some cash. Wouldn't that be incredibly rude? They're going to ask me 'Why?'. "Here's some money because I'm afraid that you are going to go under." How else do I answer them? :> I enjoy going to the shop and I don't want to insult the owner. The thought was to just buy stuff and make it look like a normal large purchase so no one is the wiser.

takabrash 11

If I was a business owner, I'd be thrilled for someone to walk in and donate money just because they want me to be successful.

rick707 6

In addition, If he has an active gaming group or social media group he could try and encourage them to buy local vs online. It’s hard to spend so much more on games locally but for the time being it’s needed in order for the LGS to survive.

lellololes 8

If you buy more stuff, it's not going to stop the store from closing. You'd have to buy a metric assload of product from the store to keep it afloat. Magic cards aren't really an investment. Look at prices for modern sets - there is value but it's not like you're speculating in Black Lotuses.

If you really want the store to exist, your best option is to buy the store. And if you can't afford to purchase the store, you're probably not going to be able to spend enough money so that they stay open permanently.

Of course, it's going to close because the owner can't make enough money by running it, so if you bought it, you might be facing the same fate.

10 copies of Catan isn't going to delay the store's closure by a week.

Simbertold 12

Rather than do really weird stuff, maybe just buy a few games which you wanted to buy anyways in the future there now.

I don't think buying stuff you don't want is a good idea. At that point you can just gift them some money instead.

  Elsacuno 2

Thank you for the reply. Nothing is out right now that I am particularly wanting... I guess just go the gift card route?

Sparkly_Fish 41

If the business is failing and they are not adapting their model to the reality of the hobby in 2020 then it is going to fail regardless of what you do. You cannot buy enough magic product to keep them afloat, its that simple. And if you had the capital to actually buy that much product you'd be better off buying the business and turning it around yourself.

The good old days of shops being supported by magic/yugioh/Pokémon sales and throwing a few tables up at the back of the store is fading. Businesses in the hobby need to provide more than just product and some tables to play on. People can buy anything they want online for cheaper so what is their motivation to visit a local shop? What does the store provide that they can't get online?


Uhh be careful this is an unpopular opinion with some parts of this sub.

Sparkly_Fish 1

Be careful? I stand by what I said and if someone doesn't like it that's fine, they are welcome to downvote my opinion. I'm certainly not concerned with losing internet points.


The main thing the store provides is a safe place for everyone to gather and play games. Will Amazon be opening up any play spaces for us to play board games in large groups? Why local players buy on Amazon is beyond me when they should be supporting their local stores. But all we can do is control our own individual actions/choices and try to set a good example for others to follow.

Maxpowr9 5

Most people eventually host game nights at their homes and don't need a public space to play.

Libriomancer 3

They provide a place safer than my house? I’d never be able to get a group together at any of the LGS in my area. The staff are nice and helpful but the main customers that hang around... mainly some antisocial Magic players that turn up their noses at people looking at light games. Not a dig at all Magic players (I say with my old small collection of cards) but there is definitely a clientele that makes less hardcore gamers feel less welcome and safe.

I feel almost every game store would benefit from a more cafe style store with some back rooms for tournaments. I could get tons of people to meet for a coffee and a game (well, outside covid) that would then bring other friends without me. I can’t get a group of new players to visit a Magic oriented shop without me as they would be like “no, those are more your people”.

AleroRatking 3

It's real tough to spend almost double the price of a game. The problem with board games compared to video games is that big sellers will have the discounted nearly 50% at times. I love supporting local businesses but to get a game like pandemic legacy for 40 instead of 70 is a big difference.

barbedwires 3

If the main thing is a safe place for everyone, they should maybe pivot to Cafe model where you pay 5$ a day or hour or however they want to do it to play the collection, and then can sell specific foods/drinks that won't damage the games which have a higher margin

Sparkly_Fish 9

So does a local library, just having space isn't enough. What is the space that they provide? Is it an open gaming area that is inviting to the public or is it folding tables and chairs set up at the back of the store.

What other services do they provide to engage the public and bring people into the hobby. Do they have community game days, do they partner with any local restaurants to have a "family game night" type event. Do they have an open game library for people to be able to try before they buy?

If i come in off the street what is my first impression of the store when i walk in, is it clean and organized? Are the staff knowledgeable about the games, are they able to talk to me about them and answer questions? Is there someone there able to actually teach a game if I needed it?

Hobby stores have a massive opportunity to be a community resource for bringing new players into the hobby and bringing people within the community together. They can act as guides for people new to the hobby and help them along the way. This is the real value a hobby shop can provide to its community.

  Elsacuno 2

These are some great ideas! I'll be sure to share them with the owner after all the social distancing stuff ends. Do you have any other suggestions to pass along? I really like the idea of partnering with local restaurants.

And yes to a lot of your questions. :) They have a huge play space that takes maybe 2/3rds of the entire store. Definitely not in the back but it is folding tables and chairs. Definitely clean and organized, which was what surprised me when I went in for the first time years ago after being used to the usual 'dumpy design' a lot of stores end up falling into. The owner is definitely knowledgeable. You can give a basic summary of game and he often can name the title off the top of his head. Unfortunately though he doesn't have a very big staff, just he and his wife, so teaching others is limited to what volunteers are willing to come in and show others how to play.

Not_A_Greenhouse 22

> Why local players buy on Amazon is beyond me when they should be supporting their local stores.

Money. When I bought Twilight Imperium it was 50$ cheaper on amazon than any local game store. I've bought local when I could but I just can't afford LGS prices usually compared to amazon.

Vagueperson1 2

our local Gaming Goat has prices that are actually competitive with Amazon. I like supporting a local business. Having the games on the wall means it's a limited selection, but it also allows me to browse in a different way than online and to talk to people who have probably played the game. My Gaming Goat has a playing space, but I've never played there.

galad2003 19

When I buy a game from amazon it gives me exactly what I want. The exact I want delivered right to my door in a few days. I dont have to call/drive around to many stores tobsee if they have it in stock - which they usually dont. Oh and I save money in the process.

The ability to play in a store does nothing for me. Its uncomfortable, loud and full of strangers who dont talk or engage with me. I find most stores full of young people who are awkward around middle aged me. They usually dont have product I am looking for. And in my case the closest is an hour away.

Meanwhile my friends and I all own houses so we can rotate where we play. Plenty of food and drinks in the comfort of home.

LaughterHouseV 2

Yep, it's a pretty classic case of tragedy of the commons. It's in every player's best interest to have the stores around, as they will increase exposure of the hobby and thus partners to play immeasurably more than an online store will.

Hastyscorpion 10

I don't really agree with that. Randomly wandering into game store is very intimidating I seriously doubt any significant portion or people find their way to the hobby in that manner. Most people get into the hobby because someone invites them over and plays a game with them.

Troile 7

This is sadly the truth. Most of the shops nearest me that still afloat do most of their business online and sell under MSRP for the most part. Not sure how they manage it really but they seem to be doing okay, The others are all failing and there is not much that can be done to keep them open when they are clinging to a model that cannot survive right now. The in-person events were all that was keeping them going and those cannot really happen.

kerred 2

Weird, our store is just great doing MSRP and no online sales. Highest google maps rated in the area too despite MSRP prices.

I wonder why it works for us and not other stores. But i do not know how other stores fare.

PetesMgeets 4

The place I go to sells more than half their games for less than half of msrp and I can’t figure out how. Smash up is $10 new there and they have like 10 copies in stock, EVERYTHING is AT LEAST $5 below msrp, usually $10-20 under. They must have some crazy deal with the publishers