What is a gaming store? Why do they even still exist? I hear this more often than usual from penny pinchers, online dealers, or at Magic events.
Let me start by saying that we all know about the internet and are familiar with TCG player, Star City Games, and Channel Fireball. We use these websites or online storefronts to price our paper money– I mean, magic cards– when we sell or trade. I used sites like this as a tool to see what’s hot and what’s in demand. What I didn’t realize is that what I am doing by comparing the local gaming stores prices to those online is not only disrespecting the judgement of a shop owner’s decision-making, but also taking for granted the welcome sign that is overlooked upon entering.
These online-only stores have become very popular and people have become more dependable upon them and their “cheaper prices” than ever. You can bet that they know that they’re competing with all of the local gaming stores, too. They undercut those Brick and Mortar stores by charging less for items because they don’t have to pay for everything that is affiliated with owning a Brick and Mortar store. Things like leasing or mortgage payments on the building, general utilities, city and state taxes, and the upkeep of the building. These and many other costs are sacrificed by the owner to provide a warm safe building for you to play in, instant gratification of your purchases, a more personable experience, friends and new faces to play with, and a physical place where you can feel welcomed. These things are easily overlooked when ordering from an online-only retailer. These are the real goals and visions of most owners of the Brick and Mortar gaming stores because, honestly, they make barely enough money to stay open.
When I was a kid these online stores and on demand price guides were actually Card Shops and magazines like Becketts and Scry . I would go to the card shop and find out what my cards were worth and find out what cards were popular. During my visit I would meet new people and get a better understanding of the game. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming even to a new-comer with no clue of the game and its rules. It was this feeling of companionship that kept me coming back and off the streets where I could have been causing trouble. I had a place where people just like me could leave their problems at the door, cut loose without regret, and have a lot of fun! I learned about other games outside of Magic: The Gathering as well. It broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to other options. I owe my development as a young adult to the workers (who are gamers themselves) that spent an incredible amount of personal time and money on people like me. It would be a shame if places like this became overlooked and forgotten.
Wizards of the Coast itself knows how far they have come since the early days of Magic in the early 90’s. They know that they owe most of the success to Brick and Mortar stores. From the beginning, and still today, Brick and Mortar stores are the most influential source for Magic: The gathering. Tournaments are held with special incentives from WOTC available only at Brick and Mortar stores. Weekly, there are FNM’s (Friday Night Magic) and each set release has its own Prerelease and Game Day. Participants receive limited alternative art promos and pins. If you’re in the top rankings, you receive even more goodies and the winner gets a Champion playmat.
So the next time you decide to buy a gaming product, comic books, or even Magic: The Gathering, I encourage you to shop at your local gaming store. The five dollars you might save goes a long way to provide the services we enjoy. It’s the least we can do to thank our stores and help them stay in business so we can continue to have a place we can go to play. Game On!
Written by Anthony Medina