Monday, October 12, 2009

My (fairly awesome) FLGS

One of my actual FLGStores

It's funny how the great wheel works sometimes, within the same week I condemned one local game shop, vowing to never frequent them again with person or coin, I had a wonderful experience at another store, and thought I'd give it its due.

Hobbytown is a national chain, and anyone who has been in one know they carry pretty much everything from RC cars to trains to Legos. Our local shop carries a good amount of miniatures products like GW racks, Reaper figs, and Flames of War, plus a ton of boardgames among others. Last week saw the official release of Arcane Legions, and about a week before that I received an email from my Hobbytown (since I'm on their list) about a "release party' for the game's debut. I don't game in public, I've got a large group of close friends, and a decent sized game room to roll dice in so I usually just don't make it out. However, I've heard many good things about Arcane Legions, and was curious to see it in person.

These signs were put up in the store itself, and not only that, but one of the store's employees had taken his demo set they received and painted all of the blank figs it came with. Color pics of these were in a photo folder on the racks so a customer could flip through it just to see what it looked like. They've done this before with color pics put out for display of GW models like Valkyries and such. Kind of a neat 'extra mile' to go to.

There were two demo armies set up in the gaming area. Oh, did I mention the gaming area? It's a modestly sized area with foldable tables and chairs to pull out. Also they have a good amount of customer and store-built terrain on shelves to use as you like. The terrain's a tad beat up, but it was there nonetheless. I also noted a sign-up sheet and schedule for game son the wall, it seemed pretty full. Every Saturday is 40k day for instance.

The Arcane Legions armies were set out for display for whoever passed by to peruse. There was a good sized crowd of about half a dozen people in attendance, and the guy running the event was friendly, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic. This was the same guy who painted up the figs, and not that matters too much, but he's also about fifteen years my senior.

That's when pleasant surprise number two hit me; they were providing food in the form of sandwiches from a local deli, cookies from a local bakery, and drinks int he form of bottled water...for free. I'm a sucker for free food (umm, obviously), and it was an added bonus that this food was pretty tasty to boot. Then the third shoe dropped and they started passing out raffle tickets to those in attendance to win a free Arcane Legions starter box.

A couple of customers, who I assume are regulars of the shop, helped run the games with the rules and setup. More armies were brought out, but they weren't fully painted, and two demo tables were set up with two armies on each. I started a demo game commanding the Egyptian forces, and about halfway through stepped aside and let one of the others watching take over, I didn't want to hog the table after all. A couple of us were set to show up, but in the end only Chrispy was actually able to make it. I'm glad he did though.

I put on a good show, but I'm not the most personal, having said that, 95% of the people there seemed pretty cool and I wouldn't mind rolling dice with them again. It was an overall enjoyable experience and I couldn't help but keep thinking what a bad experience I had just received at another shop that very week. True, I can still order stuff online cheaper, but, in this case, they provided gaming space, friendly staff, and enough little extras that show they care enough about the customer to make the extra effort.

In case you're wondering, YES, I did win the Arcane Legions starter box, mwahahaha! What a night, I just showed up for a demo game, and not only won a starter box, but also got free cookies (and int he process restored a smidgen of faith in the concept of the FLGS)! Remember the great wheel I mentioned? I took the $45 bucks I got from returning my goods to the other hobby shop and spent it, within the dollar, on a Chinese cavalry box and a few boosters for the game, as it turns out, I liked it quite a bit. Chrispy picked up a starter box as well, which contains three small armies (Egyptian, Roman, and Chinese), so on the spot, I traded him all of my Roman stuff for all of his Chinese stuff.

Well, that's it in a nutshell. Thanks for everyone who gave some input to my last FLGS rant, it's not quite a forum, but I enjoy 'talking shop' nonetheless with fellow peeps out there far and wide. I've got a "big ole" Arcane Legions post pending as well...


  1. I am really glad you had a good experience at this one! And it doesn't hurt winning the door prize too =) I have been blessed with great game stores in the last 2 towns I have lived in (or near) and we have been scheduling games there with their great terrain. I can't wait to see pics of the minis you got, maybe even a before and after shot? Later =)

  2. I've generally had pretty good experiences out at the Hobby Town. I've put on a couple of FOW games out there. I have generally done it on one of their Saturday game days. As you might imagine, my FOW terrain and figs get a lot of oohs and ahhs from the crowd of "typical" 40K FLGS guys (i.e. lots of unpainted minis fighting for the 2-3 chunks of store terrain plopped down in the middle of the table).

  3. I'll have to give the local Hobby Town another look. I wonder if Hobby Town is using it's national chain status to fill the gap left by the dying of the traditional FLGS?

    With their chain status they might be able to overcome some of the distribution issues that independent stores suffered from. But that's just a guess.

    We have a few HTU in this state that run FOW games.


  4. @Shelexie: Yup, this one restored my faith in the brick and mortar store. I'll post on Arcane Legions soon, it was pretty cool, I must admit.

    @Brian: That crowd is usually why I prefer to game at home (plus adult beverages and gaming go hand-in-hand), but our Hobbytown offers that 'immediacy' factor we spoke of, as well as a bunch of nice extras. Plus, it's danger-close to my house.

    @Eli: Could be, that's a good point. Plus, they're pulling revenue stream from a very diverse range of products, which I'm sure helps.

  5. @Mik That's sort of what I was getting at there. They can afford the lackluster sales of a gaming store because they have other products. Also, they tend to stock proven sellers.

    I wonder what their special order policies are. Sure they may not regularly stock a line of minis, but will they order them for you?


  6. @ Eli

    They can order specific items of lines they carry, but they will be limited to those common items carried by the big games distributors (GW, FOW, etc.). Not likely to be able to order those War of Spanish Succession 28mm figures at Hobbytown. However, their willingness/ability to do that will depend a lot (in my experience) on who's working that day. When I've tried to make special orders I had success on those days when the manager was there or when the guy in charge of gaming at the store was there. Everyone else just took a message, which often as not got lost in the shuffle...