On retail and competition

We’ve had an interesting situation crop up which in all honesty was completely unexpected. A new game store has opened up in Plainfield IL – The Wandering Dragon Game Shoppe. The owners (Laura and Kevin)  have been in to Fair Game a number of times and had discussed their desire to run a store of their own. They found a location in Plainfield (near their home) and went for it.

Cool!

The strange thing about this is I’ve had customers and friends who expressed their disappointment (dare I say anger?) that another game store has opened “so close” to Fair Game. That somehow we have ‘dibs’ on a 20 mile radius around Downers Grove and no other store should dare open within our ZOC (that’s “Zone of Control” for you non-war gamers). One person went as far as to say that our customers are being stolen!

That is UTTER NONSENSE.

Our community not only can handle more game stores, I genuinely believe it is a strong indicator of how well the game industry is doing. A good game store will not only attract gamers, but also introduce the hobby to those gamers-to-be – effectively “growing the hobby” (sorry for the business speak).

As to the customers “being stolen” comment – again, I cry BS. Fair Game doesn’t have customers based solely on geography – they are not “ours” – they do not belong to us. We attract customers due to our passion, enthusiasm and hard work. We truly love the games we carry and enjoy fostering that upon anyone that will pay attention. Our customers come because they enjoy our store, our employees and our selection. My purpose in opening Fair Game was not primarily one of business, but of community. I wanted a game store in Downers Grove so my kids and their friends would have a safe and interesting place to shop and discover. We need more gamers. After all, without them who are we going to play with?

Laura and Kevin are passionate gamers – I’ve seen that every time they come in to Fair Game. They are, frankly, perfect game store owners. I believe they will do a fantastic job of catering to the gamer and non-gamer alike; spreading the joy of socializing over a board game to experienced, and (more importantly) inexperienced (or new) gamers. They will grow a community as we have done at Fair Game – and in turn, increase the number of gamers in our region.

What on earth could be wrong about that?

–Josh

9 Responses to On retail and competition

  1. Frank Foulis

    The only time I think a new store is bad is when they put down the other stores without reason. A gaming store should create an experience that excites the customers and also gets them to buy things in your store. The more stores can do this and be successful at it, the more the hobby will continue to grow and counter the notion that game stores are dying.

    • Indeed – when something like that happens it is typically done in agression. I’m continually telling my kids that “talking bad about someone else doesn’t make you any better”. Same lesson here.

      btw – I have no reason to believe anyone at The Wandering Dragon has talked bad about us.

  2. I’m glad you took the time write this. I live in Plainfield, and we actually got 2 new game stores in the past month. Top Cut Gaming being the 1 st to open. That being said, I was thrilled. As much as I enjoy Fair Game, it was a bit of a hike for me to go to. With the Wandering Dragon, it takes me 2 minutes to get to. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure I will still be going to your wonderful store, as I have do have friends that live by Fair Game. But I will actually be able to visit my local game store weekly, instead of monthly.

    People have to stop and think, this is helping our hobby, not hurting it.

  3. I go to game stores for several reasons.
    1. To support the local group rather than chain stores.
    2. Because of the fellowship and friendship there.

    I haven’t been to the store in Plainfield, but it’s not like there aren’t any other stores nearby. I occasionally hit one in Lockport and one in Joliet, each within a half hour of my home. When I get really adventerous I wander down to one in Frankfort or another in Mount Prospect, each within an hour. Stores are out there; you just have to look around to find them.

    If I want to order something I’ll probably buy through FAIR GAME but if I want something “off the shelf” (i.e. “must read it right now!”) I might go to other stores just to see if they have a different selection.

  4. Mike Goodridge

    I agree with Josh on the benefit of a new store opening, hopefully people are getting off their PC’s, away from their T.V’s and playing games with their friends and family. When I found Fair Game a few months ago I was incredibly happy, to the point of telling Josh several times how important his store was. I recently got back into table top /P&P games and was really happy to find a good place to buy quality games, good conversation and helpful service. I have since been there at least once every few weeks to pick up various items.

    Think of gaming as a grass roots effort and you see the value of quality game stores- the more exposure the better.

  5. I started going to FG because it is close to my house, I continued going there because they are nice people. If they were jerks, I wouldn’t. For those of you that think it is going to effect the shop in a negative way let me point out there is another larger (in size) store in the area that offers magic the gathering on friday nights that is much closer than this new one opening. And I will point out we still get 5 rounds (and some nights have to cap off) every friday. As long as FG keeps having not jerks and 5 rounds of Magic on Fridays… I see no reason to go anywhere else. =)

  6. Bravo! Well said Josh! It’s gratifiying to see this kind of attitude. I love having both stores to share in the fun of our hobby. Thanks for taking the time to write this message to share your feelings on business vs. community.

  7. It’s nice to see game store, and gamers, getting along. It’s a wonderful thing to have choices since not every store runs the same event at the same time, and it’s a fantastic way to build a bigger gaming community. You guys are very lucky!

  8. Based on this thread I decided to make a pilgrimage to WANDERING DRAGON, and I thought I’d leave a short review of thoughts in no particular order.
    1. It was a pretty straight-forward drive for me, but I had a hard time finding the place initially. Once I realized that it was around the side of the building, I’m sure I could find it again.
    2. It’s on the second floor, so you have to navigate some stairs to get there.
    3. The people there were quite friendly. They were willing to talk about games, answer questions about games, or just let me alone to look at the games. :-)
    4. They have a couple of different WANDERING DRAGON t-shirt designs for sale. Nice!
    5. They have a game library. Not quite as big as at FAIR GAME, but they have one.
    6. They have a nice atmosphere in the place. Some middle-earth maps on the walls, that kind of thing.
    7. They have a very large place for playing games. Reminded me of a school cafeteria with around a dozen long tables. Lots of space, and seemed quite empty with only a few guys playing something in one corner.
    8. Not so happy with their product selection. They have lots of board games, but not much RPG stock at all. Some 4E and Pathfinder and AD&D reprints that was about it. They had a few sets of poly dice and blocks of d6′s but nothing really different or unusual to pick from. Since I’m a rpg guy, that was the biggest disappointment for me.

    Overall, looks like a nice place with nice people and a lot of potential. The lack of RPG stuff is probably my deal-breaker, however, so hard to say how often I’ll actually visit there.