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"Tabletop Wargamers- Rare breed." Topic

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1,225 hits since 7 Dec 2017
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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sillypoint07 Dec 2017 11:27 p.m. PST

So I'm visiting a city of over 1.1 million- first world country.
The wargame shop I found was not in the cbd, it was on the fringe- a suburb, a small frontage, but deep retail outlet.
A grade for effort, but a 2-3 out of 10 for stock.
Found a game shop in the CBD, 2-3 tables of Magic being played -😕

Green Tiger08 Dec 2017 1:20 a.m. PST

You found a wargames shop!? Very few of those around anywhere. Why does this surprise you?

14Bore08 Dec 2017 2:30 a.m. PST

That you found 1 is amazing, even in the middle of Tokio with millions you probably couldn't find one.

Puddinhead Johnson08 Dec 2017 4:25 a.m. PST

Rents are too high in a cbd. Why would you expect anything different?

JimDuncanUK08 Dec 2017 4:49 a.m. PST

What on earth is a 'cbd'?

bong6708 Dec 2017 4:55 a.m. PST

central business district

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 5:20 a.m. PST

CBD: never heard that term before. Must be in some sort of time nexus to find a viable wargames shop…..LMK what the winning lottery numbers are would you please??

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 5:39 a.m. PST

Since Sillypoint won't name names, it's hard to comment on probabilities. In the US I expect to find a wargame shop in towns from about 200,000 up, and sometimes more than one. The British experience is quite different, but they can count on a convention within day-trip distance pretty much any weekend, and a dense GW network to keep them in paints and brushes between times.

And of course they think the world is much like home. Pretty well everyone does.

Durban Gamer08 Dec 2017 5:39 a.m. PST

Cities har, some whole countries don't have a decent historical miniatures shop!

JimDuncanUK08 Dec 2017 6:04 a.m. PST

I would expect Sillypoint to be a Commonwealth citizen, perhaps an Ozzy or a Kiwi going by his profile picture and his use of 'cbd' which I've never heard of in this country.

YogiBearMinis Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 7:08 a.m. PST

The various RPG forums frequently discuss the economics of game shops, and the near-unanimous opinion is that shops survive on (1) Magic the Gathering, (2) other CCG's, (3) Magic again, (4) selling snacks and drinks, and (5) everything else together equaling less than any of the first four. Comic books can also pay the rent. Tabletop RPG's, miniatures, wargames, and even boardgames do not make money and at best break even and keep up foot traffic. There are exceptions, but these are admired and lauded for breaking the pattern rather than held up as possible examples to emulate.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 7:12 a.m. PST

I found two in Peru (Lima, Cuzco) a couple weeks ago. Also, a few bookstores carried some (a small, select amount of) RPG and TTMG books/paraphernalia. They didn't have consistent power or hot water, but they had games.

Dynaman878908 Dec 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

Very few wargame shops left in the world, plenty of shops that carry GW or FFG type stuff however.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 7:45 a.m. PST

I live in a city of 110,000, in the midwestern USA. We have two RPG-type gaming stores in town, who carry mini's, and card games.

One is a hugely busy gaming store, but I cannot, for the life of me, figure out their income source… They have plenty of open tables, with one night being standing room only, due to it being designated for RPG play! They have mini's nights, and every day is open gaming where you come in, sit down at an open table, and try to get others to play in your board/RPG/mini's game.

They host card game tournaments, but, frankly, it doesn't add up to a salary for one staff, let alone five! Open 7-days a week, 12 hours each day… Their physical games inventory is minimal, and they do not charge to use the tables! They have a small library of board games for customers to pull out and play, free. They sell soda pop, and candy bars. Don't get it. Period.

Wondering if they will survive, to be honest. They've been open for six months, now. Nice store, well lit, clean, open, friendly. Just don't see the source of rent money, nor staff wages. Their Magic tournaments might be monthly, maybe weekly? Seems like their hobby is to run the store itself, but the time/money commitment denies this, unless they are independently wealthy.

B&M stores are tough to keep open. Somehow they are managing. I am thankful, but… Curious.

We have a second gaming store a mile from them: dark, not particularly clean; they sell used RPG stuff, but when you ask the price of an item, they have to look it up on the Internet to see how much to charge you… Open, free tables, but not a very cheery place, comes across as a dive, to be honest

They've been in business for 2+ years, now. Wondering how long they will be around, as well. Cheers!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 8:00 a.m. PST

It's common enough, but I never understood maintaining gaming tables and not charging table fees. All that space costs money.

That said, I do know long-term successful stores who operate that way. I know we're a portly crowd, but there can't be that much money in selling us snacks, can there?

Hmm. I will go further. Since I escaped Fort Campbell in 1986, I've never lived in an American city without some sort of game shop not GW, and gaming tables available. So it works--or at least CAN work--in the present American environment.

I too have a little trouble understanding how, sometimes.

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 8:14 a.m. PST

What the Sgt describes seems typical of the places I'm aware of still in existence.

Not like the old days when the wall pegs were filled with plastic sacks of Old Glory, and tiny ziplocks of Essex and Peter Pig minis, rows of Minifig and microarmor blisters. Only Bookhurst has a forest of spinners with miniatures from a million manufacturers to browse through.

The world has moved on.

GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 8:40 a.m. PST

There's one small local store here that carries military miniatures and supplies, mostly Warlord products, although a few others minimally in the mix. Then there is the card, comic book, and RPG store across the river. Plus a board game/RPG/minimal figures store in the strip mall retail area.

It's amazing that any of them make it these days.

DeRuyter08 Dec 2017 10:44 a.m. PST

How do these stores stay in business? One answer may be online sales. Look at The Warstore here in the US, I believe Coolstuff, Inc has B&M locations as well. Just a thought.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 10:53 a.m. PST

Flashman, it hasn't moved very for for you. If the Brits tell me there are no more gaming shops--well, I'm not going back to check. But it's not that long since I escaped DC's southern annex. You've got Game Parlor in Chantilly, Eagle and Empire in Alexandria and Huzzah Hobbies just across the country line in Ashville--all with racks if not spinners and in-store gaming. I was through the area in the late 1980's, and it was better supplied with game shops when I left in 2015 than when I arrived.

No, no one's going to keep a lot of inventory of any one line. But there is serious inventory in those stores, and not much they can't get if you ask them.

I remember the Good Old Days, too--back when there were no gaming shops, but maybe the model shop had some Rocco and a few boxes of Airfix. I prefer the present system.

wrgmr108 Dec 2017 11:10 a.m. PST

The local store sells 3 or 4 cases of Magic cards a weeks. That is good money.

Frothers Did It And Ran Away08 Dec 2017 11:37 a.m. PST

Game, and model, shops in the UK are much rarer than they once were, but Firestorm Games in Cardiff shows it can be a great success if you think a bit outside the usual retail outlet paradigm and make the store a real destination. And having a blanket 10% off retail helps too.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 11:42 a.m. PST

Robert P,

Games Parlor in Chantilly is gone now. As is Piper's Hobby around the corner.

Kind of dry here in NOVA


YogiBearMinis Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 11:47 a.m. PST

A lot of the collectible card packs, Magic especially, are sold in special-event promotional sales—like "Thursdy night midnight madness" or such, rather than pack by pack on regular shopping days. Supposedly Magic's owners (Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro) are very aware they need the hobby shops for players to play Magic in the public gaming space, and therefore make special concessions to brick and mortar shops over online sellers to help keep them in business.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 11:51 a.m. PST

One dedicated historical minis store in the metropolitan area, which I haven't been to so I can't review at all. From what I've heard, I do get the impression it's more of a hobby/club store than an intentional money-maker, NTTAWWT. This one replaced the old one in another location that closed down a couple of years ago due to high rents (driven upwards by enormous property tax hikes). Another game store exists further out, and another further than that. The former has been around forever, but has location and, frankly, service issues (owner can be terse and a bit surly). The other I think is more comics & Magic oriented, but does carry games, as I've bought X-wing products from them at a local con. Seem like good guys.
Closer to me is a toy store that carries games and GW products. And 15 minutes from me is a GW store; nice facility, of course, but since I don't play any current GW products, of little attraction to me. If I drive about an hour away, there's an excellent game store in another city; its space is huge, with lots of tables, and I gather they regularly host MTG tournaments and possibly other game tournaments. They don't offer figs aside from Reaper or D&D fantasy minis; the focus is board games and CCGs.

So *some* people are making a go of it, but mostly on the board game, CCG and GW fronts. I'm not certain a dedicated miniatures store could make a go of it as a B&M without doing the same.

Timmo uk08 Dec 2017 11:59 a.m. PST

I'm amazed there are as many small traders within the hobby as there are – it has to be a labour of love given the slim profit margin for all but a few companies.

CBD and OBD – I was taught these terms in school geography classes 35+ years ago, so they certainly exist in the UK but I do agree you don't hear these terms very often.

JimDuncanUK08 Dec 2017 12:20 p.m. PST

Thanks Timmo

CBD and OBD were never used when I did geography but that is 50+ years for me.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 1:17 p.m. PST

Within Wake County, NC there are 4 game shops and they
all sell mini's along with the usual RPG, BG and so
on fare.

In Durham county there is ONE game shop and it sells,
along with the usual, BEER !

They'll be around for a while, methinks…

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 2:06 p.m. PST

We certainly have CBDs in Britain. We call them city centres.

sillypoint08 Dec 2017 2:08 p.m. PST


Still, you guys we are on the rare list….like I think we are black lotus rare.

Many years ago, when the earth was younger, I visited Auckland NZ, I could not locate the Battlefront- Flames of War HQ.

I have 3 Russian Front board games that I am finding hard to find opponent for….Magic the gathering – I can get a game.

sillypoint08 Dec 2017 4:41 p.m. PST

Thinking maybe we need a secret society of the rolling dice. In which you give notice that you are visiting and a game is hosted.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2017 4:41 p.m. PST

OK, historical miniatures players--well, actually, non-franchise miniatures players--may be hard to find, but I like to think we're worth the effort.

C'mon. Is NO ONE else reading the subject line and remembering the old Jimmy Stewart western?

[STEWART IN TEXAS BLIZZARD] "Now, have any of you got any idea where the bull might be?"
[VAQUERO] "If he's as smart as you say, Senor, he's half-way to Mexico by now."

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Dec 2017 7:17 a.m. PST

It's common enough, but I never understood maintaining gaming tables and not charging table fees. All that space costs money.

I believe the driving concept is if you don't have some place to play and a pool of other players to play with, you stop buying new stuff.

basileus66 Inactive Member09 Dec 2017 11:51 p.m. PST

In Madrid, a 3 million people city, there are three dedicated stores: Quimera, Atlántica Juegos and La Flecha Negra, although you can also find a smattering of hobby shops that carry boardgames and, of course, the ubiquituous Magic or X-Wing (Arte 9, Generación X, etc). We consider ourselves very well served, wargaming-wise.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2017 7:25 a.m. PST

The chances of finding a wargaming shop have nothing to do with the population size of a location. It is all about the cost of retail units.

In Britain, bricks and mortar retail space has very high overheads. Also in Britain, one of the most popular participation sports is fishing. Millions of people go fishing regularly. There are very few fishing shops, especially in city centres (or CBDs for you foreign types), as they struggle to make a profit even with such a huge potential market.

This is why shops are more and more about selling services such as estate agents (or real estate), hairdressers, coffee shops, etc. The profit margins are MUCH higher.

Dynaman878910 Dec 2017 5:28 p.m. PST

> This is why shops are more and more about selling services such as estate agents (or real estate), hairdressers, coffee shops, etc. The profit margins are MUCH higher.

And such things can't be sold more cheaply online. Real Estate maybe but they way that works is not easily turned into a high volume low margin profit center and coffee could be but delivery of the stuff still hot is a problem yet.

forrester11 Dec 2017 2:29 p.m. PST

Back when there were actual wargame miniatures shops, they could only carry limited choice so even pre-internet one mostly bypassed shops and did mail order.
In the UK we were and still are fortunate that there are so many companies here making and selling figures and accessories, no overseas postage.

Locally there's a model shop selling kits, and a newish one doing card games. and a GW.
Slightly further away is Brimstage Forge, with various figure ranges and gaming nights..[sadly nothing in my scale and period].. quite a rare beast.
It looks like it should be a wargamer's dream, especially one who likes FOW.
But of course we are lazy slobs and online purchaes are but a few clicks away.

DHautpol12 Dec 2017 6:03 a.m. PST

"Back when there were actual wargame miniatures shops, they could only carry limited choice so even pre-internet one mostly bypassed shops and did mail order."

This is why I got into the habit of shopping at shows. I generally attend the major south of England shows – Salute, Colours, SELWG and Warfare and use these as an opportunity to shop; I always have orders to pick-up. It does mean that my lead pile is a bit higher when the autumn cycle has ended but as I no longer play sport in the winter my purchases will comfortably last me round to spring and Salute.

The entry costs are usually balanced out by the savings on postage and there is the advantage of getting to see new products in the flesh, as it were, and not just as pictures in the magazines,

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