Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thoughts on the FLGS / My Favorite Stores

As gamers, we live in a privileged age. We can get almost any gaming material we desire in a .pdf file. Should we want a physical copy -be it books, cards, boxed games or miniatures- we can simply order them with the click of a button and our credit card number. We are no longer required to venture beyond our front doorstep like in the days of old, no more must we brave the elements or make contact with other human beings. Just place the order and watch our doorsteps.

Call me old fashioned, but I think it's a shame.

I'm not speaking from on-high mind you. I'm certainly no gleaming example of a hard-core brick and mortar customer. I've ordered from online stores. I've succumbed to the temptations of lower prices and convenience but I've been thinking about them a lot lately and it's something I want to change. I want to become a greater supporter of local businesses. As crazy as it might sound, I want to be a better customer.

Before I get started though, allow me to elaborate just a bit for the uninitiated. The acronym FLGS stands for Friendly Local Game Store. It is a term often used by table-top gamers of all stripes. It's a great acronym if you ask me. Sure, it could have just been LGS, but the F gives it an endearing quality. It lets the reader know that it's more than just a place to buy more stuff.

I've been to plenty of game shops in my lifetime. I've walked into hearty greetings and excellent service. I've seen die-hard gamers who spend more time in the store than they do at home and I've witnessed honest-to-goodness communities of gamers thrive and socialize in a place they can call their own.

I've also walked into disgusting sweat-boxes that stink like body odor and old bologna. I've had employees or owners ignore me because I wasn't a serious enough gamer for them and have recently read horror stories of an owner who described his own customers as "not very sociable" and "won't have people to send them [holiday cards]  to."

For now though, I don't want to think about those few bad examples. I want to talk about the good ones, the really great stores that I'm referring to whenever I type FLGS. When I want to hit the bricks and go to a game shop, I have three go-to spots that never fail to please and I present them to you here, in alphabetical order.

Between Books

The first store on our trip is Between Books in Claymont, DE. The store was introduced to me by friend and fellow blogger oddanchorite. While it isn't exactly "local" for me, it's close enough for an occasional visit and one of my favorite stores. As the name suggests, it is primarily a bookstore but also carries a large selection of games, comics, miniatures, toys and other accessories. Walking through the door of Between Books is something like walking into the game and bookstores from my childhood. It even smells like a good store. Rows upon rows of wooden shelves line the walls packed with surprises both old and new. Model spaceships hang from the ceiling. Weathered graphics, stickers and cutouts litter the store. You will typically be greeted by Greg, the owner of the 30+ year establishment. Greg is the kind of person who put's the friendly in FLGS. He also happens to be an encyclopedia of knowledge, a wizard of the written word. I've talked about rpg's with him, his book suggestions have always been spot-on and if you want something that he doesn't have, he'll do what he can to get it for you. He regulary hosts events in the store. He carries local stuff, independent stuff and even the obscure. Heck, I picked up a copy of Orcs in The Hood there! If you ever find yourself in or near Claymont, DE, I highly suggest a visit. It would be well worth it.

You can find Between Books at:
 2703 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, DE 19703

Redcap's Corner

Logo © Redcap's Corner

Second on our list is Redcap's Corner in Philadelphia, PA. Now I have to be honest, I've only gone here on a handful of occasions but I've been impressed on every visit. The store is bright and the people are friendly. They have a variety of game rooms and run regular events including Pathfinder, D&D, Warhammer, Magic:TG and more. I can't think of a single visit where the game room wasn't packed with folks playing one game or another. They recently ran a successful kickstarter to paint immense and awesome murals in their upstairs gaming room. My favorite experience in Redcap's to date was when my wife and I walked in to discover a rack stocked full of old Ral Partha AD&D miniatures and Shadowrun figures! I must have looked like a kid, looking at my wife with each figure I picked up asking, "Can I get this one too?!" Redcap's Corner also happens to be the store where I purchased my first Pathfinder Core Rulebook and switched over from 3.5, a decision that has proved great for my gaming group and myself. If you live in or ever find yourself in Philadelphia and have the itch for a good game, I highly suggest heading over to Recap's Corner!

You can find Redcap's Corner at:
 3617 Lancaster Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19104

Showcase Comics

Last, but certainly not least is the store I've been frequenting for most of my life. Showcase Comics is a comic and gaming store located inside the Granite Run Mall near Media, PA. While I could wax nostalgic 'til the cows come home, I'll save you the torment. Let's just say that my chubby little twelve year old fingers spent countless hours in this store browsing through brown and gold class books, buying Warzone and Chronopia figures and stocking up on shrink wrapped 2nd edition character sheets because I liked them way more than photocopies.

The store itself carries an incredible variety of products. Comics, board games, rpg's, card games, toys, war games, miniatures and more! If you play it, chances are Showcase carries it. They run regular games over twelve (i think?) tables and even hold community events like painting workshops. Mike, the manager of the store is an awesome guy and he'll help you with whatever he can. Just for example, my sister in-law purchased a set of Vallejo paints for me this past Christmas from Showcase Comics. She had no idea what she was doing and Mike was nice enough to not only show her what to get, but put her at ease by telling her "If he doesn't like a color or doesn't need it, he can just swap it out for another one, no big deal." I've heard the man give Warhammer 40k pointers and strategy over the phone to folks who call in with questions. Now that's customer service! If you ever find yourself in the Philadelphia area, Showcase Comics is definitely a place to go.

You can find Showcase Comics at:
 The Granite Run Mall, 1067 W. Baltimore Pike. Media, PA. 19063
They also have a location in Bryn Mawr at:
874 West Lancaster. Bryn Mawr, PA. 19010

Jeez, I didn't think I was going to write a book here but it looks like I did! I'm a big fan of Friendly Local Gaming Stores and thanks to our hobbies' being such social ones, I'm sure they will be around for long times to come. What do you think about your local store, and what's the best store you've ever been to? There's a few gaming mega-stores out there that I'd like to visit some day. Who knows, maybe I'll write about them!

Until next time, happy gaming!

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