Before we can figure out what make a friendly local game store successful, we need to define what makes a game store a game store in the first place.
What defines your friendly local game store?
Friendly local game stores come in many shapes and sizes. Some are big, some are small.
Some sell board games, others might sell miniatures or collectible card games, and still others comics, video games, or Japanese anime.
Some stores have a large play space to organize their events with and some stores are purely retail space.
The definition of a game store is an open ended question that I’ve been pondering for a while and I would like to take a stab at answering it today. I’m be curious if my definition lines up with yours, let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments.
I feel that calling a business a friendly local game store signifies something very special about it. FLGS and LGS are special labels we use to identify something specific about a business, it’s something that most businesses don’t have.
The first key here is “friendly”
I think the essence of a friendly local game store is the community. Chances are, when you think of a local game store in your area, you don’t imagine a Toys’R’Us even though a typical Toys’R’Us has 10x as many board games the business you thought of has.
And chances are you didn’t think of a Game Stop even though Game Stop most certainly sells games.
The difference being the community associated with the last three. Each of these places has a large group of customers that will go out of their way to spend money and time at their respective shops. A friendly local game store is a hub for hobby gamers to gather around. A place to spend money on their favorite hobbies but to also enjoy the company of others like themselves. People who are passionate about their particular game of choice.
An FLGS creates their community by providing a space for them to play in, and to me this means tables and organizing events. An FLGS without tables and play space is just another retail store.
The four major categories
The other major distinction is in the second half of the name “friendly local game store“. You aren’t talking about a game store if the place doesn’t sell games, obviously. The difference is that we’re talking about table top games here. And virtually every single FLGS sells one or more the four major categories of table top games.
Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, Warmachine, Flames of War, and a huge variety of others.
Magic, Pokemon, Yugioh, Force of Will, etc.
Dungeons and Dragon’s, Pathfinder, etc.
Euro games like Settlers of Catan and mainstream games like Monopoly.
If the core of a business involves one or more of these categories and focuses on building a community around them with play space and organizing, to me that’s the definition of a friendly local game store. That isn’t to say that a game store can’t also sell comics, but rather that a comic store that sells booster packs of Magic wouldn’t qualify as an FLGS. And that’s what I think makes an FLGS so special and unique.
I would love to hear your opinion on what defines an FLGS, is there more to it? Let me know in the comments or yell at me on Twitter, @tomtraplin.