Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pay Where You Play

This week has been slow for me; I've been assembling Beastmen for fantasy and reading Badab War books in Imperial Armour 9 and 10. I have also been taking part in a discussion on Reddit talking about FLGS's and how to spend cash there. I've always been a proponent of Pay Where You Play, which is a slogan I heard on the Heroic 28s podcast.

Different Environments
First I will say that I got a little passionate in the Reddit thread. I live very close to what I consider the best FLGS I've ever been to. It is staffed by people who care about the hobby and their business and it shows. The store is clean and bright and well stocked.

This is often not the case, so one has to take that into account when discussing pay where you play on the interwebs. Oftentimes people have an experience with a store that is not so great and so they don't consider it as important. Any discussion of this idea should take this into account.

Warhammer is An Expensive Hobby
No matter how much I rail on GW for raising prices unreasonably, one must always remember that this hobby is expensive. Going into it trying to cut corners at every opportunity may not be the best method of joining the hobby. I think out of our whole playgroup, most of us started 40k / Fantasy / Warmachine AFTER college!

What Does the Store Owe You?
FLGS's should be clean. They should have a nice bathroom that isn't stanked up and stainy. They should have a brightly lit playing area with a plethora of terrain and tabletops. They should stock the main merchandise lines and be open for orders if they don't have it. Staffers should be pleasant and willing to answer questions. It is reasonable to request that miniatures be sold at least at a 10% discount; this provides some incentive to purchase in store, obviously.

What Do You Owe the Store?
If you spend your time there playing games, you should purchase your hobby merchandise there. Buy your Warhammer models there at the very least. This is what the store makes money on, not so much once-a-year purchases like brushes or clippers. Justifying purchasing things online to save money that you can spend in the store every few months is just that: justifying.

If you don't purchase your stuff in store, if everyone purchased from the internets and then walked in to play, pretty soon you'd find yourself playing in someone's cat smell basement.
Obviously there are things you can't purchase in store. Bits are something that sometimes have to be found at bits retailers online. Alternative companies sometimes aren't big enough to sell wholesale to stores. Old and out of print models usually aren't available either. I can't say that I've spent all my hobby money in stores; I've purchased things here and there on eBay, but that is a small percentage of my hobby expenditures. I've also sold many models to fund other projects, so I'm not Mr. Moneybags or anything.

Why Not Shop Online?
There are quite a few full-service stores online that will sell you items for a great discount and ship it very fast and very well. These stores have no local buy-in to your area. They won't run tournaments, they won't give you advice on painting, they won't listen to your well-held opinions on the state of the hobby.

Most of all, they won't invite you into their place of business to let you play wargames on their tables with all of their terrain that they built and painted.


  1. I feel the same way - I still order all of my gaming figures from my FLGS (not so local anymore - 1,600 miles away). Gamers Sanctuary in Flint, MI is a great home for gamers!

  2. "These stores have no local buy-in to your area. They won't run tournaments, they won't give you advice on painting, they won't listen to your well-held opinions on the state of the hobby."

    The non-shop-based gaming clubs (which I pay to attend and which frequently run bring-and-buys for members) do all that and don't care where my models came from (unless they're stolen or traded for crack or similar, I suppose). And they don't run out of dank fishy basements either, before you say anything.

    (Well, okay. One did. But that one was renting the cellar of a game shop...)

    I'm not saying I disagree completely with everything you're saying, but I do think that store-centric gamer culture might be an American thing, while club-centric blokes-in-sheds-buying-it-from-mail-order gamer culture might be more the way we default to doing things on my side of the pond. The rules of engagement are a bit different here, is the point I'm making, as are the expectations and the issues of entitlement.

    That said, I do try to buy something from the local GW if I'm using their tables. It's just good manners, and free tables + higher prices roughly balances out with lower prices + attendance fees. So, like I said, I don't disagree...

    1. Yeah it definitely sounds like you have a much different situation than what we have here in the US.

      I don't think I'd include GW shops as a 'FLGS'. They're notoriously awful here. I would encourage you not to shop at them =)

    2. Your GW branches must suck!

      To be fair, they're of variable quality over here. My current local branch is actually friendly, of the "whip through the sales script right quick and start treating customers like human beings again" variety. Another that I've played at had a manager who took his training verrah seriously and tended to become less friendly if he'd been away for any recently. Yet another had perfectly friendly staff but the regular customers were a drag. Funnily enough if I don't like a shop I stop playing there, and so the obligation to buy things goes away...

  3. I can drink in my basement....which I seem to need to do more of when Tau4eva comes over and beats on me.

    1. Yeah I definitely wouldn't discourage anyone from playing in their basement as long as it doesn't smell like cat pee.

    2. Pft my basement smells like primer and glue!

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  5. I buy everything that I can at my FLGS. At best, I'm saving 10% by buying online most times. To me, that's just not worth it. By patronizing my FLGS, I'm helping support the local economy and keeping people employed. I don't want my money going to some schmuck in another state, or sometimes in another country.

    My dad is a Kroger Store Manager. My whole family drives out of our way to shop Kroger. You support family and friends. That's what you're doing when you support your FLGS.

    Right on, Mike!

  6. See i don't play much at FLGS I just chose not to, if I am there usually its only for a tournament that I'm hosting. If I'm playing in the tournament well then I am paying to play there(and i end up spending anyways).

    My money is precious to me, I have a house payment/cars/kids college funds, ect ect that come before my hobby spending. So if I want the new shiny I need to find it at a discount. I also am blessed to live with 5 different game stores are within 30-45 min distance. Guess what I'm going to shop at the one offering me 30%-35% discount.

    Now with that said, I have never ever walked into a game store and not spent money, not the big money a new army = but usually a figure or paint or something.

  7. If you aren't playing at your local store, than the pay where you play doesn't really apply to you does it?