Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Scoping the Scene

I'm one of those people who tends to form very strong bonds of loyalty to ... things. I drink Coke (or did, when I could still drink caffeinated beverages). I wear Nike and Red Wing shoes almost exclusively. And I support my local game store. Most of the time, this is neither good nor bad.

But I don't want to be a blind follower, so I work pretty hard at keeping tabs on what else is out there. I've tried on Adidas shoes (which were too narrow). I had an RC Cola. And, last weekend, I took Steph and drove to a couple of game stores that aren't Fantasium.

See, I'm looking at starting to play Corvus Belli Infinity, and apparently there aren't a lot of US distributors who carry it.

The first store we stopped at was The Game Shelf.  It was a ways out of the way for us, but seemed to be in a pretty good location. The small facing expanded rapidly into a large space once you walked in. It was brightly-lit and had a decent selection of games.  We were both greeted almost as soon as we walked in the door. I forgot to ask him about his special order process (which is always super-important to me), but the gentleman behind the counter was very friendly, very chatty, and - just as importantly - treated Steph as a customer instead of some sort of add-on to my presence. It was a good experience, so I bought a thing of paint and Steph got a couple sets of dice. And we went on.

I'm not going to name the next place we went. It was just a bit down the hill from The Game Shelf, though. It was small, and cramped, and there was an aroma that was ... less-than-pleasant. There was some sort of event going on (it sounded like a regular D&D group), and so they had a table in the middle of their front room that made two-thirds of the shop inaccessible. We were both ignored when we walked in. I spotted a few things that had clearly been on their shelf for a while (like a copy of the original 51st State) - that's not a bad thing, but it was prominently displayed. That's weird, as most retailers try to highlight hot-and-new items or rare-and-expensive items.  I bought a thing of paint and got out of there as quickly as I could.

Finally, we headed to The Game Matrix.  Over the years, The Game Matrix has been very hit-or-miss. They have (or can get) just about everything, but their customer service ranges from spectacular to nonexistent. You just never know what's going to happen when you walk in.  We were promptly greeted by an enthusiastic employee who - when he heard what I was looking for - found the one Infinity product they had in stock on the shelf. "We also have the RPG," I was told. When I asked about a specific product, he checked availability at their distributor without hesitating. Or ignoring other customers.

None of these stores is likely to lure me away from Fantasium on the regular, but for occasional special orders that Fantasium can't get? I'd rather spend at Game Shelf or Game Matrix than online.