[Note: This is part two of my mini-series where I list the top ten traits of my ideal game store. For part one, head on over here.]
5. Friendly, Engaged Staff that foster a welcoming environment
Being knowledgeable about one’s trade is great, but it does a store little good to have knowledgeable jerks on staff. Good service is important. Being inviting and inclusive is important. Providing an environment that’s safe – both physically and intellectually – is important. I appreciate stores that have a policy to reduce swearing and eliminate harassment. Goodness knows I’m no verbal prude, but it’s nice to have a safe haven from that kind of conduct, particularly for our youngest generation of gamers. Besides all that, I love it when staff get excited about games that others like. It doesn’t matter if the staff necessarily likes the game, but when they take joy in their customers’ delight, that’s a great sign.
4. Space to play
Raise your hands if you’ve ever been to an organized gaming event where the organizer crammed 48 participants into a space sized for 16. Now, keep your hands up if you’ve ever had someone else’s game from a different event/tournament spill into your table space because there wasn’t really enough room for both events to go on?
You can put your hands down now. It’s happened to us all at some point. I understand that gaming space is extremely pricey – tables and chairs aren’t cheap, and square footage is immeasurably more expensive. If you want me to buy and play games at your store, though, I need a place to play where I’m not a sardine and I’m not encroaching on someone else’s game.
The final three are not just vitally important to gain my regular, repeat business, but they’re also necessary for me to bring Mrs. Blogadin into the store. If these three aren’t present, then my wife isn’t present (she’s a gamer, too!), and that means less time where I’m present.
3. Clean and well-lit
This seems like it should be a no-brainer, but I can’t count how many times I’ve been in stores where dust is caked on stock, fingerprints are all over the display case glass, or lights are out. Worse yet is when bathrooms are in dire need of TLC. Space may be expensive, but Windex, Lysol, and paper towels aren’t. Besides, if I see dust on stock, that tells me it’s been there a while, and that’s not usually a good thing for anybody.
2. No foul scents
For some reason, a store free of olfactory funk seems like one of the most difficult goals for hobby stores to achieve. The odiferous mix of fast food, pizza, and the frequent failings of personal hygiene is enough to make me want to exit a store immediately after I make my purchase. I’m guessing there’s a reason that store owners are rarely able to successfully combat the smell. I’m also guessing that there’s a solution for every obstacle they can offer up. One such tool, which also happens to be my number one requirement, is…
1. Proper air conditioning
Not floor fans, not ceiling fans, and not swamp cooling. No sir…there is no replacement for proper, frigid air conditioning! Failure to keep the store cool is the prime sin. Never forget that the bright glowy thing up in the daytime sky is a GIANT BALL OF NUCLEAR-POWERED FIRE, and it generates many degrees of heat. Eighty degrees is not sufficient to combat such an enemy. Seventy-eight degrees is not sufficient for gaming events. I walked into one store in the valley this summer where it was 80 degrees inside on a day where it was 110 outside, and they were about to host a tournament where they expected around 30-40 people. No bueno. That’s stunningly awful, actually, and I left just as soon as I could. I get it, store owners – electricity is expensive! VERY expensive, even! I’ll not be buying and gaming in a place, though, that has me sweating through my clothes when I can save gas and game comfortably in my own home.
I can’t say it enough – air conditioning. Have it, crank it, and bask in it while the rest of Arizona swelters.
So that’s my top ten must-haves for my ideal game store. Unfortunately, I haven’t happened upon a single store that has all ten yet. That’s not to say our local stores aren’t doing a great job – in fact, they do a pretty good job with most of these, and some do a better job than others. If I do happen upon the rare gem that offers all ten, though, I’ll be sure to sing their praises!
Happy gaming, all. Here’s to looking forward to GenCon!!!
← My Ideal Game Store – Part One