Shopping for games can be a controversial topic. The push for people to shop locally is strong in this hobby, because our reliance on play space, and the fact that local gaming stores provide a place for us to do our hobby. However, sometimes those stores have to mark their prices up a little higher to stay in business. That begs the question, how do you decide where you are going to buy your games?
I love this hobby, and I want to continue to see it grow. Seeing the increasing selection of board games in stores like Target and on online retailers like Amazon does make me happy. It means that the mainstream population is being introduced to a wider array of games. That being said however, I do not often buy games from these stores. When I buy games, I try to focus on supporting people I like in the community.
When spending money on a game, I try to offer support to people who I like or feel deserve the support. Now this can mean a variety of things for actually shopping. I am lucky in that I have almost ten local game stores within 40 minutes from my house. Of those ten, I really like the people who run four of the stores. If you are wondering those stores are The Wandering Dragon, Draxtar Games, Paper or Plastic Sports and Games, and Dean’s Dugout. All four of these stores are run by friendly and helpful store owners who care about the hobby. I frequently spend time in these stores, and I try to buy games from them as frequently as possible because I appreciate the space and the environment they provide. I know that these owners will go out of their way to help me. That being said, there are some game stores in my area that I will not shop at or spend my money at. They have been blatantly disrespectful to me. If these were the only stores available in town, I STILL would not spend my money there. I also understand the problem many people have with not having a local game store. If you do not have a local store, really your only option is to buy online.
Friendly local game stores (FLGS) are not the only place I will buy games though. I also like to directly support designers or small publishers. Most of the time this happens in the way of Kickstarter. If I see a small game with a designer I respect, I will definitely back it. In general, designers will gain my respect through out strong interactions with the community. A designer that is active in a positive way will likely have my support, as long as they are trying to put out a quality product. This policy has actually caused me to get some hate from game store owners who strongly dislike Kickstarter…you really can’t win sometimes. I will also buy games directly from a small publisher when offered from their website or at conventions. Once again, when I consider buying from a publisher, I try to keep in mind the publisher’s actions. Publishers who are committed to their product and the community are more likely to gain my support. Now this policy is in place for multiple reasons. One, I like supporting the publishers and designers who are making the games I love. Two, many times the games I back on Kickstarter will not go to retail, or will not be easily accessible at local game stores.
Now, just to be clear, while I consider these things…I stand on no moral high ground. There are times that I really want a game that is being sold at over MSRP at my local game store, and Amazon has a really good deal (with two day shipping!). I am not against buying off Amazon in those cases….My general rule of thumb is if it is less than a twenty dollar difference, I will buy at the store or from the publisher. However, if a game has a twenty to thirty dollar difference, I will go the Amazon route. I live off a teacher’s salary after all! I try my best to support the industry whenever possible though. I think that where you shop is your business. No one should be shamed for where they choose to spend their money.