Once upon a time, there was a hobby store. We’ll call this place “Player’s Paradise” for the sake of keeping all involved anonymous. Player’s Paradise wasn’t the best hobby store anyone had ever seen, but it was the closest one around for a lot of hobbyists and gamers. Over time, a really big group of players started gathering at this store to play tabletop miniatures games. One game in particular was really expensive compared to the others, but also probably the most popular around Player’s Paradise. For the sake of reference, we will call this game
CombatHammer (too obvious) WarAxe (the lawyers say that’s a Napalm scented body spray) PlasticCrack (too obvious again) Warhammer (I give up).
As these players built up their armies, the company behind Warhammer found it appropriate to raise their prices significantly. Many considered picking up a second faction to play, but balked at the cost. Player’s Paradise didn’t want to lose any business, and began offering a discount off of the recommended prices for Warhammer products. But then one day someone in the group discovered how cheaply one could buy Warhammer products on the internet either via retailers or auction sites, and sales declined in the store.
After a couple of months, the owner of Player’s Paradise began to grumble a bit about the Warhammer players. They always came to play, but never bought anything, and the gaming tables took up a lot of room in the store that could be used for other things that people did spend money on. For every table for two Warhammer players, the shop could have room for six players for any number of card games where players were constantly buying new products. So the store was reorganized, and the miniatures group felt a bit of a squeeze.
With declining sales continuing, the store’s owner banned outside food and beverages. Players Paradise had always carried snacks and sodas at reasonable prices, but from then on that would be the only way to have food and drink available during games. This upset several regulars who felt nickeled-and-dimed, because they could buy that same soda at a convenience store for 25 cents less, not stopping to think about where that 25 cents was going.
Warhammer sales continued to drop, as did other product lines, and Player’s Paradise was forced to take the nuclear option: table fees. In order to come in and play at Player’s Paradise, gamers had to pay $2 for an armband good for that day only, or $50 for a year long membership program that exempted you from those daily fees.
Those who did support the store by purchasing products from them lost opponents who wouldn’t (or in some rare cases right before payday, couldn’t) pay the fees. Facing $5 per day to come in and play a single game with a Coke and some Twinkies or the like, many players opted to go elsewhere, setting up tables at home or making a longer drive. And within just a few months, Player’s Paradise closed its’ doors for good, having exhausted their resources and no longer making a profit.
Now, I’m as guilty as anyone, as I’ve purchased dozens of games online over the years. In fact, you might say that I’m guiltier, because most of my articles include links to Amazon where you can buy products I’m discussing. But I make a point to make a significant purchase everywhere I travel for gaming events. I’m lucky enough to do my gaming somewhere that has a kitchen, and the crew knows my order before I ever put it in. I want to say this loud and clear: I’d rather everything gaming you buy come from your Friendly Local Gaming Store.
Every Little Debbie cake you pay a premium for helps pay the electric bill so that the A/C can keep you cool. When you pay full price for a board game you’re contributing to having a collection of communal board games that anyone can borrow and play. Every dollar you don’t save on a pack of Magic cards goes towards hiring someone to organize tournaments in the store. And every twenty cent up-charge on a bottle of Mountain Dew goes towards keeping the doors open so that you have a place to come play.
When you click a link to Amazon on my site, there’s a special little code in the link that says if you buy that product, I get a cut of the sale. In turn, my revenue from that (of which I have none yet, and that’s fine) goes towards two things: A more robust site to host these articles upon (i.e. keeping the lights on), and to cover my gaming budget at my local store. If I could refer you there from over the internet, I would. In fact, consider this article a referral to go support your Friendly Local Gaming Store. Tell ’em The Tabletop General sent you (they totally know who I am </snark>).
— The Tabletop General