Editorial: GW Retail Stores Need To Go Away

dino1

Warhammer retail stores, at least outside the UK, are an anachronism, and for the health of the company need to go the way of the dinosaur.

Think about this: what other successful minatures/game company has a huge chain of company-owned retail stores in the US, or anywhere else for that matter?  Short list, isn’t it?  Last time I checked, there are no Fantasy Flight, Privateer Press, Wyrd, or Corvus Belli stores anywhere in the US.  Is there a reason these successful game companies have avoided retail stores (also known as money pits) in favor of FLGS and webstores to distribute their amazing products? If course there is; it’s called good business sense.

It would be of interest to find out how many hobbyists (40K, 30K, AoS) have actually purchased their products in a GW retail store in the last 12 months.  Speaking for myself, I have bought a few pots of paint and a couple of boxes of scouts.  That’s it.  The rest of my purchases, which have been significant from a monetary standpoint, have been online (we have a dearth of FLGSs in the Milwaukee area), either from places like Dicehead, Warstore, Frontline Gaming, EBay or Forge World.  If there was a decent FLGS in the Milwaukee area, I am sure they would be taking a fair share of business from the GW store here.  Compared to my online purchases, the retail buying has been microscopic.  In todays world, why would I pay full retail (Forge World being the exception) when I can easily buy my toys at a 20-25% discount?  It makes absolutely no sense that GW thinks I would walk into a retail store and pay full price for something I can easily purchase elsewhere at a healthy discount.  Can anyone understand GW digging its heels in with regards to their retail outlets?  The most recent financials show that retail stores are a significant financial burden on the company.

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Moreover, a significant percentage of the gaming community utilize FLGS for gaming, hobbying (I think I just made that word up), socializing and tournament play.  GW really gut-punched themselves a few years back when they changed the rules for FLGS/Webstore distribution and costs.  What were you thinking GW?  Perhaps your retail model works in the UK, but a HUGE percentage of your sales are derived from the US and International (from my perspective) marketplace.   Local gaming stores, as distribution and sales outlets for your products, are generally more efficient, cost effective and do a much better job of getting the word out.  Several FLGS are supported by both advertising and word of mouth on hobby podcasts that are listened to by thousands of your customers each week.  How much does this cost you?  Not a single quid!  Not one!  I’m no economics wonk, but I know that free is good, at least when it comes to distribution and advertising.

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Now GW, what should you do to fix this?  A few suggestions.  First, change your business model to make it easier for FLGS (and webstores) to distribute and sell your product.   As stated earlier, these folks are like arteries carrying the lifeblood of your business; why not keep them as healthy as possible?  Something as simple as again allowing them to actually show your product on their websites instead of having to play email tag to get simple list of models and prices.  Second, and this is a big one; consider, in a market as vast as the US, opening a Warhammer World type venue similar to the one in the UK.  Crazy talk?  Simply look at the success of Warhammer World.  I truly believe that a US venue would be even more successful for GW in terms of both financials and hobby awareness.  How many major tournament events could be hosted here?  How many thousands of US hobbyists who will never have the resources to make the pilgrimage to Nottingham would walk though the doors?  Sure, I get it, nothing like the original and all that rubbish.  But wait, you are running a business, yes?  Third, move to expand your distribution beyond FLGS/Webstores.  The US, as well as many other countries, have so many “big box” stores that could be targeted with the right product and pricing.  Imagine walking into a Walwart or Target (in the US) and seeing a box of Space Marines for sale?  Yes, I have seen the rumors and pictures;  it appears you are moving in this direction.  Great news.

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Finally, and this is the horse pill, shut down those bloody retail stores.  You will lose no market share, you will lose no product awareness;  supporting and growing local stores will take care of that for you.  Do the numbers, and with a straight face, tell me that shuttering your stores will not improve your profitability.  Look to your competitors/partners.  As mentioned earlier, Fantasy Flight, Privateer Press, Wyrd, Corvus Belli, e.g., are profitable and growing companies that have NO company owned retail outlets.  Also, think about this.  Several Fantasy Flight games, with a GW license, are sold without dedicated GW retail; and are sold successfully.  They make GW money.

A blank, generic strip mall against a blue sky with an empty parking lot.

GW has been moving in the right direction.  Betrayal at Calth, reviving Specialty Games, campaign books, bundles that actually save the consumer money.  Beyond that, the new codex release mechanic is something I like.  Combine a few new, interesting models (i.e. Tau; Ghostkeel, Stormsurge, Breachers) with campaign books and give a basically reprinted codex new life.  I am excited about the hobby’s future; call me a fan boy.  Don’t really give a rip.  When the company that created the Grimdark starts doing the right things, they deserve credit.  Just don’t stop there, GW.  Keep this up, and I can only wish you fair winds and following seas.

dino3

How many of you still buy the majority of your product from GW retail stores?

  • I was under the impression that their stores are barely even for veterans or players, and more about having your brand in the streets for teens and parents to walk into with their kids.

    Its about the only way they will attract new customers (however fleeting their patronage), due to a complete lack of outside marketing. I know WD monthlies were sometimes sold in some magazine stores over here in Berlin, but stock for that was maybe 1 or 2 issues at best. I am not aware of WD Weekly being sold the same way, but even if it was, the amount of exposure they’d get through their overpriced marketing pamphlet would be minimal.
    Nevermind that even their appearances at expos and conventions are jokes in and of themselves.

    Sure, people can always stumble over it online, but that and word of mouth are bound to be full of negative messages about GW’s business practices and game balance. Nevermind that in a store, you can actually see the product in front of you, not just on a screen. It has a wholly different magic that way.

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe independent stores are the way to go and vastly better for the customers, but I can definitely see why GW wouldn’t want to dump its only relatively stable physical presence out there.

    • Secundum

      You’ve got it in a nutshell. iirc GW even said the exact same thing at one point.

    • 6Cobra

      I don’t know about your area, but the two GW stores within driving distance of me are located in sterile, out-of-the-way, pedestrian-less strip malls. There aren’t any families with kids strolling along there who just happen to pop in. I can think of three GW retail stores that were in heavily trafficked malls or shopping centers, but GW closed them all down, IOT move them to the middle of nowhere with cheaper rents. Kinda’ defeats the purpose.

      • Over here in Berlin, they’re all in high civilian traffic areas. The biggest one is located right in a mall-like shopping center in the middle of the city, where zoo and various sights are located. Not just that, it is also right next to the escalator, so people pass it by all the time to get to other stores, be it clothing, merchandise, tourist junk or cafes.

        So yeah, that store in particular gets GW a lot of attention that way.

        • Muninwing

          our old store was in a mall, just outside a big-box store that had its own entrance.

          it was across from a cafe, with external tables. at some point later it was bought by Starbucks, but the model still stands.

          it was within sight of the elevator and stairs, and a short jaunt around the circle to the escalators.

          it was up one level from the open area that led down to the food court (the stairs led directly there)

          the mall raised the rent. they wanted to get rid of stores that catered to kids, because parents have the money and don’t like to be disturbed by kids. you know… the opposite reason of GW’s marketing strategy (get new kids in, because they’ll spend more of their parents’ money).

          the year before i had worked there, our manager got an award at the manager’s conference for sales. our sales were pretty consistent. yet, the moment they had the excuse, they bailed on the mall and didn’t bother to replace it with any sort of one-man presence.

          there were even plans to put it in closer to the college town north on the highway — there was a strip mall that was undergoing renovation at the time. had they gotten in there, they’d have been well-placed… it’s now the busiest shopping area in the region that isn’t a mall.

          it really is one dropped ball after another with GW-US.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            they cut most of their middle management (ie area managers) and it shows. No local knowledge = bad decisions.

      • euansmith

        Apparently many small chain fast food outlets are run to launder money from some more profitable illegal revenue stream…

        • Severius_Tolluck

          Do they or do they not sell chicken of a Mexican variety?

          • euansmith

            There may be chicken involved.

          • Severius_Tolluck

            are they maybe siblings of some sort?

        • dave long island

          That’s exactly right. You know Catherine Austin Fitts the former HUD assistant secretary has written that if someone could throw a switch and make all illegal drug dealing disappear the US economy and banking in particular would be devastated. People’s 401k’s would tank. There is an enormous amount of drug money sloshing around the economy providing ready capital for business ventures such as fast food outlets. Its a way to launder the money.

          • Chris. K Cook

            This explains the reluctance to legalise…

      • I live in an area of the US that has a large GW presence. Not as big as it used to be (peaked at 8 stores and a Bunker within a 50 miles radius), but there are still 4 stores left in the region. From North to South:

        1. Near a major mall in an affluent area, on one of the main avenues that approach the mall. Used to be IN the mall in a very high-profile suite. (also: this store is the reason why Starbucks has an official “no WAAAGH!ing” policy. No kidding.)

        Somehow staying afloat, but it brings in very little new blood, so its days are numbered. Has been the source of several information “leaks” over the last several years. Where HCOs go to die.

        2. In a major pedestrian- and family-friendly shopping center near a movie theater, busy train station, and a college’s satellite campus, but facing a smaller parking lot. Used to be in a more visible suite in the same shopping center.

        Still doing okay almost despite its less-visible location. Now the only store in a mostly-residential 20-mile bubble that used to contain 2 other stores and a Bunker, it’s been feeding on the corpses of its one-time battle brothers for 2 years. No telling how long that will keep working.

        3. In a BIG strip mall anchored by a major grocery store on one end and a sporting goods reatiler on the other. Lots of foot traffic, visible from the freeway, near several schools and lots of residential but also kind of in the ghetto. Nearly on the front doorstep of one of the largest military bases in the country. Oldest surviving store at 9 years, original location. According to the former head of GW NA, the lease on this place is “good forever”.

        Survives almost entirely on Army grunts blowing their hazard pay after a trip to the sandbox, but actually has more walk-in traffic than any of the others too. Slowly strangling itself simply because it’s been around too long to remain year-over-year profitable.

        4. Near a pedestrian- and family-friendly shopping center in a growing area, attached to the side of a major big-box retailer. Visible from the main road. Very similar to no. 2; the property is owned by the same company.

        A tiny store in a mediocre location. I have no idea how it makes any money, and neither does the guy running it.

        • Severius_Tolluck

          Hmm let me guess. #1 Orland, #2 Downer’s? 3# Randhurst? #4 Geneva?

          • Nope. Though it doesn’t surprise me much that there’s another clump of stores out there that so greatly resembles mine.

    • Emprah

      GW desperately needs to do more marketing and advertising. And its coming from a person who hates ads.

      • They do plenty. They’re called Hobby Centers.

        • Noveltyboy

          So in the age of online and social media how effective is a static store? Not all stores are welcoming, some staff act like pushy sales people/plastic crack dealers when all you want us a quiet browse or to see someone using the plastic soldiers in a real game.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      I agree, I don’t think they should dump them either. However they need to radically remake them.

      The first thing I would do is make them generic wargaming stores. Why shouldn’t GW sell X-Wing and make some profit from it? Or Wyrd minis stuff? Lets see GW use their retail space effectively and that means selling things that people want and that can turn a profit.

      Secondly Forgeworld needs to be in all the stores, with common items available from stock and rare items available to buy in. This alone would increase footfall hugely.

      Thirdly lets have cool things to buy like T-Shirts, mugs, hoodies etc. Use that IP Games Workshop!

      Lastly sell the GW-IP based computer games. People often go into GW stores thinking they sell console games, so why not use that mistake to hook people on the GW IP?

      • rpiazza72

        I agree with everything, and I think these are rally good points, except the selling other company minis. I could see 40k FFG stuff but other companies minis? They are a mini company not a market company. I don’t think expanding the market share of other companies is something they would do or even make sense. The money they might make won’t offset what they competition would make. I can’t see a Niketown carrying Adidas shoes nor do I think they should. But everything else you suggest I think makes sense.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          I am old enough to remember when White Dwarf contained adverts for other companies, and for films, books etc not connected to GW IP. GW also used to make minis themselves for other IPs, like the various 2000 AD spinoffs, so GW have done this to an extent in the past.

          Covering the wider sci-fi and fantasy gaming world and the general ‘nerdsphere’ (sci-fi books etc) brought people into GW’s sphere of infuence. Once they had that WD in hand they might be tempted by one of GW’s products, or at least made familiar with the IP. Back then the market was fragmented and GW had not yet achieved dominance, so it made sense to cater for other company’s customers.

          We are actually in a similar situation today, the market is fragmented. IF GW saw themselves as ambassadors for the tabletop gaming hobby as a whole, rather than their own limited corner of it, it would benefit everyone. They would benefit from fans of other games and other IPs coming into their stores, plus fans of console gaming. They would benefit because they could leverage their High Street position to make profits from selling lines other companies have had to pay the research and design costs of. GW just skim off the profit like any retailer. Diversifying their retail offer would make their position safer, at the moment they are dependent on a single IP and single game.

          I don’t see any way this could affect them badly. Other games are available and promoted widely online and in the real world (X-Wing is in book stores in the UK for example), it isn’t possible to keep their competitors a secret, so why not build and benefit from the diversity? A rising tide raises all boats.

          • V10_Rob

            They are blind to the cross-pollination amongst the various types of geeks and gamers.

            All they see is GW customers being enticed away, to spend money on other companies.

            They do not see the reverse, where other companies’ customers buy GW plastic crack as a result of contact with GW gamers.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            you are right about how they see it- hence their fearful repetition of the mantra ~ “Games Workshop Hobby”…

          • rpiazza72

            I’m old enough to remember those early days as well. Your description of tapping into general nerdom is a good one, but others are already doing that in a better way then GW can. Hobby chains your local gaming place etc. I don’t see the value in investing more into the store front model when they aren’t a retailer but a manufacturer. What they should do is follow the lead of companies like Privateer Press who have less restrictive policies on how and where their games are sold. The response below from another reader where you play Magic and see GW stuff already happens at my local shop. GW should tap into working with them to make that happen more often not try to replicate it at their own expense. In the US they are a waste in Europe its a different story.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            we don’t really have hobby chains and there are few FLGS in the UK (less than GW stores).

          • Severius_Tolluck

            And those that are around lack gaming space most of the time!

      • eMtoN

        I think *someone* could do this; however I don’t think GW can pull it off.

        Any group that tried this needs to have strong marketing knowledge. That isn’t GW. They seem to bounce from one thing to another to see what sticks – which is odd for a company as old as they are.

        I’ve seen a few groups try to do it like Hobby Town USA, but even they have pretty much dropped GW as a vendor.

        • rpiazza72

          That’s my point GW isn’t a retailer but a manufacturer. Focus on being a better retail partner not being a retailer yourself. You try to be all things to all people and you end up being nothing to anyone.

      • Severius_Tolluck

        Wizards of the coast did this for a while. They also used to hold lan events with pcs. They even sold GW and White Wolf products, which used to be the only place I used to be able to play them!

  • Walter Bravenboer

    The Stores are one the strongest points for GW, I buy lots in the store in Rotterdam, I just pop in, meet people, have fun and play.
    So in my mind, they should stay. Perhaps this is more in larger areas?

    • Grim Badger

      Cant agree more. The stores are one of GW’s biggest positive points. They should, however, have more focus on gaming nights and such.

    • Tzompantli

      I am from the states but have been to Gw stores in Amsterdam and Helsinki. The European stores are quite different – still in high trafficked areas. The US ones (also the one in Montreal) are in weird, hidden depressing locations near other strange obscure stores. I think they are actually bad for the brand, unlike the ones I saw in Europe. Very unpleasant to visit.

      • Sebastien Bazinet

        The one in Montreal is actually in the biggest shopping mall downtown but it’s so small you can’t even game properly in it.

        If they would move to a bigger location, maybe not in an expensive mall it would definitely help them.

        They should also sell ALL things GW, like the FFG board games, access to easy FW ordering in-store and such.

        Also, I don’t understand why I should pay more at the GW store than at my FLGS.

        Would kill for a Warhammer World tough

        • Adam Murray

          I think that’s the way forward. Less stores but with more space for gaming. If people could see more of a community going on it’d be better.

      • Brandon Rutter

        Yes, in the States too(Chicago-burbs), and this seems to be a common theme for the US-sketchy stores in almost abandoned shopping centers.

        • Boondox

          Low demand for a niche product forces you to maximize your profits by setting up in the cheapest places you can. Most of which have very little traffic so their potential for drawing in new customers is limited….

          • eMtoN

            I think the point of the article is that the “cheapest place you can” would be on a shelf in already existing locations.

            The absolute best place (us centric) is on a shelf right next to competitors products. That way you can benefit from the mutual advertising (ha!) that each company, and the shop owner, is doing.

      • Wes Thompson

        In Minnesota, the GW store is a fraction of the size of the 3x gaming stores nearby (that also carry the GW lines). And Tzompantil can’t be more honest about location of the Minnesota GW store. Your task: Spot the GW store from the street. (P.S. There are also two restaurants in this picture.)

    • Zingbaby

      I’d rather see more local hobby shops – but with GW or no GW, hobby shops are risky businesses to start in the US.

      • Walter Bravenboer

        It seems to me the writer is unaware of the world outside the US, GW shops are, just like FLGS in general, quite a social meeting point. The US is, due to its size among others, a whole different market, the distances involved are probably also an issue for many players.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          I think that used to be the case around here (SW England) but a lot of GW stores are very small or keep restricted hours. One or two seem busy, but mostly with kids and mostly just Saturdays. Even the biggish store in Poole only has a few tables.

      • Muninwing

        i have long wondered if that’s because we are so used to unified, standardized stores that we resist those that are obviously not as polished.

        now, imagine if “war world” was a thing, and they sold all sorts of games… modeling supplies, card games, board games, etc. and imagine if they had regular nights to play them, and events, and the like.

        if they were regular and expected, i wonder if they’d be as risky.

        • Hasbro seemed to think they were a bad idea back in 2001ish when they killed off WotC’s retail arm, and I figure they know a few things about moving product.

      • DeadlyYellow

        It’s hard for them to really fight against online retailers. 52% to 65% MSRP cost to stock, and people expect the store to match the 20% to 30% discount offered by volumetric sites like Miniature Market or Cool Stuff Inc.

        The way needed to make it work is to really grow and maintain a strong dependable community, but that’s kinda like building a house of cards.

        • Zingbaby

          Oh I totally agree. Bottom line opening a hobby ‘gaming’ store is extremely risky.

          As much as people want to blame everything on GW they have very little to do with this, despite themselves being a real challenge to work with.

          • DeadlyYellow

            I wouldn’t know too much about that. My working with them on a business level was… pleasant, compared to some distributors (namely Alliance Games.)

          • Severius_Tolluck

            Oh Alliance, such a necessary devil I’d rather not work with. Southern is the only other distributor and they mispack things all the time! Do I want one type of incompetence, or the other?

    • Spacefrisian

      I only been to the one in Groningen (yes thats also in the Netherlands, in case some US guy was wondering), that guy been sitting there for over a year now and he is the entire opposit of what i usually read about 1 man store GW peeps. Friendly guy, doesnt rush in to sell you some paint pots and tell you how the game should be played and such.

      I think he is actually from England, he has that Brittish accent.

      • The “reputation” of HCOs stems largely from a few bad eggs, none of whom actually lasted long with the company (with one notable exception that I’m aware of, but there are extenuating circumstances in that instance). The huge majority of GW staff I’ve ever met have been very friendly and quite helpful, and haven’t been pushy or sleazy at all.

        Yes, the stores are expected to post consistent year-over-year profits and they WILL can the HCO if he doesn’t meet that growth requirement, but so long as you’re at least breaking even GW’s corporate overlords couldn’t care less how you run your shop.

    • I think it depends on whether or not the local gamer population has other gathering hubs.

      My area does NOT lack for other gaming stores: there are 4 that I know of within about 50km of me, all of which offer more space, bigger communities, and better experiences than the 4 Hobby Centers in the same radius.

      Heck, two of them have restaurants and bars attached, and will bring your food and drinks out to you in the gaming area if you ask. Now THAT’s “outrageous customer service”.

  • Dave Scammell

    I can only speak from a UK perspective but I do agree, an alternate take could very well work in the US. In the UK the stores feel like a much more ingrained part of the hobby and given how densely populated the country is they feel like a local institution, providing a proper entry point for new players, and a focal point for experienced ones.

    Or they would, if they employed more than one member of staff to give the newbies the time and attention they need to be guided into the hobby and if their prices were a little fairer to not scare off newbies and to stop veterans shopping literally everywhere else for a more affordable GW fix…

    I used to love how they were in the early-mid 2000s, where a shop full of friendly, chatty staff would be more interested in getting you gaming, rather than today where we have the one terrified store manager desperate to sell you whatever’s on their sales target so they can keep an underpaid job that siphons away at what was once a sincere passion.

    • Muninwing

      the one-man stores have high burnout rate, and are not sustainable.

      it was a good idea on paper to reduce overhead. it will not last. like many things, it’s a bad idea in practice.

      • PanzerDan

        One Man store were good If they were planning just to sell Models, However everything extra they threw on those guys was too much.

        • Actually, that IS all they require HCOs to do. Everything else that most stores do is entirely on the initiative of the HCO and is mostly for the sole purpose of attracting people to the store in order to sell them stuff.

          Most HCOs I know and have known have worked 60ish hours a week (20 of it unpaid), breaking their backs just to keep their store afloat.

      • Adam Murray

        Yeah I that sense of desperation that comes of them whenever you walk into a store means I only go in there to buy the odd pot of paint. The stores are unsustainable it’d be better if each general area had a larger gaming site that could host tournaments. A bit like Wayland Games do.

        • Muninwing

          i wonder what would have happened if the Barnes&Noble/Walmart/Starbucks business model had been applied to hobbies and games…

          if some company had started buying up the smaller stores, running them more efficiently, giving proper support and space for their needed avenues of retail, and normalized the whole market.

          imagine if there was a hobby/game chain that you could find everywhere, that held weekly nights for given games, did release parties, hosted tournaments, and added a sense of professionalism to the market.

          (well, i suppose that would be B&N, not walmart.)

          of course, i wonder how many people would stop playing in said stores, due to them being “too mainstream”

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            there are big Hobbycraft stores here, but my local one stopped carrying games stuff a while ago, first dropping FoW and then Gw.

          • Zingbaby

            Well for one thing, they would never do that because our hobby isn’t marketable on that scale. If anything, we’d get an isle of select top-selling boxes (space marines only) in an AC Moore or Hobby Lobby.

          • Muninwing

            see, i wasn’t imagining those.

            i was imagining a store that sold games, had demos for people to play, and operated like a successful FLGS, but on a larger scale.

            some hobby models… but not the woodwork, scrapbooking, kid’s diorama, fake flowers, potpourri, meaningless twig ball, craft paint… more games and less crafts.

            i know, with how hard the FLGS survival rate is, why it doesn’t exist. but i have to imagine that it would be more profitable if run on the larger scale. had this started back when fantasy and scifi were just starting to be seen as more mainstream, or even just before, maybe it would have been possible.

          • Me

            Or WM of the past. Today WM == sux, but it use to be pretty good before Sam died and for a short time after. Then they went from Customer is #1, Employee is #2, and Shareholders is #3 (which worked out well for the shareholder) to a nosedive. Now it’s just Shareholders are #1, and everyone else can bite it. I have not willingly walked into a WM Supercenter in years.

      • Svenone

        Don’t forget the fact that these one man stores close every day for 30 minutes during their operation hours for a lunch break for the manager. One man stores basically exist to push people to the webstore (defeating the purpose of a concrete retail space).

      • Three years. That’s how long an HCO lasts on average. After that, the smart ones quit, and the stubborn ones get fired.

        Out of 150ish employees in North America, I know of only a handful of HCOs who have held the job for five years, and one who has managed it for seven, but only did so by hopping from store to store and thereby staying one step ahead of the axe (and most recently by escaping North America entirely).

        It’s not the one-man locations that are unsustainable. It’s GW’s expectation of year-over-year profits, every year, regardless of all other factors. Economy in the toilet? Don’t care, make 3% more this year. We moved your store to a bad location? Don’t care, make 3% more this year. Fantasy Flight is kicking our asses? Don’t care, make 3% more this year. Discontinue your store’s most profitable line? Don’t care, make 3% more this year.

        Combine that with a flat-out abusive approach to personnel management and it’s no surprise their attrition rate is so high.

    • JJ

      From the prospective of the US. They should really do away with the 1 man stores and focus on 10 major population centers running larger “battle bunker” multi man shops.

      • Boondox

        I agree but didn’t they try that before and it didn’t work out well? I remember a slew of big GW stores in the US closing in the 90’s…

        • JJ

          See my comment about 10 major population centers. They kept trying to expand into more markets. Large multi man stores just won’t work in the smaller markets, which is why they failed in the 90’s. I totally see a store in NYC/LA/Chicago/ATL/DFW but is it really worth it to have stores that GW really won’t support (AKA 1 man store) in places like Columbia SC.

          • Muninwing

            it’s part of the current business model to always be looking to expand.

            the issue was in part that they hadn’t anticipated (for some stupid reason) rents increasing, so they had misestimated profits. and in areas like Boston, where rents have been increasing steadily for decades, that was just a stupid move.

            management only wanted profitable stores above a certain rate. when rents increased, that became harder and harder to meet. eventually, it wasn’t worth the maintenance to them. but partially due to unrealistic expectations.

          • JJ

            I agree but I think one of the major flaws is seeing stores as profit centers in themselves. Want to freak out a GW store Manager, tell them you will order online.

            These stores get no credit for websales, even if they come from their region. So the local GW store goes out teaches Timmy to play and he loves it, but it mom gets lazy at christmas and orders his present online they get no credit. (perhaps GW stores should get some credit for web orders in their region) That way they could show some impact for their efforts.

            These stores should be seen as outreach centers first then seen as possible profit centers.

          • Muninwing

            i wholeheartedly agree.

            the new era is online. but you can’t play 40k online (yet), and any simulation that you could use (i remember there was one for WHF) wouldn’t be the same.

            the major asset and resource that GW created over 30 years was community. they have disregarded the effect that a properly-functioning community can have on sales… and thus profits.

            people who used to field armies of all GW models because when GW was doing tournaments the rule was “at least 50% GW,” or “at least 75% GW” and their events were wroth going to.

            people who would buy anything if their army had a logo on it.

            people who have stuck around through good and bad editions of their codex.

            people who would add another army to their collection if they had the space or the time or the money (and sometimes despite one or more of those), and can justify adding to the amount they already have even if they will never play with the whole of it.

            these are the demographic GW should be cultivating, not whining about the new players. new players come when there’s a mystique about the game that promotes it, which naturally occurs when there is a thriving community.

            the stores should be a means to an end. not sales. community.

          • Boondox

            DC is a pretty large metropolitan area and their battle bunker didn’t fair so well. I like the idea of them in major population centers but I doubt the current management would even consider it….

  • Thomson

    In Berlin Germany the GW stores are some of the very few places where you can find tables to play on. Without them 40k would be dead.

    • ghorros

      That’s not true. Battlefield Berlin and Funtainment both have tables. If you reserve a table in Battlefield you even get free coffee!

  • Rufus Der Eisenhans

    This is coming, as most of the articles do, from an american centric point of view. Its a British company and the Americans dont understand the European culture and how our shops are laid out. The highstreet is a very different place to Shopping Malls in the US.
    I know he suggests that in the UK it may be different but with limited advertising, the stores are critically important.
    In lots of cases GW is used as a sort of Crèche where parents leave their children gaming and then come back and pick them up. This is a major intro into the hobby.

    • 6Cobra

      So keep the shops open in the UK (and apparently in The Low Countries and Germany as well, based on other comments) and close them down in the US.

      • Vicente Sampedro Burgos

        Also happens in Spain, I think the problem is only in US, I keep going to the Valencia store every once/twice every month

    • Secundum

      Well, nobody ever accused BOLS writers of being any good.
      And I agree with the crèche thing-my parents did that with me back in 3rd ed when I was just starting.

      • Walter Bravenboer

        I love the way the little kids’ eyes light up when they see the awesome models…. In this digital age a little ‘analogue’ gaming can’t hurt.

        • Personally, I love the way their parents’ eyes start bleeding when they see the prices. It always brings a tingle of joy to my cold, black heart.

          • Walter Bravenboer

            And the notion ‘you have to paint them yourself’ 😉

          • Parents actually tend to like that one. It’s artistic, teaches goal-setting and patience, and it’s quiet. Depends on the kid’s temperament, of course, but most parents seem to see the creative aspect of the hobby as a plus.

    • Boondox

      Would you agree then that the British centric business model that GW currently employs does not take into account the many differences between the UK market and the US market? Which may be preventing GW from maximizing their profits in the US? That to me seems to be their number one weakness from my viewpoint…

    • The BoLS crew are all Americans as far as I know, so is it any surprise they write from an American perspective?

      I believe they would welcome articles from contributors in the rest of the world who may be able to provide different viewpoints, if you were interested in providing a counterpoint to this article. I’d be very interested in seeing it, personally.

  • Inian

    Never had GW stores anywhere near where I have lived and honestly I never missed them. If they drop they physical stores it would have no impact whatsoever on the vast majority of GW-players in my country. Most towns don’t even have a FLGS, we rely on gaming clubs instead for playing areas (or our homes) and buy everything online. The fact that GW are messing with online retailers has caused a lot of players to instead order chinese knock-offs since we can’t order the minis we want from the stores we want.

    If GW do close their stores they would tap a big hole in their economy and that could lead to better priced products which in turn I think would stem the tide of knock-offs being purchased (since price is the main reason people go to the chinese).

  • Painjunky

    Nice article. You are right. GW will have to close 90+% of their stores within the next 5 years in order to survive.

    Problem is they have been doing everything in their power to piss off and alienate LGS and their customers for years now.

    They have shot themselves in the foot with a howitzer.

    • And yet they’re about to open their 100th store. Clearly they’re suffering lol.

      • Captain Raptor

        They used to have a lot more than 100. That they’ve managed to crawl back to 100 is no cause for celebration.

        • Not sure where you get your numbers, but in May they are opening the 100th store in the United States. That has never happened before in the history of the company – so… haters gonna hate?

          They are celebrating with their big 100 promotions at all the North American stores.

          Sorry to disappoint.

          • Painjunky

            Where i am in OZ the stores are closing or downsizing and moving to small out of the way locations.

            Went into a GW on the Sunshine Coast recently. It was empty and depressing.

            LGS seem to be alot more busy and happy.

          • Boondox

            Don’t worry, the 100 store promotion will be disappointing enough. Just like the 25th Anniversary of 40K and all the other GW anniversaries in the past. None of them were ever worth the time and effort to get to a GW store. I learned that lesson the hard way…

  • Scarloochiw

    Quite the opposite direction GW is taking by restricting the selection of products FLGS can carry, and driving everyone to the GW Webstore.

  • Crevab

    Someone say Milwaukee? Wisconsin Party!

    • TK

      As a former Milwaukee player I can tell you that it is nothing to celebrate.

      • Severius_Tolluck

        Well once was a Mecca for gaming, now I can hardly find anything up there other than the odd club. Shame they lost Gencon.

      • Crevab

        pbbbbbbrt

  • Nicholas D Western

    Gw stores are perfect for new players. At least in my area the GW store is the only place you can find lower point games of 40K. All the FLGS have a 2000 point requirement to play at their “open play,” nights. When your a new player who is tryong out a game for the first time you don’t want to sink $500+ just to play a game.

  • Crevab

    Took a trip from Larne to Dublin last year. Found several FLGS.
    By the way you hear it talked about online those shouldn’t exist and GW is the only wargaming around

  • SirDavideo

    It’s been years since I’ve purchased anything directly from GW, always opt for the easier to get to and cheaper FLGS.

    But it’s not just the price, its the size of the stores. Most GW’s I’ve visited have one, maybe two 4×6 gaming tables and more often than not that feels like a squeeze.

    I remember how excited I was in when they announced the new “Warhammer” store in Tottenham court road. Rumours started flying that this was the London gaming hub, with plenty of gaming space. Then it opened and we found it was exactly the same as all the others, just with a different name.

    Close all the stores, start again with larger gaming venues in the major cities. Think the gaming floor at Warhammer World, but one in London, one in machster, Birmingham, etc.

  • Muninwing

    i was expecting something with substance. this was just a simplistic rant without even basic research into WHY GW still has (or first had, even) stores of their own.

    long story short: this is not “for the good of the hobby” it is “for the good of the company” — which translates to “for the profit of the shareholders and raises for upper management.” don’t delude yourself into thinking that this has anything to do with the good of the average player, unless you are one of the few who don’t understand that Laffer was wrong.

    the GW stores allow them to do a number of things.
    – look like the leader in the market, the only one large enough to have their own stores, and to capitalize on that perception
    – cater to the hobby end and not just the product… painting and modelling lessons, terrain building, all that can be run easily in a dedicated store, but take a number along with all the other product at a FLGS.
    – hold GW-specific events on their own schedule. i once (with permission of both TOs) played in two rounds of the Hardboyz, because at one store the release coincided with a M:tG release party, so they moved it a day. another store (the only oe in range at the time for me) decided to run a different event for the Nemesis Crown summer event, not bothering to take part in the GW one. they are subject to the decision and whim of the club, store owner, etc.
    – do special promotions through their own stores
    – have and promote recognizability for the parents of new players, creating legitimacy and promoting confidence (which leads to more sales)

    don’t get me wrong… these are not always great reasons. and they don’t always work. and they may or may not be worth (apart or together) keeping the stores. but at least give remote credit to the opposition, or your hugely one-sided article just comes across as pushy and ignorant.

    • Yep. Just more BoLS hate. “Stop liking what I don’t like”.

      • euansmith

        Stop stopping people stopping liking what I don’t like.

      • Muninwing

        funnier, since in my head i see “BoLS” and pronounce it “balls”

    • Jesse Cole Travis Mims

      lol

    • An_Enemy

      Most of your bullet points don’t actually happen. The most they’ll do as far as events go is “this is on sale now! come ‘ere!” or “buy a kit and paint it for some BS competition with no prizes and little participation.”

      Results may vary in your area, but I’m willing to bet my experience is closer to the norm than yours. One man stores don’t have time to run tournaments or events. Usually it falls to another player and then that burns out because their passion is all that’s motivating them.

      The local one man store had the manager called in for “training.” He literally had no one to work the store for him. How ridiculous is that? A customer ended up opening and closing the store for him.

      This is not how you run a company. This is how you kill a company with a thousand cuts.

      • Muninwing

        sadly, you are now correct.

        the store model *allows* them to do these things. but sabotaging their own plan with the one-man stores to save on overhead at the cost of the point of having stores is really the issue.

  • Jo Go

    i hope they don’t get rid of their retail stores. Just had one open in my area, southern Maine USA, last month and it has been great to have a place to play GW games and not be surrounded by magic players. Not having to listen to a lecture on why I shouldn’t be playing AOS and supporting GW, which happened at my FLGS, is also a plus. In my area the local FLGS don’t really support GW games or carry much stock at all so it is nice to have a local place that is focused on the games and products I like.

    • Jesse Cole Travis Mims

      Good on you !

    • Muninwing

      there were, once upon a time, six or so open in New England, and they closed them all (including the Boston battle bunker).

      they’ve since opened up a couple more, including a reopening of the old CT location north of Hartford, but none in MA (where most of them were).

      glad to see ME is getting some love.

    • crumbreaper

      that sums up how Games Workshop stores have been for me in the UK, like minded people sharing a joy for the hobby, watching new players and painters coming in and getting help and advice from staff and veterans alike, me personally I would be gutted to see the stores go. I also wonder how much it would cost GW to advertise to get the same level of exposure as it gets from stores – also – what magazines would it even advertise in??
      I hope they keep doing what they have always done and keep me in a hobby I love

      • Jo Go

        The last time I went in just to grab a few paint pots and ending up staying for almost a hour talking about horus hersey novels and watching two guys play orks vs CSM. Like you said, its great being around like minded people.

  • Valbarca

    Sory… but you sir are an idiot. Where are you buying you stuff from that your getting 20 to 25%off? Not gw online thats for your. The prices online are exactly the same as in store. If you are buying anywhere other than a gw store..gw online..or a legit bricks and morta gw autherised stockist then you are part of the problem not the solution. Thats all my input. Have a nice day.

    • Crevab

      What? You don’t think there are stores that offer discounts?

    • Erik Setzer

      This mentality that you MUST pay full retail price that GW demands, so that GW doesn’t have competition? THAT is the problem in a nutshell. People have always been looking for ways to save money, especially when faced with a company that keeps raising its prices unnecessarily and attempts to employ a monopolistic approach to prevent competition it knows it can’t win. GW is the only company with such draconian measures. People working around such nonsense aren’t “part of the problem,” they’re actively trying to work around the actual problem.

      • Muninwing

        “that keeps raising its prices unnecessarily”

        sorry, but there’s this thing called “inflation”

        most (note i don’t say all) of their unpopular price increases are just many years’ worth of inflation being added at once.

        a decade ago, core/regiment/troop boxes were $35. they did not contain all the bitz for kitting out a Sarge, heavy, and special, or the equivalents — and many armies had to either buy a separate kit or a metal blister to get the model or part they wanted. my old Dark Eldar came with one heavy option and no special, and not everything for a Sybarite. anything else, you had to outsource to other kits or metals.

        now, the same $35 is equivalent to $42.50, due to inflation (CPI measurement, US specific)

        current regiment boxes are closer to $40. they contain far more parts, and no need to outsource to another kit or model for all but a few parts.

        the kits have gotten better. the options are more likely to be on-hand and complete in the box. and the price hasn’t even fully adjusted for inflation.

        • An_Enemy

          “most (note i don’t say all) of their unpopular price increases are just many years’ worth of inflation being added at once.”

          No they’re not. This is a ridiculous statement. They used to increase prices twice a year. Inflation is annual. They still increase prices throughout the year they just stopped announcing it and they spread it out among their ranges in waves through “new models and reboxings.”

          Can you point out when GW could have possibly stacked multiple years of inflation(which is annual) into one increase when they increase prices throughout the year?

          Oh I got one. How about when they lowered prices for deflation?

          • Muninwing

            did you miss how they don’t increase the price on everything?

            they rotate it through. but some they miss for years.

            case in point: SM terminators. they were $50 in 2006 when they debuted. via CPI inflation, they should be over $60 now.

            they’re $50. still. so much for your “they increase prices twice a year” comment.

            new ones — with a ton of extra bitz, such as the Deathwing-specific kit — are $60. yep… the expensive premium kits are actually the same price as the old ones, when you adjust.

            and who ever said that they would reduce for deflation? first, can you show me where this deflation happened? second, can you show me what company that has made increases in price has thought it prudent to reduce prices on luxury goods when there has been deflation, and how they fared later?

            this is why i hate the complaining about GW prices. there’s a ton of factors that go into it, but the easy (and wrong) answer is to paint them as greedy evil masterminds. in reality, they’re behaving as corporations do.

            and if you have a problem with that, that’s a separate issue, and one you can get politically active about. but companies of a certain size and type (namely those with investors) are prettymuch forced to operate in certain ways. so unless our economic system changes, that’s not going away.

    • MPSwift

      Yeah…. that’s not true. Online stores that offer a discount on GW stock still have to buy it from GW at trade price meaning GW still make money on the kits sold. One would imagine this trade price is set so as to offer the same or a similar level of profit per kit as GW would get selling through their own stores without the trouble of staff, transportation, storage etc.

  • Bradley Macduff

    as a guy with only a GW store as my only store to buy product and have a public place to play no, dont close them. my community will go underground and evaporate overnight. my store brings us togeather because the store owner is passionate about the franchises and works hard to make his store the best experience it can be. if he shuts down 40k and fantasy die on the spot in my city

  • Erik Setzer

    The stores exist because all money from them goes to GW only, and there’s no competition within those walls. It’s that simple.

    If you buy a box of Space Marines from an FLGS, GW sees a cut of that end up going to the FLGS, rather than all of it coming back to them. Granted, sure, that’s fair, given that the FLGS is taking on all the risk of whether it’ll sell or not, and paying for the shelf space, all that jazz. But it’s kind of the same reason they don’t sell their own licensed products in their stores, and didn’t want to push LOTR that much, they wouldn’t be seeing all of the money come directly to them.

    But then there’s the other problem: FLGS’s are not likely to push just one product line. Heck, the more people get into, the better for them. So they’ll gladly sell – and push – other games. Then GW’s products have to compete in terms of quality and value directly against other products. They also have to compete for a consumer’s money against products that aren’t a 1:1 comparison, like board games, card games, RPGs, toys, and comics. And since an FLGS also doesn’t care whose stuff you’re buying as long as you’re buying stuff, there’s no rule dictating you must use GW models to play GW games, so people can buy stuff from other companies to use in 40K. Or even play older GW games without any kind of problem.

    So it’s not as simple as closing down the retail stores. To do that, they’d have to do some serious shifts in their marketing and how they sell products. They’d have to create more competitive pricing and make sure their product is consistently good enough for the price. White Dwarf would have to change, prices modified across much of the line, they’d have to make sure there’s no dud models being released that might be substituted by someone else’s products, they might have to diversify their product range… That’s all a lot of work. It’d almost certainly be better for long-term sales and growth, but short-term profit of any kind is “good enough,” so why put in all that effort?

    It has been amazing, though, to see them double down on some bad ideas, like turning their website into just an online store devoid of the handy articles they used to run. Those articles add extra value to the website, which attracts more visitors, which is more potential customers, especially if you work the content right. And then use social media to pass the links to said articles around. Gets more and more people coming to the webstore, because the webstore is providing more value than just being a place to pay full retail price for the models (and download AoS rules). Wouldn’t cost them that much to do something like that, and it’d bring them (back) into the 21st century of online marketing, but they seem to pride themselves on a Dark Ages method of marketing and sales.

  • Ben Raffe

    I doubt GW would suffer too many stores that weren’t proving to be cost-effective, to be honest. If the stores weren’t making money, the current UK property market is such that they could no doubt get out of a number of leases with relative ease if such was their wont.

    They have had something of a cull of stores around the UK and world, however, and they have attempted to make stores more profitable. If the stores DO make money – ANY money – then it would be foolish to cut those profits out of the company. Particularly when the presence on a High Street can offer them valuable exposure.

    As other users have commented, GW do very little in the way of advertising, so these stores are effectively billboards that can sell their products.

    The use of other games companies such as Privateer Press and FFG is also misleading, as they are a long LONG way away from reaching a similar level of turnover to GW. Somebody high up at GW (Tom Kirby? Alan Merrett? I forget…) was once asked about GW’s competitors in the marketplace, and they said that GW didn’t HAVE any competitors. It may sound arrogant, but it is probably quite accurate.

    • Yea it’s pretty clear whoever wrote the article has no clue how business works – you don’t close down profitable avenues *ever*. Even the smaller stores that don’t do amazing are still generating $300,000+ in annual sales – which might not sound like a lot vs. say an Apple Store but GW as a company only has about One Hundred Million Pounds in sales annually, so hundreds of thousands go a long way. It would be suicide to close those revenue centers.

      Now back in the old days when they had a staff of five and it cost $60,000 in rent annually for a busy mall store just to have the space? Those were probably losing money, but these new smaller shops are making money – so why close down what is working?

      • An_Enemy

        They’re not working. Otherwise, GW wouldn’t close them.

        • They’re not working? Is that why they’re about to open their 100th store in North America for the first time?

          • An_Enemy

            Who cares? It’ll have one employee and they close more stores than they open.

            A company doesn’t fire most of its employees, wage freeze the rest and constantly shift its retail locations to cheaper rent spots because things are working out great for them. Logic. It’s great when you’re not purposely trying to avoid it.

          • The logic is fairly simple – if they were suffering why is their stock price not dropping? Why are they opening new stores?

            You don’t like GW – that’s fine – but their business model works and they’re making something like $150 Million in revenue annually – they’re fine.

            You not liking them doesn’t make their business practices unsound. They pay dividends to their shareholders every year.

          • An_Enemy

            Of course they pay dividends. Their major shareholders are the board themselves and a handful of hedge funds. That’s not passed on to the other employees and their wage freezes.

            You keep asking the same dumb question. “Why do they keep opening stores?” Why do they keep closing stores?!

            Look up some facts yourself because you are sorely in need of actual info. Their stock prices have dropped. In the last three years they’ve gone from a low of 400 in 2012, to a high of 800 around 2014, and they’re at 522 today.

            Your opinion is colored by what you like and what you don’t like. Mine isn’t. This is not subjective. Quit trying to inject your fanboyism into rational discussions.

          • Three years huh? Go back to 2009 and their stock was down to 248GBp and it has more than doubled since then. You cherry pick the details that fit your deeply negative narrative but all the wishing on your part won’t make it true – they have been around for over 40 years now – as all companies do they’ve had their ups and downs – but under Kevin Rountree’s leadership things are going quite well.

            I congratulate Games Workshop on opening their 100th store in North America. Here’s to many more milestones and another forty years of success in the Warhammer worlds!

            Whine all you want doomsayer – there are your like every year going back as far as I can remember, always with the same sad spiel – but the truth is in the money, and from all business indicators GW is doing quite well.

            #GW100

          • Neal Laxman

            Just re the store amounts in various years, I would suspect the high point was a known transition period where they opened new stores in what they hope we’re better / more profitable locations, but kept the old ones during the period to allow a more smooth transition for existing customers.

  • Carl

    I think a lot of it is rooted in that in their main sales location, the UK, very few local stockists have space for gaming (I have a half dozen GW shops within 30 miles, in that same distance many, many local stockists but only three have space to play, to my knowledge – and one of those is mostly a gaming centre that will order in products specifically for customers). In providing locations that serve as both a retail point AND a place to play, GW is fueling the hobby and that’s why they’re so enamoured of them, it creates a circle that keeps them going.

    • Neal Laxman

      The only big place to game in the uk hat I know of, aside from warhammer world, is dark sphere in London. A few other places around have maybe an attic or basement but you know every GW will have a table.

  • Simon Chatterley

    I visit Warhammer world every 6 months or so for an event and that place makes total sense. It works and having the 3 stores right next to the gaming area means you will spend some money there. Convenience wins and you buy because it’s just so hard not to.

    However there I think it should end. Most retail stores are one person operations and I don’t see the point. They are trying to squeeze every pound from them but they bleed money.

    I’ve visited a fair few in the UK and often when I go I’m the only one in there with said person.

    It’s tough because if you have no gaming club near they are often the only place to play but again, I’ve rarely seen it.

    I think every major country having a “Warhammer world” would work but retail shops…not so much in today’s online world

    • MPSwift

      My experience of the GW stores in the UK is that it is very dependent on who runs them. 3 great examples would be Exeter, Bournemouth and Cambridge all of which are run by really enthusiastic managers who manage to sell without being pushy. They organise campaigns and hobby events regularly and at least the first 2 have close ties with a local gaming club, can’t speak for Cambridge as I wasn’t in the area for very long. All 3 stores frequently have at least 5 people in them, often considerably more.
      I’d say it is very area dependent though, perhaps in GWs boom period of the early-mid 00s they opened too many stores and are now stuck in the mindset of trying to maintain them rather than trimming the fat a bit and focusing on the more successful stores, letting FLGS take up the slack in those more minor locations but making it easy for them to sell GW stock.

      • Mr.Gold

        Another one that is busy is Gloucester, there are often 15+ people in for most of the day saturday and sunday (not counting those who just stay for 5 mins.). and often similar amounts from about 3pm onwards in the week. this is again due to a great manager who is adept at the hobby side of things as well as the retail.

    • Muninwing

      that was what the old Battle Bunkers were… there were significant presences in major cities, and a place to go if this was something you were interested in.

      then many got shut down. high rent, low return.

      still… they are advertising, presence, community — all the things that GW isn’t doing much to promote that have nonetheless reinforced their brand. it’s no surprise that they wouldn’t understand that it’s a powerful resource in the right hands.

  • denzark

    I think this article misses the fact that GW must see the bottom line and be happy with what they get from the stores. It does not ask the qestio ‘why is GW happy?’
    The answer I think, is that new entrants are more important than veterans – and if parents are brining little timmy into the game, their internet research is likely to be cursory – so no discount, and go to the bricks and mortar store.

    • Simon Chatterley

      But it naive to think that mum/dad won’t see said prices and at some realise the Internet is cheaper.

      Basing a business plan on ignorance in today’s digital age is a nonsense. So as they aren’t as daft as that they must think that having the brand in the retail centres (albeit in the far corner hidden behind a pound shop…) is worth more than can be quantified on the balance sheet.

      • The parents that I see bring their 15ish year old kids into our local GW store bring them in because they want the atmosphere of the store, they want their child to be taught how to play and paint and prime and all that by the staff. Thus they buy from the store – sure maybe when they’ve learned all they can they will try to find stuff cheaper, but I watch it happen every day where parents spend big bucks to start the hobby.

        Keep in mind also – whether you buy from your FLGS or online GW made the same $$. They all pay the same 55% wholesale before they can sell it online – the product still comes from GW.

        ie GW still wins.

      • denzark

        True at some point they will realise – but after the entry level stuff – glue, paint, few minis – have been bought. By that time the parents think they have done their job in getting timmy a hobby away from PS4 and butt out.

  • Fungrim

    I love going into a GW shop, nostalgic, chat to the staff, buy a few paints, maybe a can of spray.

    But if I want plastic, I go online to an indie seller – the % discount you get online is fantastic, and like most people, I don’t have a huge monthly budget to throw at hobby. But GW clearly know this, and (I’d imagine) have good deals in place with the indie sellers to ensure that the discount doesn’t destroy their wider profits.

    They’re still trying to find the balance of where/how their sales really happen. Think this was a big driver in the AoS switch – it’s now possible to walk in off the street and have a game. Which is no bad thing!

    • Fungrim

      Also, the rebrand of most stores to ‘Warhammer’ is also pretty telling

    • All the retailers online pay 55% of MSRP, so if they turn around and sell it for a 30% discount, they are making a 15% profit off the sale. Granted that 15% often gets eaten up by shipping costs and whatnot, but that’s the general math.

      GW makes the same from those online sales as they do from you buying at an independent store. Obviously they get 100% if you buy from a GW store, but that is only a percentage of their sales – they’re a wholesaler.

  • X078

    The GW stores in Sweden do a great job of teaching newcomers, arranging gaming events and doing painting sessions etc. So no i cannot see why they should close.

  • Tim

    My local GW always has people in it. I see tons of people buying things. It’s easy to find people to play etc. as for fantasy flight they do have a single store in Roseville Minnesota. The fantasy flight event center. Which is also packed all the time

  • Jason Gross

    Dan Bearss – I agree with your logic to a point. I too live in Milwaukee, and Heath our resident GW store manager is a great guy! It feels like his hands are tied by corporate GW policy. It’s unfortunate that the chain stores can’t sell at a discount without alienating FLGS and online stores. I don’t know if they could start a loyality program or something. I buy as much from the GW store I can to support Heath and because it is a “cool” place to hang out and talk 30k / 40k.

    We had a few great FLGS in the past here. D&D has strong ties locally with Gygax and Gen Con originating here. Most gamers I know play with friends in basements than at a store. I want GW to thrive and if it means closing the retail chains, so be it. A retail presence may be seen as marketing for GW. So maybe they accept the losses as part of their overall strategy. You would think if they viewed as strictly marketing, they would do more free events to allow teens to experience the hobby.

    I know GW is apposed to allowing a film company make a decent blockbuster 40K movie. But, maybe if they did more multimedia events at the retail stores, then people could find out how great the IP / fluff really is.

  • standardleft

    I really like my local GW store, The one in Eastbourne (UK). The manager is lovely and the shop has such a busy, happy vibe to it.

  • vash113

    Stores in the US are quite different from the UK, that said I don’t think GW should close all of it’s US stores. Some maybe, but certainly not all. I also don’t think the retail stores are nearly the anchor that some believe them to be. For many they are the primary entry into the hobby, they were for me.

    Honestly most LGS I’ve been too lack any permanent gaming space or tables, instead space is cleared or assigned for fold-out tables when needed. Terrain varies vastly and regulars are often unreliable. I can only speak from my own experience and that hardly covers the entirety of the US but I personally have not had the best experience with LGS and if the local GW store wasn’t around I probably wouldn’t still be playing the game at all. In the local LGS GW products compete for space with dozens of other games and hobbies, most of which I could not care less about, the staff often doesn’t know anything about 40k and what time is dedicated to 40k is only on certain days of the week, hardly convenient for many work schedules.

    What takes priority at the LGS’ I’ve been too is usually faster paced, easier to get into and cheaper games like Magic, X-Wing, Attack Wing, some Warma/hordes and so forth. Games that require less space, less terrain, and often less introduction. X-Wing is a heck of a lot cheaper for a newbie to get into, requires no real assembly or paint and has much better brand recognition than GW. The only thing that really stands out against that is the hobbit and even that is going to fade as the rush from the movies dies down.

    Really the local GW is the only place where I can stop in any afternoon of the week to chat about 40k, discuss painting tips, check the new products and books and maybe get a game in. At the LGS I rarely have a place to sit, there are rarely people around to chat with about 40k or fantasy and the staff are more interested in getting me to buy something and leave than making the place welcoming in any respect.

    Now just to be clear I’ve not always had the best experience at GW stores either, for a while the local one was in a bit of a mire and even when I got into the hobby years ago I had some trouble as a noob at the local store. However each store has a different community of regulars and currently my local store has a great community that I’m always happy to drop by and participate in while I just haven’t had that experience at any of the dozen or more LGS I’ve spent time at. To be perfectly fair I’m sure there are welcoming, popular LGS where there are people hanging around doing hobby work and being social but I haven’t found one like that yet.

    In short the retail stores are GW’s life-line to new players, a way to get new players into the hobby and offer an environment focused on all aspects of the hobby without being diluted by other product and game lines. Unless GW does a lot more to expand awareness say with more video games or something or push lower priced starter boxes I don’t see the retail stores becoming replaceable anytime soon.

    EDIT: Yes the GW stores tend to be moving towards cheaper rent locations but in my experience LGS do the same thing, most I know of are located in similarly out of the way spots. While this can be irksome my local GW is now next door to a great Chinese restaurant and I don’t have trouble getting parking anymore.

  • Malisteen

    After everything GW has done to alienate and lean on FLGS stores that try to sell their products, I kind of doubt relying entirely on them to bring in new customers would work in their favor. I know my local store remains bitter at them over getting stuck with a large pile of fantasy product that’s dead as a doornail after AoS.

  • Andrew Galea

    Sorry I’m not buying it. GW struggling for 1 reason and 1 reason only: Their games are not good.

    • GW is struggling? That’s funny.

      • Andrew Galea

        you’re having a laugh.

      • davepak

        Yes, yes they are.

        Their revenues and profits are poor when they increased sales units and raised prices – in business speak this is “BAD”.
        (read their financial reports the last few years).

        As it basically means their customer base is getting smaller and smaller – which is bad, as each lost customer is a big deal.

        They are also struggling to the point their fired their CEO. Companies that are happy with how they are doing dont do that.

  • Richard Peachey

    What if the GW store is the only FLGS? The only place to play? Nice sentiment, but with GW’s restrictions on independent stickists and product availability, if they want a retial presence, they need their own stores.

    Also, its believed that one of the main reasons they havent been bought out yet is because of all the leases they currently hold for their stores.

    In short, their stores drive growth (al-beit ever diminishing), promote the brand and enables them to be independent.

  • I love my local GW store I paint there all the time. I get a lot more done in an hour when I’m around people who are also painting. None of the many FLGS in San Antonio have a good social painting area like the GW stores have.

    • amaximus167

      The one is South Austin always has people in it. Despite having a far superior FLGS (Dragon’s Lair) just a short drive north. Whether those people are buying anything is up for discussion, but it’s never empty.

      • Yea we used to have painting nights at Dragon’s Lair here in San Antonio, great chain of stores. It was just one night a week only – where I can go down to GW just about any time and someone will be there painting, easily the most productive painting sessions I ever have are at those stores, plus they seem to keep the temperature just right so your paints don’t dry up right away.

  • shauni55

    So I work for a retail logistics company, and I’ve often thought of what sorts of things GW can do to “fix itself”. As with any problem, the immediate response is to “cut the anchor”, but modern retail strategy and technology (or the omnichannel as many call it) presents us with third option and that’s to utilize those store locations in another fashion. I’m talking about things like ship from store using them as sort of Mini DCs (distribution centers).

    At first glance this may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Shipping stock via freight (like they normally) costs a hell of a lot less than shipping via FedEx normally (I believe that’s who their US contract is with). So, basically you strategize where and when to ship: Oh, you live in California and ordered offline? Well it’s cheaper for us to ship from the closest CA store than the DC in TN (correct me if that’s not the right state). Oh, that CA store doesn’t have that item? Well that’s ok the next closest store does so we’ll ship from there. Guess what? We’re also drastically reducing shipping times and cost for customers.

    The general process for GW stores in the US is that each one has one associate, and I doubt anyone is going to argue that those associates spend a lot of time sitting around. It’s inevitable. Hardly anyone is going to a GW shops at 11am on a Wednesday. So we utilize the resources we have, instead of them sitting around or painting their own models all day, we have them pack and ship items for orders that are routed to that store. It’s as simple as packing a box and slapping a premade label on it.

    • davepak

      Correct.

      The problem is not having a store (as you mention, being integrated can be a HUGE deal) its that they don’t know how to do it.

      • shauni55

        Well no Enterprise can do it on their own. It’s takes someone (or multiple people) like my company coming in to, configure solutions, integrate applications, set up routing maps etc. And don’t think we havn’t tried to talk to GW, we had their CIO at out booth at NRF (One of the biggest retail shows in the world). They just are set in their ways and think they can fix their problems on their own.

        • davepak

          You are correct.
          The first problem is them realizing their real problem – they think their problem is declining sales.
          That is the symptom.
          The real problem is they have no clue as to what their customers actually want, or even who they are today.

  • Thatroubleshootah

    I a perfect world gw would stop trying to sell their own products and let others do that for them. If they relaxed a lot of the restrictions on independent retailers and relied more heavily on flgs they would create an army of evangelists instead of salesmen which is what they have now.

    As things stand now gw stores compete with flgs which is counterproductive. Gw could eleminate a lot of wasted effort by closing a lot of gw stores and letting independent retailers sell their products the way they see fit.

  • JonnyRocket

    The GW store in Montreal is located in a big shopping mall, but it’s on the third floor and in a lost corner. so unless you know where to search for it, you will miss it.
    The dudes manning the store are always nice and ready to help and answer questions unlike certain gaming stores where the employees are just hanging around and often too busy playing a game themselves to help you.

  • blackbloodshaman

    The only hope GW has of getting customers to choose their games over the better cheaper games that their competitors make, is to get them young, and that is the sole reason for their stores- recruit new hobbyists.

  • Damistar

    As a customer in the Chicago USA market I can say this is on right the money for us. We used to have a Battle Bunker with a full selection and even some Forgeworld stuff. There were over a dozen tables, organized events every month, display cases for customers to show off their handiwork and enough staff to run it all. There was a real 40K community going. Then they shut it down and went to 2 one man stores with nowhere to play and limited hours and everything pretty much died. In the USA, their reorg looked like downsizing which to us means the company is failing. Americans like things big and shiny.

    • Axis Mundi

      Maybe this is why they announced the hire of someone to focus on their US retail “strategy” in their last financial report? Sounds like they need a proper reboot!

    • davepak

      The problem is not having a retail store, the problem is GW does not know what kind of store to have, who they are selling to, what they are selling and how to sell it.

      You point out that having the right store (your bunker) was a good idea.

      Having stores is not the problem,the problem is GW currently does not know how to do it.

  • WHAT THE HELLS GOING ON?!

    my local gw, boston (the original boston in the uk ) is always busy and a hub for local gamers and painters, sometimes on saturdays its so full that there’s no room to get around the tables. down to the store manager running events and engaging and being part of the local gaming community where possible.we are lucky to have a gw in this small town (even though it does have a large gaming and hobbyist community), and if it was to go, would mean gw lost drop in customers, impulse buyers, and the general momentum of local hobby activity(and thus purchases- from gw directly or elsewhere) would likely decline back to how it was 8 years ago when we didnt have a gw.

    • Walter Bravenboer

      In Rotterdam, not long ago, we had a big tournament (AoS), that was so busy, they set up tables outside! Those shoppers got their first taste! 😉

  • Countdiscount

    I love my local GW store. You only see these rants about shutting down all GW stores from people that don’t actually regularly frequent them. But for the people that have a GW store nearby, with a good manager, we are very glad they exist.

  • Paul Sinanan

    The stores are what got GW where it is IMO.

    Toronto stores have moved around a lot over time. But today the main store is located perfectly. In the upper middle class area of the city which generates the most private school children in town.

  • Sebastien Bazinet

    Really wish I had a FLGS near me that allowed/sold booze. It’s just not the same without a pint

    • euansmith

      Just tell them that “Tennent’s Super Export” is a sports drink.

  • Svenone

    GW used to have 3 stores in NYC and has gone down to a single, 1-man store that moved from its original location to a smaller space (across the street) because the rent was too high. This has happened over the last 8 years or so I would say.

    If it can’t survive in a high population dense region where people earn a statistically higher income nationally I don’t know how a GW can survive anywhere.

    I would not blame those closures on web-sales (other than the self-inflicted move by GW to push push push their webstore).

  • George Lanning

    Loyal GW customers such as myself spend thousands of dollars per year in their stores and rely on them to always get in the entire product line, local game stores usually only have a small selection of the vast range of models and cannot be counted on to get all new releases in sufficient quantity. Another advantage is that a GW store will make good on a defective model or missing part. If price is your only consideration when shopping then I can understand how you don’t see the value of the stores as a marketing vehicle for the brand.

    • Captain Raptor

      That’s an interesting viewpoint. It helps me understand those who still enjoy the physical stores. I’m one of those folks who is only concerned about price. My town has a GW but I haven’t been there in 5+ years. For me the prices are better online (especially since I buy a lot used), I would rather build and paint at home (while in my underwear), and my friends and I have space in our homes to play. A GW store has nothing to offer someone like me unfortunately.

  • Bronne Bruzgo

    I disagree. I would have NEVER discovered Warhammer if I hadn’t walked into that Games-Workshop storefront at 13 years old, thinking it was a video game store.

    I had an awesome, enthusiastic sales rep let me and my friends play a sample game of Warhammer Fantasy. Seeing all those well painted models arrayed against each other for the first time had me HOOKED.

    Online word-of-mouth just isn’t the same, not even close.

    • Captain Raptor

      How long ago was it that you discovered Warhammer? I discovered it when I was 9 back in 1996. Back then the stores were vital and they played a huge part in getting me hooked, but nowadays kids are awfully web savvy. I’m not sure that the store-front is still as necessary as it was back in the good old days.

      • Bronne Bruzgo

        It would have been 98/99. I just can’t imagine it being appealing to the youth unless they get to experience it in person. There’s nothing like seeing two well-painted forces sparring off each other.

  • euansmith

    That’s a great picture of a dinosaur attacking a canoe.

  • Vladamyr

    So, I agree and disagree with your arguments.

    1st off I live in SoCal, and every FLGS is dominated by MotG, i have even been kicked off tables at many FLGS’s in order to make room for Magic Night, Magic Tournaments. I played Warhammer with a few friends who ended up moving out of state. While these FLGS had warhammer night, it was always on monday or tuesday night, and the store would close at 8 so yey, i can get 1 game if anyone else is there and not already playing a game. So I had a very hard time finding new people to play with. A GW store opened in my area, and suddenly not only did I have a a whole new group to play with, but also made a lot of new friends. The community is tight knit, and we do play our some of our games at FLGS and some at the GW store, and some at our houses.

    Our GW store runs fun events to keep the community active and draw new members into the community while other FLGS in the area, especially since the death of Fantasy, have spurned warhammer events.

    I don’t think you can compare Warhammer products to Fantasy Flight games, games like X-wing, have very short set up and play time in comparison to warhammer, the rules are astronomically smaller. It is easier to for FLGS to run these events as they run magic events. Warhammer events not only are more complicated but because of the complexity of the rules the community generally gets whiney at what events/tournaments allow and disallow when they are hosted locally.

    I however do agree with you about prices and discount. The Markup on their product is ridiculous and I always attempt to find a cheaper way to buy large products while I will just buy paints, brushes, and clampack character models from the GW store. The GW stores in the US would be much more popular if you presented a way for FW to be bought in store, or at least ordered with free shipping.

  • Severius_Tolluck

    I have a couple points with your argument I find I do not agree with. The first is you claim to want to have all stores close, and then still want a warhammer world? All or nothing.

    Mainly GW uses the stores more for recruiting, not for your personal whims. Having stores shows they have the meanss to support their communities.

    FFG does have gaming stores, mainly in their home state of MN. Most other companies are following gW’s prcinging and marketing strategies. This is nothing new. At the end they are publicly traded companies and want to impress their share holders.

    GW stores run GW games, my local FLGS hardly does GW as it focuses more on MTG or Warmachine and Bolt Action.

    That being said, they do need to improve how they handle their stores.

    The first is to close some stores. Mainly so they can build only battle bunkers that support all their products as they once did and provide gaming space that is adequate.

    Second is to place those stores in much better locations that will actually gain the foot traffic.

    Third point is as they consolidate their stores to maybe only one per major metro, and a warhammer world per region, they can also consolidate their staff to man those stores.

    The forth point you did cover, and that is they do need to have intro kits at other chains.

    They also need to actually invest in marketing beyond their in hose publication. Why they still try to be word of mouth only is a mystery to me. Even if they only want to be in magazines, at least be in other peoples magazines for pete’s sake. Get an insert in comic books!

  • Mud_Duck

    FYI Fantasy Flight does have it’s own store.

    • JJ

      1 store.. they have one store and it’s more of a “heres our headquarters” thing. Kinda how The Guinness Brewery has a bar in the lobby. Not the 94 one man shops or whatever GW is trying to run here in the US.

  • Trick

    If the independent stockists and webstores are the arteries, as you say, then the GW branches are the heart. The company won’t survive by only catering to veterans of the hobby. It survives by continuously recruiting new hobbyists through its stores, without which people would have no exposure besides word of mouth and opinion, not something which our stigma-heavy hobby lends itself well to. Being able to run introductory and demonstrative games and activities allows Joe Public to find out exactly what the hobby is for themselves and get themselves started up. If they then continue to support that store or move on to discount retailers, that’s up to them, GW is happy with either. But independent stockists and Web stores do almost 0% recruitment for the company.

    And why do other companies not have retail outlets, my humble guess would be that that’s because GW has already done most of the hard work for them. I’d hazard a guess that most people playing Dystopian Wars or Flames of War etc started out with a GW game system. Similarly, GW licensed products make money as peripheral products to Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. They have no relation to the topic at hand, because the people who put money into them are already hobbyists, by and large.

    GW stores are integral to the business and the hobby and without them, gaming and collecting hobbies as a whole would feel the hit, I guarantee it.

  • Captain Raptor

    GW should learn how to advertise. Maybe then they wouldn’t need to lean so heavily on the physical stores. Seriously what kind of company doesn’t advertise? Sites like this one should be plastered in banner ads for GW games. I should see big cardboard cut out Space Marines in ever FLGS I go to. It amazes me that such a large company is happy with such little attention.

  • Commissar Molotov

    Distances sure seem bigger in North America. We don’t think anything of driving 45 minutes to go shopping 30+ miles away. Hard to cover every market with distances like that.

    • benn grimm

      Well tbf, Americans(of the northern variety) are a lot bigger than most Europeans (something to do with the water), so they do need more space…;)

    • Deathwing

      the closest store in Houston to me is 17 miles. However in Houston those 17 miles could take TWO HOURS to drive. So i go about twice a year. There are no independent game stores that were willing to put up with the current GW treatment. I read the books. nowhere to play, nowhere to hobby, nowhere to buy the models, nowhere to see fellow hobbyists. I did not abandon my plasticrack addiction. My plasticrack dealer abandoned me.

  • benn grimm

    Games workshop stores (or Warhammer stores depending on where you live), are, for many the local FLGS and they are much stronger and more likely to survive than indie stores. Round our way i have seen multiple indie FLGS’s set up shop and then go bust over the last few years, whereas the Warhammer shop just keeps chugging along, despite the incompetence of the eejits in Nottingham. It offers a lot that the other pretenders don’t and while I don’t visit as much as I used to, its clearly still a community hub and the manager has always been supportive of the local club, providing terrain etc.

    Bricks n mortar stores have been under siege the last few years, but high street presence is still incredibly important. A big problem a lot of shops have is people going in, choosing what they’d like then buying it on amazon. Gw doesn’t have this problem; if you buy it from the discount online retailer, they don’t care, it’s that retailer who takes the hit. This destroys indie stores as they feel they have to try and compete with these ludicrous discounts, when they really can’t afford it. And when the dream comes crashing down and they have to do business from their basement, they’re still on tiny margins; while gw just sits back, grins and creams off the cash.

  • Loggbert

    I live within 25 minutes of a store (South West England) and it is located near a massive car park. Every time I walk past it, whether that being in Summer, winter, rain or sun, there are always people in it. When I go in , everyone is friendly. I like the stores. I also go to one in Augsburg Germany when I am on holiday (a lot) and it has the same atmosphere.

  • Deathwing

    The current 1 man store idea in the US does not work.
    Really what they need are about 20 small 1-2 table MALL/major Grocery store location type stores with TWO man operations pushing starter boxes as hard as they can, with a 4×8 hobby table for people to learn the hobby. Get them addicted to plasti-crack and then push them to the area independent hobby stores.
    It worked great years ago when GW was growing like crazy. Go back to what works.
    Great example of what they need – The GW store in Grapevine Mills in Texas. Was a little big (had 3 gaming tables, had entire range) for what it needed to be, but had people that could take the time to teach new hobbyists and players, pushed starter boxes, ran demos outside the store in the mall walkway. run this recruiter store strategy and reopen support for the local indy stores and they will have their lower cost brick and mortar success.

    • Deathwing

      Example Houston. 1 mall store in katy mills, 1 mall store deerbrooke mall, 1 HEB grocery store front store in the galleria area. 3-5 total gaming tables 3 demo tables, 3 hobby tables (about 64-88 total sq ft of table space per store), 5-6 red shirts, 1 black shirt for the area.
      The goal is to push starter boxes, teach the hobby, then get people out to the independent retailers to game.
      4-6 independent retail stores ready to go in the surrounding areas if they could get support like back in the day.

  • Defenestratus

    Fantasy Flight does indeed have at least one store in Minneapolis.

  • Jeff Isacson

    Read first paragraph, knows that writer hasn’t done their homework before writing. Go to Google and type in Fantasy Flight Games. Low and behold there is a company on the list that has a store and it is huge. https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/more/fantasy-flight-games-center/%5D
    Here check it out.

    As for the article, here is Minneapolis/St. Paul we have about 20 FLGS that cater to 40K so I wouldn’t shed a tear if the GW closed. However, for those people who have to drive hours to the nearest store which is a GW, that would be unfortunate.

  • kaptinscuzgob

    are you insane. the stores are the only reason i and many of my friends even play wargames. it indirectly lead us to malifaux and other games, even if GW is going down the pan in recent years. who knows how many players were introduced to the hobby in a GW store

  • Joshua Boyle

    I’ve been into 40k since ’89 and finally made it to my first GW store last year, in Scottsdale, AZ. I love it. The manager, Luke, is one of the raddest, nicest people I know and there is never any pressure. I can browse if I want. I can talk background, hobbying, gaming. The other customers have all been awesome and there really is something special there that does not exist at other FLGS in the area. I’ll gladly pay more money at the store then get something cheaper online because I value the experience.

  • Thor OdinSon

    I shop and play exclusively at GW stores, I just find it vastly more pleasant than an FLGS.

  • LordCastellan Vas

    This is ridiculous line of argumentation. This hobby very literally only exists in it’s current form because of games workshop hobby centers. Without the recruitment provided by the GW retail outlets, this hobby would be dead in a decade as the current gamers grow out of it or move on to other game systems and hobbies. It is easy for those of us who have been in the hobby for a long time to forget just how arcane and niche this hobby is. Without seeing the hobby well presented in person -without having to wade through the stench and strangeness of your average FLGS, to say nothing of the poor terrain and often unpainted armies on display- there is very little chance of a new generation of young people discovering the miniatures wargaming, particularly in an age when a thousand different hobbies compete for a child’s attention. Comparing what GW does to a board games company rather misses the point. table top wargames are NOT board games. It is, in fact, very hard to even explain what a table top wargame is without showing it off in person. And as far as those other miniwargaming companies go, pretty much their entire customer base started with playing and painting warhammer in one form or another. In that sense, their growth is directly tied to the recruitment rate of GW, which has everything to do with the success of the hobby centers. GW knows that the hobby centers are not extremely profitable, but also understand the role of the hobby centers in their business model.

  • I live in Houston, metro population about 5 million. This time last year we had 4 GW stores, and about 5 solid FLGS. Now there are 2 GW, same number FLGS.

    Houston is a unique city, in that there is no mass transit. Residents are fine driving over an hour to get places.

    At least here, consolidate to one larger battle bunker type store with at least 2 guys. No increase in overhead compared to the two one mans they have bow, but better for this particular market in Houston as we’ll drive from all over to get to “that one cool bunker” that’s always open as opposed to 4-5 small GW shops with limited hours.

    Point being, each market should be addressed individually – applying what works in the UK to the US doesn’t work. You shouldn’t even do it from city to city.

  • Boondox

    I live on the East Coast of the US and the only GW store in my area is the size of a closet and has 2 tables. And that’s pretty much the standard from what I’ve seen. By comparison, there are 3 FLGS much closer than GW and the smallest has at least 6 tables. Did I mention they have better hours? And they give me 15% in credit from everything I purchase including GW products? They also set up tournaments, leagues, painting competitions, training and sell sodas and snacks. So by and large FLGS offer more incentive for people to shop/play at their stores than GW does. That’s a simple fact. I sincerely doubt that the income and marketing exposure GW gains from one store justifies it’s total cost. GW could save a lot of money by closing down their stores and encouraging a better relation with FLGS. FLGS are more common and draw in more potential customers than a GW store ever will.
    Case in point. I started out as a teenager building model airplanes. I purchased them from a Hobby Store that also carried GW products. IMO Space Marines are much cooler than WW2 planes which is why I’ve been playing 40K for 25+ years and haven’t touched a single WW2 plane in that time. FLGS are automatic marketing at a fraction of the price of a GW store.
    Having a US version of Warhammer World seems like common sense to me. It’s a bigger market than the UK so why not take advantage of it? I live on the East Coast and I would gladly make the trip to Memphis if it was the equivalent of Warhammer World including all the products (t-shirts, mugs, seminars, demonstrations, Bugman’s Bar, ForgeWorld, guest speakers, etc). I know it would significantly boost revenue for the store. Most folks in my gaming group can’t afford to go to Nottingham but we’d all band together for a road trip if GW HQ was within driving distance.
    All of this makes me wonder if GW really has a strategy for the US market or they’re just cut and pasting their business plan for the UK?

    • davepak

      Excellent points – but all of this is about HOW to run a store, not if they should have one.

      Having stores is a very powerful business advantage – gw just sucks at it.

  • Mr.Fister

    Oh the bigotry….when s.b. says the price of the models is too high then every body says it is the market that rules over the price…now there is s.b. who offers the same product for a lower price…f… the market he has to get the f…. out of here….and yes it is a luxury product I do not need it…its not a rant about the price it is a rant about the bigotry

  • Adam

    I don’t think the writer knows what Dearth means.

    Are you meaning Glut? Dearth means very few yet it seems you are saying there are heaps of FLGS…

    Anyways I agree with the sentiment that GW retail stores are not a long term viable concept. Perhaps not even medium. I understand there purpose is not to make money but rather being in new hobbyists and promote the brand but I’m my sure that outweighs the negatives.

    A detailed CBA would be interesting.

  • Grumpy Scot

    I’ve long made this point. GW had to nuke Fantasy because Fantasy couldn’t support retail stores. Only 40k justifies stores. Age of Sigmar has the exact same problem. It’s why they struggle to justify slowing down 40k releases in favour of other games. They probably still need stores, to recruit properly, but better FLGS would be the best result for all.

  • Camoron

    Yea, completely disagree. They are the keystone to Games Workshops success and offer a place for people who are curious about the games to see them, play them and be inspired by them with little to no monetary investment.

    This article is filled with why you don’t go to Games Workshop, not reasons they shouldnt be closed. Where I live (outside the UK) there are no FLGS that have any interest in growing the game or community, nor are there any in the city I lived before this (population 1.5 million). Much I my gaming is done in GW stores.

    A key point is there are many people who travel where a GW store is the perfect place to call in to when they don’t know the local area (army, navy, airforce in particular and my local GW is probably almost 50% of these guys who rotate through, always new faces).

    • davepak

      Correct.

      Having stores is an amazing advantage – they just suck at it.

      Your quote here is gold:
      “This article is filled with why you don’t go to GamesWorkshop, not reasons they shouldnt be closed. “

  • Lufgt Huron

    You may be a fancy BoLS blogger, but I think Games Workshop knows more about their business, and what’s best for them, than you do.

    I don’t know if I would have ever made that statement before 2015… but ever since the new CEO took over, there has been some radical decisions in the right directions.

    1. Bringing Specialist games back and putting Forgeworld in charge of it!

    2. Creating affordable “Getting Started” boxes, $85.00 is fantastic, they are going to make more of them, and they are cheaper than the $99.00 Battleforces / Battalion boxes back in 2012!

    3. Starting to use it’s intellectual property to become more main stream via phone apps for iOS & Android, mobile games, PC Games, Console Games, Hats, Shirts and other misc merchandise.

    4. The Battle Brothers Program, great for well… anyone who wants a starter set, does not matter if you are new or old, you buy a Dark Vengeance or Age of Sigmar box and their store will give you two $15.00 gift vouchers to use… 30 bucks back for buying a starter set… why the hell not!

    5. Betrayal of Calth, FW has always considered it’s self to be a boutique item in a niche business, the upper crust of hobby if you will… well the new CEO didn’t like that, took hold of FW away from the guy running it, and decided to do things his way and launch a product that can be made with the quality of FW designs, at GW speed with a great price point and value…

    6. Lowering prices *Insert record screech sound*

    Yep… you heard me right… lowering prices, you may not have noticed, but things have started to get… well… a little cheaper…

    The reboxed space wolf models coming back this weekend, (Long Fangs and Space Wolves Pack) are $ 0.25 cheaper.

    ooOOooh a whole twenty five cents cheaper (Golf Clap) well, actually that is a good thing, they can’t lower their prices by a lot, because they sell thousands and thousands of dollars of product a day to customers, but more importantly to their trade accounts, if $11,000.00 of product one day, is only worth $ 8,000.00 the next day, trade accounts would throw a fit… but a few cents here and there, each month, slowly… wouldn’t make them too angry…

    Okay I’m all done.

  • Lufgt Huron

    You may be a fancy BoLS blogger, but I think Games Workshop knows more about their business, and what’s best for them, than you do.

    I don’t know if I would have ever made that statement before 2015… but ever since the new CEO took over, there has been some radical decisions in the right directions.

    1. Bringing Specialist games back and putting Forgeworld in charge of it!

    2. Creating affordable “Getting Started” boxes, $85.00 is fantastic, they are going to make more of them, and they are cheaper than the $99.00 Battleforces / Battalion boxes back in 2012!

    The thing that makes this really good, is that they are realizing that consistency in price is an issue with Games Workshop, you can walk into a GW store, or a FLGS and you cannot say for sure what the price of a box is just by looking at it (Unless you already know based on experience…)

    But now… you will always know that a Getting Started box (aka battleforce 2.0) will always be $85.00, no matter what.

    I would not be surprised if you start to see things shift like that.

    3. Starting to use it’s intellectual property to become more main stream via phone apps for iOS & Android, mobile games, PC Games, Console Games, Hats, Shirts and other misc merchandise.

    4. The Battle Brothers Program, great for well… anyone who wants a starter set, does not matter if you are new or old, you buy a Dark Vengeance or Age of Sigmar box and their store will give you two $15.00 gift vouchers to use… 30 bucks back for buying a starter set… why the hell not!

    5. Betrayal of Calth, FW has always considered it’s self to be a boutique item in a niche business, the upper crust of hobby if you will… well the new CEO didn’t like that, took hold of FW away from the guy running it, and decided to do things his way and launch a product that can be made with the quality of FW designs, at GW speed with a great price point and value…

    6. Lowering prices *Insert record screech sound*

    Yep… you heard me right… lowering prices, you may not have noticed, but things have started to get… well… a little cheaper…

    The reboxed space wolf models coming back this weekend, (Long Fangs and Space Wolves Pack) are $ 0.25 cheaper.

    ooOOooh a whole twenty five cents cheaper (Golf Clap) well, actually that is a good thing, they can’t lower their prices by a lot, because they sell thousands and thousands of dollars of product a day to customers, but more importantly to their trade accounts, if $11,000.00 of product one day, is only worth $ 8,000.00 the next day, trade accounts would throw a fit… but a few cents here and there, each month, slowly… wouldn’t make them too angry…

  • Sonny Smith

    Without my local GW store there wouldn’t be a place to game. One FLGS rarely does anything concerning GW focusing on historical stuff mostly and the other FLGS is pretty shady.

  • Arthfael

    I think the stores are good in that they generate significant publicity for the hobby. People who have no idea about the hobby know there is this weird store in the city centre around which orbit all these weird nerds and metalheads. Most will never buy a mini, but some will, if not for themselves then maybe for their kids.

  • If you want a much better example of a gaming company that once had retail stores, and shuttered them to the benefit of the company, look at Wizards of the Coast. When Hasbro bought them, one of the first things they did was kill off the retail arm, and it was one of the best things that’s ever happened to the company.

  • JP

    I honestly don’t know what the point of keeping their outlet stores is anymore. They’ve essentially made them useless as a place to go play with friends with all the restrictions and being operated by only one person. At this point, the store’s very existence undermines their entire mission statement of being a hobby they want to grow through personal face to face experience. They should deep six them really.

    • davepak

      You bring up excellent points on how GW is running their stores poorly.

      That is not a reason to get rid of the stores, that is a reason to run them better. Having stores is actually an incredible advantage, it is just, as you point out, they suck at it.

      • JP

        They suck at it because they were trying to cut costs and enforce very strict and unforgiving policies about when and how you could play in their stores. They’ve long since lost touch with how to really connect with their customers and build friendly relationships with them. Honestly, they need someone new who knows how to do that stuff coming up with their store policies.

      • Boondox

        You keep saying that “having a store is an incredible advantage”. I don’t see how that’s an advantage with GW. They produce a high priced niche product that in the US has very little name brand recognition. Their stores are tiny, with only 2 tables (because they’re not a gaming company) and very few people are going to look at “Warhammer” or “Games Workshop” and decide to check it out to find out more. How can you encourage a gaming community when your stores have pathetic hours and are crowded with 10 people in them?
        How can GW honestly expect to compete with any FLGS when GW offer’s ZERO incentive to shop at a GW store?
        I’m tired of hearing “The new CEO is a good guy and might/maybe/eventually/probably/consult the magic eightball and flip a coin to decide if he wants to fix this”.

  • Me

    I have never even bought one single item in a GW store (back when there were several close enough for me to make the trip).

  • Me

    1. An event here in the US would be AWESOME! I would even choose that of CES or E3.

    2. I also think it would be cool if they would sell on Amazon with Prime perks.

    3. Finally, get some kind of local distribution for ForgeWorld (Amazon again :P). That shipping is murder, and is the main reason I don’t have more FW products.

    And no, I do not work for Amazon, but I sure use their service. It beats the snot out the torture sessions otherwise known as “shopping to Walmart”.

  • Richard Mitchell

    The big problem is the reason why Walmart and Target and Harbor Frieght are successful. At an FLGs I can get many games under one roof. GW, Wyrd, PP, CMoN, FFG, and I have the visibility to demo and entice card gamers to play miniatures and card games or play GW and another product. FLGS offer many games under one roof and the potential for moving people across product lines. While GW is the equivalent of a Harbor Freight, the difference is I can go to a Harbor Frieght and get tools at a discount.

    Walking into a dedicated GW store and not getting a discount does not make sense anyone but the most dedicated GW acolytes.

    There is also a cultural difference. While GW can make an amusement park to glorify English people playing miniatures made by an English company, in America we have many great American gaming companies and we focus more upon economics. Many Americans work long hours without the benefit of many government perks outside of public education (which we pay for) and crappy health insurance. So smaller miniature game sizes sell well here. However with stagnant wages in comparison to inflation with less time, many Americans focus on smaller miniatures games to balance out painting time and cost.

  • WH100M

    While I agree that GW’s strategy should be improved with the resellers – because they really have shot themselves in the foot with them a few years back with catastrophic reseller conditions (see very interesting articles from Michael Bartels on now defunct masterminis) – especially, they should improve the resellers channel to better tackle US market, but closing their own brand shops is just nonsense !

    Did you read their reports to just try to back up your thoughts with any real facts rather than use your personal case to make it general ?

    On the latest 6-months 55.3 M£ revenue :
    – 21.5 M£ is from Retail (their shops)
    – 22.4 M£ is from Trade (resellers)
    – 11.4 M£ is from Mail Order (their internet website)
    While their retail channel has passed after the resellers for several reasons (you mention discount, but it’s also bad locations, one-man shops…)… they are working on that from the latest moves they made.

    But here basically what you say here, is “they should close what generates almost 39% of their revenue”…

    While I like bashing GW as much as any other folk, this article is ridiculous.

    • davepak

      The article does do a good job pointing out many things GW has done wrong in the past, and how they have failed to react to changes in the market and competition (or even realizing they have comptition).

      However, that said, you are correct – from a business perspective having your own stores is an incredibly powerful position for a business.

      So, in that regard, you are correct – the perspective to get rid of them is, as you say “ridiculous”.

      GW’s problem is not their retail stores – its their incredible hubris in believing that their product is perpetually self promoting with no competition with completely 100% inelastic demand.

      in plain English – they are in total denial of the wargaming market these days.

      • WH100M

        For sure they have made some really bad decisions, totally ignory the market reality, ignoring their consumers, penalising their resellers in order to protect their shops. Resellers are also good in terms of visibility and availability of the products, and they seem to have realised that, as they will launch a new product format in november to increase visibility.

        And yes, to be fair, the article shows some of the facts they have been ignoring, especially related to the US market, but the solution advised here, and the title of the article itself remove all credibilty to the analysis made. You clearly read : “shut down those bloody retail stores. You will lose no market share”.

        In the US, their Retail is 9.8M£, Trade is 17.7M£, But I think this is mostly due to coverage. There’s no regional breakdown for Mail Order, so it’s a partial observation, but that’s still 30% of shop purchases.

        Also comparing to PP, Wyrd, or other small companies that have no scale relation to GW does not make sense, they are not 100+M£ revenue companies.

        I’m not sure GW are still in complete denial, as they seem to make small steps to change things. I think they’d might improve a lot with some drastic changes to the strategy, but maybe they don’t want to take too much risks as they are still making good money, even if they are bleeding sales.

        • WH100M

          And yes, their Retail channel has -1M£ operating profit, while the Trade channel is +10.9M£. So it’s not profitable, but that’s not the point of brand stores.
          All brands which have stores in the most visible/iconic areas in the world usually have the same issues. It’s good for marketing.

  • davepak

    While you bring up MANY good points where GW is failing as a company and losing market share, your basic premise is about ‘should get rid of retail stores” is
    ONE HUNDRED PERCENT WRONG.

    In fact, having their own stores, business wise, is an incredible advantage….they just suck at it.

    There is a specific term for this – in business speak it is known as ‘vertical integration’.

    This is normally an incredibly advantageous place to be in. So much so, that it is sometimes called a “vertical monopoly” and in the past in some cases has been so strong as to be considered anti-competitive and regulated.

    While I will not try to teach an business class here, but the basics of it are, by being vertically integrated you get full business controls over all the aspects of the supply chain to the customer – you decide exactly how things are made, shipped, and sold. You control quality, quantity and have full opportunity to leverage the interconnected aspects of the business chain.

    Besides that, the REALLY big advantage here, is when these activities are segmented across multiple companies – each has to make a profit along the chain (manufacturer, distributor, retail ). When you are all these companies – you make all this profit.
    This is a HUGE advantage.

    It takes a LOT of capital to pull this off – which is the reason other companies mentioned don’t do it – they also don’t have the larger product mix that gw does, to support a retail center.

    (apple does this, many oil companies do this (owning the production of oil, the distribution of oil, manufacture of gasoline, the distribution of gasoline, and they own the stations) – this means the profit that normally has to be made at every step – all goes into the coffers of the single company.

    I won’t go more into business basics 101 here (do some reading about vertical integration and supply chain if you like) but the executive summary here is that having stores is actually an incredible advantage…..that gw manages to THROW AWAY ….for the reasons stated in the post.

    Again, I am NOT disagreeing with many of the opinions in the article – they are great examples of how GW is doing things poorly.

    But, the stores are not the problem, again we see the problem is that GW has no clue what they are selling, who they are selling it to, and how to sell it.

    • WH100M

      I agree with you. To back some of your thoughts, see what I was saying down in the comments, their Retail channel has -1M£ operating profit, while the Trade channel is +10.9M£.

      So they may not do it well overall, but they seem to be trying to improve location-wise to fix that.

      They should definetely not drop their brand shops of course, visibility has a cost, and it’s mainly their only advertisement method, but they may want to think how to further improve there to at least get a bit profitable.

  • Boondox

    The majority of us (myself included) seem to have forgotten a fact that GW keeps reminding us of. They are not a gaming company, they are a model company. So shouldn’t we be asking if any other model companies have had success with stores that only sell their products?

  • Peter

    A new One-Man GW company store just opened in my area and the store has managed to reignite the hobby in my area. I am glad the store is here even though I will be continuing to shop at my local store. I think the job of the GW stores should be more focused on supporting and building the player base rather than focusing on the bottom line. The real problem with our hobby is not the GW stores, it is those players that purchase their models online and then leach tables at the local game store where they rarely make a purchase. I think GW should make it harder to sell their product online because for the most part online stores don’t contribute to the hobby.

  • Dennis Finan Jr

    I was at the one in the village in NYC. Great location and there was alot of people painting and doing an age of sigmar campaign/tourney. Alot of people wandered off the street too to check all the models. Cant really get anymore high traffice then the village in NYC