From time to time I find myself traveling with family or for work. One of the things I love to do is find the local game stores and explore what they have to offer or sneak in a game or two.
I was able to visit three stores on this trip; Dark Tower Games in Bellingham, WA, Guardian Games in Portland, OR and Matrix Cards & Games in Gredding, CA. All three of them had unique qualities that made it very different from visiting a GameStop in three different cities.
Dark Tower Games
The staff at Dark Tower Games was great and friendly. This store was the most “standard” of the three on this trip. One wall was full of miniatures and table top gaming, the other (pictured to the right) was cases of Magic cards. One thing that stood out about this game shop is the fact their tables were already set up with card gaming play mats at every seat. Maybe they had an event that night. I thought it was a nice touch. and shows they care about their gamers.
They had a small section up in the front of the store with sale items. I ended up finding a box of Pyg Burrowers on sale 1/2 off. Picked them up on the cheap and I am looking forward to painting them up.
If you are in Portland and you don’t go to Guardian Games, you are missing out. This store is massive (picture to the right is just 1/2 the front area of the store). They have everything from Lego sets to Magic cards, to a bar (yep beer on tap). Tons of board games, tabletop for every game you can think of, and a huge section of RPG games.
The staff went above and beyond to help us. My son was looking for a specific Lego set. They had just received their shipment of Lego sets. They stopped what they were working on, pulled out their invoices and priced the sets so my son could buy what he was looking for.
Plan on spending a good few hours browsing this shop. They have everything you could imagine. While their prices are the same as any retail shop, Portland does not have any sales tax, so what you see on the price tag is what you pay. I picked up Logan Grimnar on sled and a D20 CritSuccess ring. I was so tempted to pick up the Imperial Sector they had, but just didn’t pull the trigger on that purchase.
Matrix Cards & Games
The final stop on our trip was Matrix Cards & Games. What a wonderful little shop this was. The owner was an amazing person and dedicated to his store and the hobby. His store is broken into two sections.
The first is a gaming section with miniatures and gaming space, out the door and head to the next door and you have a card game area and sales counter. It was neat seeing the two broken up like this. It means the groups are not competing for table space, and don’t have to worry if there will be room for you to play.
He even had an area in the back where he keeps things he is selling on eBay, which you can buy on the spot if you want. It was a great little gaming shop.
While I enjoy having a single store I can count on to provide me my gaming needs, traveling and talking with others who love the hobby as much as I do it a lot of fun. I might start carrying a small army with me to get in some games on the road.