Pimpcron asks a question of ethics when it comes to our friendly local gaming stores.
What’s up jive turkeys? It’s that time again where the Pimpcron descends from his snowy mountain top to drop a serious question on your faces.
Here’s The Issue
For those of us who are lucky enough to have a friendly local gaming store (or FLGS from now on because that’s an irritating phrase to keep writing), it is a great place to hang out, play pick-up games, and meet friends. They provide an important service to us gamers by primarily giving us a nice place to play our games and host our tournaments, and hang out.
You know what else we do there? Hopefully for them, we buy stuff. The stores we play at have rent or a mortgage to pay, employees to pay, products to stock, an electric bill, liability insurance, worker’s comp, matching employees’ Medicare and Social Security, property insurance or renter’s insurance, state and federal unemployment insurance, state and local business licenses, and a long list of other things they have to pay for. I run a family business in my non-blog-related life, and if you don’t have experience running a business you might be surprised at how much employers have to pay for. I know some of you might scoff at the notion that employers don’t have it easy, and personally I’m no particular fan of huge corporations. But I know from experience that many of our mom-and-pop stores really struggle to keep their head above water.
But you know what else? Our FLGSs aren’t the only game in town as far as selling our hobby stuff goes. The internet has done a wonderful job of bringing us a bazillion different choices in who we buy our hobby products from. These online stores can sell to literally anyone because they are in the business of shipping their product anywhere and not relying on local people nearby to buy stuff from them. And nearly all of these websites offer serious discounts on products, many with free or flat-rate shipping. That is pretty hard to compete with if you are a mom-and-pop local gaming store.
But you know what else, else? Our hobby is very expensive. Wow, what a shocker, huh?
So what am I getting at? My FLGS doesn’t offer any type of discount on product, and I am standing over here with three kids, a wife, bills to pay, and the desire to have a hobby in my free time. On one hand, I am completely in the camp of “Support Your FLGS” because I know how hard it can be to be a little fish in a big pond as far as business goes. On the other hand, part of me (and my wife) says that if I can buy the same exact thing for 20% less and free shipping, I’m stupid not to.
So I’m stuck between having a nice gaming store owner that needs revenue to feed his family, and me wanting to be able to have a hobby while still feeding mine.
So What’s The Solution?
What I have been doing is buying product that is roughly $75 or less from my local store whenever I can (just saying good bye to the potential $15 savings) and buying anything over that online at 20% off. It makes me feel terrible because I really want to support my store, but at the end of the day money talks. It becomes Money Versus Principle and money usually always wins. Plus, even though my wife is nearing sainthood with her acceptance of my hobby and never gives me a hard time, we are still a team and I have to answer for how much I spend at the end of the day. She doesn’t just go shopping willy-nilly without telling me.
Now before you say it, I know that game stores have a “No Discount” clause with some of their suppliers that keeps them from offering discounts. To that I say, where there is a will there is a way. From my experience running a business, I can tell you that there is no such thing as blind customer loyalty. I might bend over backwards for them and we might have a great relationship, but if my competitors were 20% cheaper FOR THE SAME EXACT PRODUCT, they would all leave me. No question about it. The customers that really liked me might ask me to lower my prices to at least resemble the discounted ones before leaving me if I said “No”.
If my local store would even give a 10% discount or something I would be willing to eat the lost potential savings and buy everything from him. I would be willing to buy into a membership program or something in order to get a discount. I just need him to meet somewhere in the middle, or else I have no choice but to only buy smaller items from him. I might get flamed for saying that in the comments, but it’s the truth and part of running a business is doing whatever you can to keep customers. I know that first-hand.
Okay, so how many of you are lighting torches and how many of you see what I’m saying?
Want to witness my slow descent into madness first-hand? Check out my blog at www.diceforthedicegod.com