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I'm really torn about this one... For those that don't know there have been two “real” game stores (ie: have a open gaming area to play in the store) in Tucson for over a quarter of a century. One was Things for Thinkers, the store my husband and his brother bought when it failed five and a half years ago for the starting stock and fixtures for our store. The other was Hardcastle Games, which was sold to a new owner around the same time. Times changed, and over the next few years Hardcastle defaulted back to the original owner and underwent a name change to Nemesis Games and my husband and I bought out Dave’s brother. But with the exception of a few months almost six years ago, there have always been two game stores here.

We were told very early yesterday morning (or really late the night before, depending on point of view) that starting the 31st of July, Nemesis Games is only open Friday and Saturday from Noon until 6pm for the purpose of clearancing out the remaining stock and fixtures and that come the end of Aug, they are closing their doors forever.

I honestly don’t know what to think about their closure. It may not have been the friendliest of relationships at times (much more from the regulars on both sides than from the owners), but they were still our brother-store. If we were out of stock on something they were only a couple miles down the road, and they would return the favour. All four of the current owners of Nemesis have “real” jobs, and are not reliant on the store for their income unlike Dave and myself. I always thought that if the recession took one of the two stores out it would be ours, since we couldn’t remove the burden of our paycheque from it the way they could if they just had a bad week or two. Only from what I’ve been told, it wasn’t a bad week for them… It’s been a bad year… We’re not exactly doing great, but we’re still clinging on.

It’s a strange feeling to find that our brother won’t be there soon and we’ll be alone. I hope we’re up to the challenge

Date: 2009-08-02 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahtoalaska.livejournal.com
Well, maybe this change is a good thing. It may be a tad harder when you have to tell someone there is no where else they can go for an item you don't have, but maybe your area just can't support two game stores.

Sadly while we all have lovely memories of them I have seen them slowly fade away recently. I don't believe we really have anything in Anchorage.

Good luck and I hope this change works out in your favor.

Date: 2009-08-02 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash-blackwell.livejournal.com
That kinda scares me right there. We have over a million people here in Tucson. The idea that we can't support both of the stores that have been here so long has me worried the economy won't allow Tucson to support us either....

It's been a couple of days and we're starting to see the beginnings of the Nemesis crowd peeking in cautiously. I'm hoping I can convince them that they are welcome here and that they aren't "second class" gamers because they didn't come here before the other store died.

(sigh) gamers....

Date: 2009-08-03 05:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahtoalaska.livejournal.com
They are kind of like wild deer. Put out feed, I bet they'll stay. :D

At least with on less store you'll basically have a corner on the market. Maybe that will be enough you know?

Date: 2009-08-03 10:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash-blackwell.livejournal.com
I'm hoping so. The biggest thing I've been hearing this weekend is the fact I have to squash the impression that my store "won." There are folks in both stores- mostly the military folks who haven't been here for years, but some that were loyal customers of the other owner that ruined Hardcastle's name forcing Ray to change it to Nemesis- that are saying we've "killed" Nemesis, as if we wanted to see Nemesis gone.

Ray over at Nemesis and Dave and I liked each other. Ray's talking about coming over to game here occasionally, since he’s not selling his personal armies. But the talk among the customers of both stores isn’t helping the folks who felt more comfortable over at Nemesis. My store’s crowd is primarily active-duty military and college students, his store’s crowd was mostly from one of the local high schools and retired military. We had different primary games for all that we had an 85% overlap in what we carried. He didn’t do board games; I only carried a few of the collectable card games. But we both had our largest sales from the wargame miniatures games (Privateer Press and Battlefront for him; Games Workshop, Iron Wind Metals, and Reaper for me). We each carried all five companies. Our customers just focused more heavily on different games.

And that’s going to be the hard thing about merging the two stores’ crowds… Games Workshop is the big thing here. They make two different games (Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000) and there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t have at least a few games played in store. Their crowd doesn’t play either Warhammer much. Privateer Press is their big thing and only a couple of my guys have Warmachine or Hordes models. One group or the other has to buy some very expensive toys to start playing together. A extremely cheep Warhammer army is $400 new, and the Privateer Press stuff is about the same, though you have a bit more choice in what you play in the cheep range.

And until they start playing together it’s always going to feel like “us” and “them,” even to those of us who are trying to help the crowds merge. I can’t greet the new boys by name coming in the door yet the way I do the ones who have been here, and if Jesse and Jason bring over as many as they are promising I’m going to have a lot of new faces to try to learn in a very short time and I’m not the best at fixing names with faces. I don’t know what to tell them about out of the new releases for the week when they come in and can’t look at the new product and know I need to hold stuff aside for them even though there’s no order listed like I can the boys I’ve gamed with for years.

Until they start gaming here where I can see what they play, there’s no way for me to learn what they want. As long as they see my boys get treated like family while I have to ask them what they need, there will be a knee-jerk reaction of they don’t “rate.” I’ve already had a case of it. I got Larry a Pepsi when he came up to the counter without him saying a word and then had to ask the new guy want he wanted and what his name was to take the money off of the positive tab system I have set up. He was very upset I hadn’t memorized what he drank and his name from the one time he had been here before this two days ago.

I know that to be a gamer means you have more likely than not have social issues (I grew up with gamers and have my own subscriptions, not issues). But surviving this group coming in without having the time to learn each person’s personality and quirks the way I would have with the normal 2-5 new faces a week maybe 1 will stick growth I’m used to will be a challenge.

Sorry for dumping… I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed with this on a couple of levels and this really isn’t something I can talk about even with my normal crowd because they are part of the stress.

Date: 2009-08-04 01:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahtoalaska.livejournal.com
I can understand all of that. I know I like to have a close relationship with my regular customers and kind of feel bad when I can't do the same with everything.

You know however that you are human. You can't expect yourself to know everything about everyone right off the bat. Personally I've never held it against a store when they didn't remember me the time or two I'd been in there. (Although apparently I'm memorable and usually people do remember) Honestly, if someone gets really bent out of shape because you don't remember every detail of the once or twice they've been in... chances are they are going to be one of THOSE customers and you aren't loosing much. Besides, even if you completely remembered everything about someone who'd only been in once... you don't know enough about that persons to assume you know what they need.

I drink coke... occasionally. Sometimes I will go into a craft store or something and by one, sometimes not. Once is not a pattern.

True, many gamers and geeks tend to have social issues. There is nothing you can do about that. You'll eventually get to know your new customers and what kinds of things they want. When you first started dealing with the customers you now know you didn't know their likes and dislikes. Now you do. The ONLY thing you can do is try to help them out the best you can. If they take it personally that you don't know all their details... that's their issue.

There is not much you can do about how people view your "role" in the others store closure. People will believe what they want. The only thing you can do is occasionally slip into a conversation something like "I miss Nemesis, they always had what we were out of." People will eventually realize you weren't out to "get" the other store.

You may have had two different kinds of gamers, but now that you are basically the only game in town I'm betting that other kind will start playing with you guys. Sure it's a pricy new thing to start up... but there is nothing like seeing other people doing something to make someone want to do it.

While I know it's hard right now I believe it will be good for you in the end. Gamers are social in their own weird way. I know my favorite thing about cons is just being somewhere where other people get it. Even if we aren't the same kinds of geeks it's good to not be the freak. So the people with issues you can do nothing about will weed themselves out and you should end up with more customers in the end.

Don't worry about dumping. I'm still good for it. :D If nothing else I'm a good "listener".

Date: 2009-08-03 09:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ash-blackwell.livejournal.com
I've just talked to one of my boys who's transfered up there recently on the phone this morning and he sys there are three stores in Anchorage that sell gaming stuff like what I have, but none of them have in-store gaming. Evidently they get together and rent a space for the customers to game at once or twice a month in the winter and once every couple months during the "warm" season (Chris's quote, not mine).

Date: 2009-08-04 12:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahtoalaska.livejournal.com
Yeah we have 3 comic/gaming type shops in Anchorage. (Well two are the same people but whatever)I was mostly talking about a store with gaming. I didn't know abut the renting a space. Not that that's a surprise... EVERYONE gets together in the winter. The yarn stores always have get togethers. I don't really game but I have a few friends up here who do.

Pretty much nothing happens in the summer months. Everyone is taking advantage of the beautiful weather.

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