When I first started my job here there was one looming question I had for the owners; “Why are you wanting to start a games store if you have never worked in one before, nor had you ever been involved with one before?”. Their answer was all I needed to hear to sign-up immediately – “We wanted a place for our kids and their friends to hang out and play board games.”
EPIC Ipswich has been centred around the idea of community and a safe place of inclusivity since day one. It’s something I have kept close to my heart every day since working here. It begs the question, why is it so crucial that Game Stores listen and grow with their community? I’m prefacing this with some of my own observations as well as thoughts from other gamers I play with.
Mistakes of game Stores
Unfortunately, too many game stores open up without thinking about their client base. Many open with the owner’s own game preferences in mind and try to build a community of like-minded individuals. Multiple problems from this but the main and obvious one is it limits business growth and ostracises potential clients who want to learn or expand into the community.
Why buy from a game store when you can just buy online?
With the recent global circumstances, many home-trapped individuals went and ordered a lot of new board games to pass the hours. This is great as board games exercise the mind and strengthen neurological pathways for problem-solving, critical thinking and a vast many other skills not often used outside of a workplace, however, unlike a workplace board games are much more fun…. and can be played at home, so why then would should a game be played at a game store opposed to the comfort of one’s own living room?
It’s an important question that should be asked. This is an obstacle I’ve regrettably seen and read about often being a store’s downfall.
When I think of a Game Store, I don’t just think about a place to buy games from, I think about the community, what games are being played there, and what games can I learn to play there.
In my household alone my family each has a different favourite board game and they are usually belonging to a different play style: games of chance (trouble), games of strategy (Cluedo), games of social deduction (Werewolf), card games (Uno), etc… A Games Store is the perfect environment for all these and more by having a structured night to come in and try different games.
It is the job of a Game Store to listen to the community and grow with it. If people want more games of D&D, let them have it! More Trading Card Games or nights to play them, let them have it!
Game stores and their patrons
Talking from personal experience, before EPIC opened, I had been to many different game stores. From warm welcoming ones to ones that wouldn’t give you much mind if you weren’t already a preexisting patron or enthusiast of the owner’s favourite games. For me, game stores represent safe havens where you can meet new people and discover new games. Many of my closest friends I have had the privilege of meeting through the gaming community. Inclusivity is pivotal to a Game Store’s success, it is such a vastly diverse community that there can be no blueprint on how to make it successful. From wargamers, TCG players, role players and your board game enthusiasts. Everyone MUST feel welcomed to help a healthy gaming community grow.
Your Friend and Ally,