My FLGS, The Game Parlor, has been charging folks to play in the store for about a year now, give or take a few months.
To play in the store for however long costs each player either $2 or a ticket given out with every $20 worth of purchase. So, basically, if you play in the store, it’s kinda sorta a 10% discount.
The new policy caused a lot of heartburn when it was announced, and a lot of the complaints were legitimate I think. Now that there are two GW stores within 15/20 minutes of GPC, there are places you can play, for free, on tables that have terrain (without having to bring your own). The store was asking for folks to pay for something they used to get for free.
I was, with some reservations, okay with it. I get a lot out of being able to play in the store; there’s a community there. It’s clean, open, and well-lit. You don’t have salespeople constantly interrupting your game. Game Parlor’s a part of the area community in ways Games Workshop stores could never be. Cindy, who runs GPC, is possibly the nicest person I’ve ever met. There is a value to playing in the store.
My reservations really boiled down to to points:
- Try other things, too. The store keeps screwy hours, for example: being open when it’s dead at best while closing so early, professional folks in the area don’t have time to play a game. Charge for tablespace if you must, but it’s not going to be the whole answer to the store’s financial woes.
- They’ve now put a dollar value on supporting the store. Before, the decision to shop in the store vs. going online was always a tough one. “Support the store… or save $30… Hrm.” It’s not as hard now. So long as I shop in the store enough to generate enough tickets to play in the store… it feels like I’ve discharged my duty to the store.
The table fees have had an effect. It’s chased out all of the people who used to just hang out in the store but never buy anything. I suppose that’s a good thing; I can’t see how it could be a bad thing. Unfortunately, in the IFL, it appears to have chased out a couple of people who did shop in the store. Some folks don’t show up in the store as often as they used to (of course, the screwy hours are more likely the cause of that.)
I learned last night that, somewhat recently (I haven’t been out to a Game Parlor in about a month thanks to surgery and recovery), the policy has changed. They’ve run out of tickets, see. People buy stuff in the store, get the tickets and don’t redeem them to play in-store… so they’ve run out. Now, you’re supposed to just, you know, hang onto your receipt and have them mark it off on the receipt.
For me, this is the last straw.
I suck at hanging onto receipts. I do. I also tend to buy a heap of stuff there (building up a number of tickets at once), and then nothing for a while. That means there’s no way I’m going to be able to take advantage of the “buy stuff in the store, get to play for free” policy; those receipts are going to get lost. This system does not work for me.
This is made even more frustrating because they have a system, in their computers, that tracks purchases: their old loyalty point system. In the old system, you’d accrue points equal to a percentage of your purchase that you’d then be able to treat like cash. I’ve been told that that system wouldn’t work for this but, and I say this as someone who writes code for a living, I can’t imagine why not.
So, instead of leveraging a system I know they have, they’ve devolved into this messed up, screwy system I know I’m unable to effectively participate in.
What does this mean? If I’m going to play in the store and need something that’s between $20 & $25, I’ll buy it in the store and immediately redeem the table fee. Otherwise, I’ll pay the $2, shop online, save heaps of money. I want to support my local store, buy they’ve now made it too hard.