HoP Idol II:n Musings of a Game Store Patron

 Last up in this week’s challenge is yet another take on Lo’s “Musings…” posts.  Looks like that one was a popular option.  This one comes from The_King_Elessar of “Mind War FTW.”
Musings Of A Game Store Patron – Totally Not At All Like When Dethtron Did An Article With This Name
TKE
here again, with a bit of a spin on the lovely Loquacious’ usual
lowdown of life …something else beginning with ‘L’.  Luckily, this
article ties in quite neatly with hers this week, which will either work
in my favour, or look like a cheap attempt to cash in and grab votes.
 Either way, I’m going to write the article I want, just like I always
do. 😛  The fact that it kinda totally sounds vaguely similar to one 8
months ago on this very site doesn’t matter – especially when I am
taking a different direction.
I haven’t been in
as many game stores as a good number of you, though unlike most I have
made the trip to the Mecca of GW’s *ahem* ‘Hobby’ and pilgrimmaged
(that’s a verb, right?!) to Warhammer World, so that cancels it out?  I
haven’t been to a humongous number of places, simply because I live in a
small country with a population of under 3 million (being within the
larger confines of the UK is pretty irrelevant when separated by a mass
of water) and the number of LGSes that have been open nearby in my
lifetime is relatively limited.
That said, I’ve been in a few, and I know what I do, and do not, like from them.
The most important, and perhaps the hardest thing to get right, is the atmosphere.
When
I walk in the door, I want to feel somewhat welcomed – I want to feel
comfortable, and I want to feel like they want my custom.
No, more than that.  I want to feel like they want my PRESENCE.
I’ve
been in stores where it doesn’t feel like the owner is particularly
bothered whether I come in or not – and that’s no way to run their
business.  I don’t want false sincerity and buddy-buddy ‘let’s be new
best friends’ – but I DO want to feel like the person behind the counter
is interested to know what I play, and are interested in the prospect
of me playing whatever-that-may-be in their premises.
Is
there a simple and easy formula I have to follow to make sure everyone
can get this to be the experience they give in their won stores? Of
course not.  It’s even easier than that – be friendly, be personable,
show at least a passing familiarity with the game system(s) involved,
and Don’t Be A Dick.
Probably the worst thing
to do is fail to greet a customer.  GW staff get a lot of derision for
the way in which they approach people entering the store from veteran
gamers, but the reality is that building a rapport with the limited
number of people in our hobby is a great way to make them feel relaxed
and spend more money.  The trick to this is not to be pushy, merely
welcoming.  That said, stony silence is probably better than being
greeted with a frosty reception – I’ve walked into a store, for
instance, where there was a M:TG draft tournament going on at the time,
and the overriding feeling was that I had intruded, simply as I wasn’t
‘one of them’.  
Technically, that’s inaccurate
anyway, as I am a lapsed TCGer, if anything – once you’ve been bitten
by that bug, the knowledge and mindset never goes away – and the fact
that I don’t play M:TG presently doesn’t actually mean that I don’t fall
under the same sort of general bracket as the players who do  -we’re
all varying kinds of nerd, but surely we ought to stick together rather
than polarise ourselves against similar but distinct interests?

I
know that’s a topic I covered already in my last article, and I’m
loathe to look a single-issue Blogger here, but it’s certainly the case
that alienating part of your prospective customer base is a bad idea.
 Anyone who noted all the invective levelled at Battlefront Games over
the last couple of weeks surely noted the drama and nerdraging that went
on over what probably seemed to them quite a small issue.

In
turning away what they claim to be under 10% of their players, they
made a very clear statement that they think they are more important than
the people who (essentially) pay their wages by
purchasing their products – and this is the kind of thing that a Bad
Store Owner does too.  Store owners that get too involved into a game,
or allow cliques to run rampant amongst their players – ESPECIALLY those
that tend to focus on a particular game to the exclusion of others –
are doing the same thing on a smaller scale, and these are the kinds of
places that lose their most vital commodity: customers.
I
haven’t been back to the aforementioned store, and in fact only went
there from pseudo-desperation in the first place, as the graduation to
an unfriendly place didn’t happen overnight but was an ongoing process
for some time, and caused my departure initially.  Conversely, I miss
going to a store I never visit anymore as nobody plays 40k there
(admittedly, my own desire to play is almost at an all-time low) because
the atmosphere was good and the banter excellent.

In
short – if you make me feel you like me being there, I’ll go – if you
don’t, then I’m not giving you my repeated custom…and I warn you, that
can be quite a sizeable loss in an industry where loyalty = survival.
 As the picture says, be better.

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