For the gamer, the game store is more than just a shop. It also serves as meeting place, rumor mill and communications hub. Though the internet has made it possible to acquire gaming products more easily, the game store provides the social atmosphere that is necessary for tabletop role-playing.
Now, no two stores are alike. Some stores simply provide a place to purchase games, and that is it. Nothing is wrong with this business model. But, it is simply a business and nothing more. Some game stores are the stuff of gamer nightmares: poor product selection, employees with next to no product knowledge, and an atmosphere that says, "get your shit and get out!" These stores drive away both new and veteran players alike, which hurts the hobby. But then there is the Friendly Local Game Store, or FLGS as we gamers like to say. These stores go out of their way to provide a wide range of product, an inviting environment, and a place for gamers to meet and play. Today, I'm going to talk about two such stores.
Games Plus in Mount Prospect, Illinois is one of the best game stores, if not the best in the Chicagoland area. Seriously, I have heard stories of gamers coming through Chicago just to visit this little store in the suburbs. It is worth the trip. Games Plus has a wide selection of current and out-of-print games; role-playing games, boardgames and tactical simulations. Their walls are covered with miniatures for all genres. And best of all, they have a large game room for groups to play in. The store is also well-lit, clean and the staff are knowledgeable and personable. In addition to all that they offer a program to their regulars where, for every $100 spent in a six-month period, they give a $10 discount on purchases of new product. Games Plus is also the host for events such as ENWorld's GameDay. Overall, they provide great selection, great staff, and a great place to call your store.
The second store I have to mention is my current FLGS, Griffon Bookstore in South Bend, Indiana. The Griffon is a bit smaller than Games Plus, but in turn, it provides more than just games. As it's name suggests, it is also a seller of books. And by books, I am talking everything from science-fiction to military history to philosophy. Normally, a game store that sells items other than games would do so to their detriment. But by keeping their stock in the realm of things gamers are normally interested, they manage to keep things from veering away from gaming. On an interesting side note, when my father and stepmother came to visit me this past Februrary, we stopped by Griffon just to show them where I spent my Saturdays. Despite neither one having an interest in gaming, they walked out having bought around $20 of books and cards, as well as a better understanding of my favorite hobby. I can't think of a better endorsement.
Games Plus is located at 101 West Prospect Avenue in Mount Prospect, Illinois. The Griffon is at 121 West Colfax Avenue in downtown South Bend, Indiana. If you are in the area for either one, it's worth taking the time to check them out.