I decided to make this particular “Message” from me alone as it is pretty opinionated. Earlier this week I heard that Games Workshop is opening a new store in Sarasota. This is really cool news in that having a second GW-branded store in Central Florida (with the other being in Orlando) is a great boon for the tabletop miniatures portion of the hobby. But it also points to a major point of contention for me. This opening is an attack on an existing store.
Dark Side Comics & Games has been operating in the Sarasota area for several years. They have a very robust in-store experience and a varied stock line that includes sci-fi, fantasy and historical war games. The Games Workshop family of product is a sizable segment of the store’s stock and they have allocated a good amount of their in-store play time to those games. In short, they have built the Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar market base in that area through a lot of effort and expense.
Now, Games Workshop is moving in to reap those rewards for themselves. It is a standard part of the company’s approach that dates back to their earliest days in their UK home. I met a gentleman who used to run a hobby shop in an English town and did great business for a few years building up the GW player base. Once the market was established and economic viability was proven, the company opened one of their Hobby Centers across the street from the man’s store. It gutted his business. I hope that Dark Side does not suffer because of this development. (Go on YouTube and there are other similar stories to be found. You also can find a very big number of video posts covering other elements of GW’s pricing, marketing and distribution methods.)
Do not take this as a complete loathing of Games Workshop. I love their game settings, especially 40K, and I find their miniatures consistently to be at the top of the industry. I also like the core rule system and most of the various modifications and tweaks that have been added and removed over the years. I even have been doing (very slow but steady) work on drafting my own campaign based on the broad strokes of the 40K setting. But as a hobbyist and as a former product buyer for a game store, I have witnessed their business practices for years and do not want to see something unpleasant and unfortunate happen so close to our backyard.
Our next Guild Game Night is coming up on Friday February 28. We hope to see you all there … and bring a friend!