For as long as I can remember, I have loved Game Daze, my friendly local game store. I have spent many hours and many dollars there in my time. For years and years, I would look forward to going in and browsing all the fun merchandise they had in stock. I have many memories of being in that environment, and it holds a special place in my heart.
And now, they are going out of business.
I feel much more personally affected by this than I should. It is, after all, just a store. I have seen stores go out of business before (RIP, Atomic Comics), so this is nothing new. But somehow, deep down, it’s like I’m losing an old friend.
Seeing Game Daze close has made me notice an interesting Catch-22 currently happening in the industry. Over the last five to ten years, we have seen a major boom in the hobby game market. Thanks to a widespread desire for the simple enjoyment of good company, a search for mental stimulation and (usually) healthy competition, and a sense of nostalgia for a more unplugged time, board games are becoming big business. With the advent of Kickstarter, BoardGameGeek, and other special-interest communities, gamers now have means to network, share knowledge, learn about upcoming releases, buy/sell/trade, and spread the love of the hobby.
However, amidst this industry boom, when it seems like retailers should be doing better than ever, they are closing their doors. Amazon and other e-commerce outlets have made it extremely difficult for small-time stores to compete. Game Daze is selling a game at MSRP? You can bet that the big-wigs like Cool Stuff Inc, Troll and Toad, and Funagain Games all have that same item for half that price. Especially as companies like Amazon are providing faster and faster shipping, why would anyone NOT buy from them? Because you want to support a local business? Okay, fair enough. But would you honestly pay sometimes double the Amazon price to support that local business? If so, you’re a better person than I.
In retrospect, there were signs that Game Daze was hurting long before they officially announced their closure. Signs with statements like, “If you buy it on Amazon, it may be cheaper, but if you buy it here, you can play it tonight.” Or all those big sales they had. Or all the game nights and events they hosted to try to get people through their doors. If I look back, these seems to have been a long time coming.
It is with a melancholy heart that I bid farewell to Game Daze. Thank you, Game Daze, for all the memories. Thank you for being integral in getting me into the hobby all those years ago. You will be missed.
As the face of the industry changes, let us not forget our friendly local game stores.