While its pretty simple to buy a board game from an online vendor or back a kickstarter, your friendly local game store(FLGS) has so much more to offer. Knowledge staff can help you find new games like your old favorites, public game space offers an alternative to always playing hostess, and events can introduce you to both a host of new friends as well as an entirely different game experience. Employing a few of these strategies should help you find a comfortable gameroom away from home.
Do some Google-Fu – A quick search of the surrounding area should give you an idea of whats available. Glossing over reviews might help eliminate spaces that aren’t a good fit. Pictures on their website should give you a good idea of what to expect when you walk in as well.
Check the event listing – Scrolling through the calendar and check out what kinds of events are hosted. Do they include games that new players might enjoy? Seniors? Is there a kids club? Does it seem like they’re trying to reach out to a cross section of their community through their offerings?
Crowd source – Check in with your favorite online community for their favorite spaces. There’s a good chance someone can give pointers for stores near you and how they felt about them.
Go with a friend – If the thought of trying out an entirely new space seems overwhelming, enlist a friend. You could make an afternoon out of traveling from store to store trying out game libraries and getting a feel for the atmosphere.
First impressions mean a lot – A good space should make you feel welcome from the onset. Do you feel safe and comfortable when you walk in? Is the space well lit? Employees cheerful and attentive? Is there a clearly posted code of conduct for the play spaces?
Taking stock – What are they selling? Does the focus seem to be on what you’re interested in? If the shop seems to be 95% minis and wargame tables but you’re an avid Herbaceous Sprouts player, you might not find the experience you’re seeking there.
Consider the employees – Are you greeted when you come in? Do they ask about your interests? How are they at answering questions? Oftentimes the employees set the tone of the space – if they’re cheerful and accommodating, there’s a good chance most of their patrons are as well.
Sign up for an event – If you’re comfortable enough to try a second visit or you have a visit pal, try finding an interesting event on their calendar and sign up! You’ll get to try out something in the space with a purpose a gauge how the other regulars act in the space.
Enlist a friend, google up some local places, and go and find out! Your next best game experience may be waiting through the doors of your friendly local game store!
“It is good people who make good places.” ― Anna Sewell