The concept of the FLGS - or Friendly Local Game Store - is an incredibly integral part to the vitality of the hobby, even though this is not apparent to many of us. If you play in the garage with a group of dedicated friends or buy most of your models through direct order or on eBay, it is entirely possible you haven’t been to your local shop in years. Some in the hobby avoid their FLGS intentionally, in order to keep away from the stereotypes of smelly neckbeards, win-at-all-costs players, unattended children, and the general Cheetos-stained masses. While this attitude is understandable, it is vital that we occasionally throw a bone to our local hobby shops. Allow me to explain why.

Reward That Which You Wish To Persist

The greatest reason to make good use of your FLGS is that the financial support you can offer the hobby ensures that it survives. In many towns local gaming stores have been shuttered in the last decade as a result of players moving primarily to online ordering. You might save a bit here and there by looking for the best deals on any given order online, but without the revenue your sales would have generated for your local shop they often have to close down, reduce staff, cut hours, or become otherwise diminished. This is a really unfortunate side effect of the way this business works, and by making sure that you visit periodically, play the occasional game at your FLGS and buy something every few times you show up, you can ensure the continued existence of your gaming store. “But why should I care?” you might ask, “I don’t need a local store since II only play at home and have everything I need”. You may feel this way, but there are many advantages to having a thriving local store that may not be obvious at first glance.

A Gathering Place

If nothing else, your FLGS serves as a convenient place for everyone to get together and roll some dice. Usually they will have a table or two to use and the convenience of not having to set up and clean up at your own place every time you want to play should be enough to get people to come out and meet you there. You also have the ability to buy things in person and have them in your hands at that moment, rather than waiting for a shipment to arrive. Visiting your FLGS gives you the opportunity to expand your circle as well since it is unlikely that your garage group will introduce you to gamers you don’t normally play or chat with. Generally speaking, they’re larger than anybody’s personal gaming space and can better accommodate tournaments.

The Continued Growth of the Community

The FLGS also serves as the ideal portal for increasing the community presence for your hobby and can be instrumental in bringing new players into the fold. Take the example of ‘Timmy Everychild’, a young student who has earned himself a bit of pocket money and is looking for a way to spend it. The majority of young boys and girls aren’t likely to spend their money on wargames, it’s true, but how can they be compelled to explore it as an option if they aren’t aware it exists in the first place? What are the chances that you would have ever found yourself involved in this hobby if there hadn’t been a store near you when you started?

A physical shop is something that a prospective new player can see and makes the presence of the hobby more concrete to people walking through the mall where it is located. A curious girl might walk in and pick up a codex and be entranced by the art, eventually buying a starter box to paint up herself. A college student back home for the holidays might notice a new batch of models in the window and remember the good times he had when he was younger. Without a physical store for these people to see and a place for them to engage with us, it’s very unlikely that our hobby will see much of an influx of new people. After all, Games Workshop does very little in the way of effective marketing! It should also go without saying that without new blood, our hobby could atrophy and if we truly love what we do, we should want to share it with as many people as possible.

Support for Dedicated Store Workers

It is also worth considering the shop’s owners, management, and employees. Generally speaking, these people are invested in the hobby and have put their own personal time and financial well-being on the line for us to have the opportunity to have a more immersive hobby and a more convenient experience. They’re just like us, only perhaps more committed, and deserve some recognition for their efforts for the community. It might cost you a little more to buy a box from your FLGS, but that money goes to a real person who contributes to the continued success of the hobby. The next time you think about pirating a codex, think twice and remember that while it will save you money in the short run, it hurts the hobby overall. The FLGS is an important cornerstone of our community, and it takes all of us to keep it from fading away.