Everyone who enjoys collecting tabletop games knows that the hobby is not a very cheap one. I look around the dungeon, see the amount of board games on the wall, and just imagine the total cost of it all if I added it up. I can honestly say that I have spent over ten thousand dollars on board games, and it is probably closer to fifteen or twenty.
Have I always made the best decisions on purchases of board games? Have I always weighed my options so that I could save the most amount of money, or shopped around to see who had the best price? That would be a big fat no; hell sometimes I would walk into a friendly local game store and drop a couple of hundred dollars on games without even looking them up. The problem is, when we spend our hard earned money, we need to get the most for our dollar so that more board games can be purchased.
As a former game store owner, I completely believe that if you are going to utilize the service and space of your friendly local game store (FLGS) then by all means purchase games there and support them. Game stores are a difficult business to run, and survive due to the continued support of their customers and community. The issue with a FLGS is that they dictate their own prices, and depending where you live, you could end up paying well over retail price.
As an example, I live in a city of around 100,000 people and we have three FLGS, all of which have different pricing for board games. Recently I checked out the prices of a few games at one of the stores and among the highly priced board games one in particular sticks out in my mind. Santorini, which retails for approximately $40.00, was being sold for $69.99. Most people will be quick to point out that the overhead of running a brick and mortar store would warrant the price being so much higher than say Amazon who has it listed for $39.99 at the moment. My answer to that would be that 401 Games in Toronto, which is a much bigger store with much higher overhead, has it listed for $44.95.
Last year I did a quick calculation of what I purchased at my local game stores and what I could have gotten the games for online or shipped from a different store. It turns out I could have saved over $500 just by researching and not impulse buying. With that money I could have purchased seven or eight decent priced games, or two really overpriced ones.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t shop at your FLGS, I definitely think that if you enjoy using their space for gaming, or they have great customer service, then you should support them. However, for a person who just collects and plays at home, or someone who doesn’t exactly have a huge disposable income, remember that there are always other options out there. We shouldn’t have to pay 50% above MSRP just because we live in a smaller city.