25 July 2022
A reminder we may be post-Covid, but it's still tough.
Nick Smith is the owner of The Ludoquist, an award winning board game cafe in Croydon that, alongside the likes of those such as Fanboy Three, feel like they reside at the beating heart of the industry. Nick recently posted to the biggest board game Facebook group in the UK, Board Game Trading & Chat UK, his observations regarding the closures of FLGS this year alone, and offered advice and support from within the industry. With his permission, we're here reposting his views and advice.
This is the current list of shops that I believe to have closed this calendar year. This is probably non-complete, as some stores will simply put the closed sign on their door and not come back, and some I don't know about.
It's not good. And it's accelerating. Running a FLGS or BGC (Board Game Cafe) is not easy at the best of times. Launching one and surviving a year is harder, again at the best of times. While some on the list below are stalwarts of many years, most are less than a year old.
This is not the best of times.
These stores that will go under will vary on quite how painfully they go. Some will owe considerable amounts to suppliers. Most will be tied in to multi-year contracts on their premises. A lot will have signed personal guarantees on debt (or their parents/family will have). Debt may go on for years; or personal bankruptcy along with winding up their limited companies will happen.
A small few will be able to close cleanly at a lease break clause, sell off their remaining stock, and walk away battered but head held high. These are likely exceptions.
I've been fortunate not to have this happen to me. While on recent UK-based holidays, I've also been lucky to be able to visit with a bunch of venues across the country.
Each FLGS has an amazing and different spirit. Some are Magic dens. Some are high-end cocktail bars. Some host sewing classes, or sell air pistols (and armour), or mainly rely on comics sales, or plushies, or paint.
Some have amazingly nice toilets. Others...don't. Yet.
But they all have amazing spirits, and amazing communities, that are a reflection of their owners and staff. Running a FLGS (or in my case a BGC) is the toughest, most consuming, but most rewarding business I've done. If I do 5 hours work, I absolutely consider that a day off.
But the reward is not financial. I was chatting to an owner on Wednesday, and we concluded that our job is "Build a community. And don't go bankrupt".
There are a few games stores that make real money. But you can look at most of our accounts on Companies House and get a good idea of what's going on. Most don't.
Despite all this, people are still opening games stores. To those who want to do it because they want to build a community, I still say "Go for it"!*. But maybe not this year.
But if you want to make money, or just play lots of games, think long and hard. And particularly think long and hard about doing it this year.
*If you do want to open a FLGS or BGC, come talk to FLGS owners. People like
- Dave Salisbury (Manchester) and myself(Croydon),
- Drew and Rhiannon Gotobed (Newcastle),
- Jacqueline Thompson (Redhill)
- Adam Taylor (Kingsbridge)
- Jim Freeman (Sheffield)
- Russell Neave-Houghting (Southend on Sea)
- Mana Nancy (Eastbourne)
- Aaron Purvor (Wrexham)
- Shaheen Savarnejad (Hamilton, Glasgow)
- Richard Colley (Chester)
- Mac Mcgill (Ilfracombe)
[You can find these on Facebook or through their business profiles]
are here and available. We'll chat to you, maybe intern you. As will many others (As long as your business plan is not to suck up someone else's community) - drop in to a Fairly Local Games Store and it's likely someone will talk to you.
It's agonizing watching people open stores, or franchises when they are clearly not prepared to run them. We can help prepare you. We can't do it for you, we can't build your premises, or make more hours happen in the day. But we can help. Please come to us first.
- Geek Retreat Camberwell
- Geek Retreat Bournemouth
- Geek Retreat Dumfries
- Murphy's Vault
- Geek Retreat Stanraer
- Chase Games
- Dice and Decks
- Decks and Dice
- Geek Retreat Oxford
- Pegasus Hobbies and Games
- Not Just a Comic Shop
- Big Dog Books*2
- Geek Retreat Nottingham
- The Board Room Hull
- Geek Retreat Loughborough
- Geek Retreat Liverpool
- Geek Retreat Exeter
- Geek Retreat Middlesborough
- Geek Retreat Lisburn
- Geek Retreat Harrogate
- Watts Cards
- Geek Retreat Northampton
- Geek Retreat Wigan
- Geek Retreat Harrow
- Geek Retreat Daventry
- The Geek Bar, Harrogate
- Geek Retreat Bradford
If you know of any additional stores that have closed, or have intentions to open your own FLGS in the near future, comments are welcome.
Looking for more?
This review came from Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.Get your magazine here
If you want to read more about one of the most hotly anticipated games of the year, check out our interview with Cole Wehrle on ARCS! A new game from the designer of Root and Oath, and we've got all you need to know.To infinity and beyond
Join us in person
We can't wait for Tabletop Gaming Live 2022! An epic weekend in Manchester full of board games, card games, roleplaying games, wargames and more, with amazing exhibitors, great games, and an opportunity to game together in person.See you there!
Have you visited our game store? We have everything from mystery boxes, to games and accessories – including the above Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid, with a great discount! Head over to find your new favourite game.Visit the Game Store
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products