Online vs Retail vs FLGS
When it comes to games, I prefer to buy from my local friendly gaming shop (or FLGS), though I will sometimes buy online.
For me, there are really three tiers when it comes to shopping. Online is obvious. These are the online stores like Amazon or Coolstuffinc. And while shopping at your FLGS and shopping at Target are both retail, I do differentiate between them.
Shopping online more or less guarantees that you will let the product you want. I say more or less because even online stores will sell out of items. Shopping retail can be a crap shoot. Stores like Target, Walmart, even Barnes & Noble may or may not have the products you want. And they probably will not have the selection of an online store, or maybe even an FLGS. Smaller stores like an FLGS can specialize more, which can offer more selection. And, if you cannot find what you are looking for, you could possibly order it.
Now, there are other advantages of each, but, as I said, I do prefer shopping at my local FLGS. Doing this probably will not get me the best price on a game, but it will get me the best knowledge of a game. Online stores offer reviews, but they cannot always be trusted. I have seen one person who “reviewed” a G.I. Joe figure poorly and simply ran a diatribe about gun control. And, retail stores just don’t have the personnel to be able to tell you what a game is like. I’m sure there are even a few people working at these stores that have no idea that they even carry the games.
I also like shopping at my FLGS because they are locally owned and locally operated. In buying locally, I keep my money local, helping to build up the local economy. To be honest, I do this beyond games. When I have hardware questions or needs, I go to my local Ace Hardware, which is locally owned. And, like the FLGS, I actually get the answers I need, as opposed to a direction to another aisle.
Now, that is not to say that I do not rule out shopping retail, or shopping online. I have made purchases online, but not often. Most of the times it was because I wanted something that just was not available at any of my local stores. Other times it is just because it is convenient to do so. But I still prefer to shop locally. This is why when it comes to buying my Rebel Aces set for Star Wars X-Wing, I will buy it at my local comic shop where I’ve been getting my comics because they are a local small business.
And probably get another one at my FLGS as well.