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Tim Stoltzfus on Magic
Support Your Local Store!

August 29, 2005

This week is one of those odd weeks in the Magic universe, at least for me. You see, I do most of my playing on Magic Online. I own and operate two stores here in the Dallas area, and as a result I don't have a lot of time to actually play in person. Most events I am either set up as a dealer, or running my store. The only problem with playing Magic Online right now is that 9th Edition is a few days away from coming out, so I haven't had an good opportunity to play the set yet. Standard and Kamigawa Block limited play has been analyzed about as much as could possibly be imagined. I could give speculative theory about strategies, but I prefer not to do so, I prefer to speak from experience to give decent strategy advice.

At these odd times in the Magic Universe, you'll get something relating to Magic but not exactly strategy. Like this week's rant.

As mentioned above, I own and operate two stores in the Dallas area. I've been around the comic and gaming businesses for as long as I can remember. The hobby we all enjoy provides us many opportunities that are unique to itself. The community it creates, the friendships we build, and the experience of the game itself is unlike anything else. The problem is that it is a smaller, niche hobby, and it requires support to thrive. In short, we have to support those who support what we enjoy.

The gaming hobby survived for many years with the idea of a store being one that provided not only games people enjoyed playing, but also providing space and demos to allow people to play games and learn new ones. When Magic: the Gathering hit the scene, they also became the home of local tournaments that helped build the Magic tournament scene into what it is today. Now, those stores are constantly under assault, primarily by internet dealers.

Some people will take this as simply railing against internet gaming dealers, and they would be wrong. There are many good internet dealers, several of whom advertise here on Pojo. They even provide a valuable service. Many people live in areas with no store nearby, or, to be blunt, some stores just suck. When you're looking for that relatively obscure Magic single and the local store's idea of stocking Magic singles is to have a 5,000-count box of unsorted cards in the corner for you to dig through, the online dealer is a great boon.

The problem is when people start taking their local store for granted and allow price to become the only factor in their choice of where to purchase. We live in a society where price has become king on many commodities. The problem is Magic, and other games, are not a commodity. They're a hobby. Toilet paper and gasoline and toothpaste are commodities where the only real difference between most products is price. Magic is a hobby, a game, a community all wrapped up into one package, and the local store is the nexus of that hobby. The local store needs your support to survive and help grow the game. Next time you're at a Friday Night Magic, realize how much fun you're having, and ask yourself what that is worth to you. Realize that providing that space, and the air conditioning, and the staff to run the event is not without a cost.

Again, I fear people misunderstand my point in this when I tell them to support the local store. If your local store sucks, tell them so! Don't support a bad store, I would never recommend doing that. However, there's a lot of good stores out there all working hard to support your hobby, and they deserve your support. The next time you're looking to buy a box of Magic cards, consider buying from the local store instead of the online discounter. Don't be afraid to ask for a better deal if the price is simply too high. Most store owners are reasonable guys, and if you come to them and point out that you want to support them, but their price is just a bit more than you can bear. You might be surprised at the deal they will be willing to cut if you simply ask politely. Odds are they won’t match the internet discounter price, but consider the extra money they have to charge for the box to be supporting the game you enjoy, and helping it to survive.

So next time you're planning to pick up some singles, or a box, or anything related to your favorite game, remember how much your local store does to support the game, and return the favor, won't you?
Next time, I’ll be jumping headfirst into 9th Edition!

Tim Stoltzfus




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