Saturday was my oldest son's 8th birthday, so he and I paid a visit to our FLGS, otherwise known as Ernie's Games. My boy was flush with some gift certificates and cash, and it was more or less burning a hole in his pocket.
Mr. Frodo (his nickname, natch) decided he was lacking undead, so in the spirit of the season, he picked up some skeletons AND some zombies, as well as the Angel of Death. He was also looking for a dragon, but Reaper's Lavarath was $50, so he's holding out for something a bit less pricey.
I can only imagine what it's like to be 8 and making a trip a shrine like Ernie's. Walls of miniatures, display cases with painted armies, tables with terrain, minis being painted, and of course all the books and games, too. I should mention at this point that Mr. Frodo also picked up a can of Silly String, and ran around with his older sister decorating our backyard.
It took me back to when I was a lad of 12 or so, and a magical place called USS Enterprise, my first FLGS that used to inhabit the upper mall of Totem Lake Mall. The monochrome modules, AD&D hardbacks, and good old-fashioned LEAD miniatures. There was even a room in back where diehard gamers could huddle around a table and play! Turns out some of my future friends gamed in the back of Enterprise. Now they just keep me around because I'm the only sucker who paints minis for the group ;) Later, I would discover other haunts such as American Eagles (back when they were on Greenwood) and Triple Alliance in downtown Bellevue.
But back to Ernie's and the present. It's gotta be hard to own a brick-and-mortar store these days. Case in point: the Reaper Lavarath dragon miniature. Ernie's price is $50 + tax. Direct from Reaper, the price is $44.49 and you get free shipping. And over on eBay, the lowest price today was $28.92 + 3.49 for shipping. Since I am a frugal bastard by nature, I would opt for the $33 mini off of eBay. So on big-ticket items, it's hard to compete. Now when I need a mini or a couple of paints in a hurry, it's huge to be able to drive a couple of minutes into town, grab what I need, and head back to the workbench. Same goes for my kids, when they want to spend birthday money - it's more fun to go somewhere and browse the shelves and walk away with a purchase in your bag than point and click and wait for the postal carrier to show up next week.
I hope that my little bit of business helps keep Ernie's around, you know? Because I want my kids to have fond memories of toy & game nirvana, just like their old man.