Friday, February 15, 2013

The Death of a Game Store

I saw a post yesterday from +Jesse Butler  that Gamemaster in the Laguna Hills Mall was going out of business (with the attendant sale). I hadn't been to the LHM in a couple of months, and since I was home from work today with the kids I decided to head over there and check it out.

Gamemaster has been in that mall as long as I can remember. I didn't grow up around here, but I was in the Marines and spent many weekends in the Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills and El Toro area. There used to be a Tower Records on El Toro I visited whenever I had a chance, and Gamemaster was the nearest game store (aside from Game Towne in San Diego). After I was discharged, I often made road trips to various game stores in Southern California and Gamemaster was one of my regular stops.

The decline of the brick and mortar game store is a well-known phenomenon. Here in Southern California we've lost a large percentage of established full-service game stores. Gamemaster never had a large selection of role playing products, but it often surprised me (if I remember correctly, I picked up a run of Interface magazines there). What they did have was an tremendous depth and breadth of board games, card games, traditional games, darts, dice, a baffling range of accessories for playing card and other classic games, puzzles, you name it. I always knew that if I needed that one thing you can't find in Barnes & Noble or one of those board game carts in a mall, I could go to Gamemaster. I always felt some sense of security the store was still there. 

While the girls only wanted jump ropes they found (I tried to get them to pick up either puzzles or a game, but they wouldn't bite except for - of course - entirely too expensive selections), I at least was able to find these, and bought all three tubes:



The next time we go back, the store won't be there and that makes me a little sad. It might not even be the owner's fault - the mall has been going down the shitter for quite a long time. The last time we were there The Tokyo Store was still open, which was a favorite place for the girls to go. This trip, it was closed. There's one in the Mission Viejo Mall, but it's a smaller store and doesn't carry quite the same selection. There's actually nothing in there for the girls to be interested in anymore, except maybe Claire's. Hell, not only has the food court been closed for at least three years, but the public mall restrooms have been "temporarily" closed for at least that long. I think the only places that do any reasonable amount of business are the restaurants, probably because of the medical center across the street.

So, here's to a delightful little store. I might not have patronized the store with any frequency, but it was always comforting to know an island of game geekdom was holding out in the Laguna Hills Mall. It's fitting that the Fudge dice were the last things I will likely buy from Gamemaster because a standard set of polyhedrals were the first, more than 20 years ago.