Wednesday, September 08, 2010

game stores

Over the weekend the whole Rients clan visited Six Flags amusement park in Gurnee, Illinois. I managed to get to a couple of games stores while up north. A brief foray to the Gurnee Mills mall lead to the discovery of Board Games Barrister. They had a respectable selection of boardgames and a few shelves of Wizards products. One guy at the store tried to give me the hard sell on the new WotC Basic box. I would have bought a copy for my nephew, but the little dude told me he wasn't interested. I found it interesting the Board Game Barrister also stocked the Dragon Age boxed set.

I had an interesting exchange with the clerk who tried to sell me the boxed set. He asked me what, if anything, I currently played. I said I mostly played Labyrinth Lord right now. He had never heard of it. When I explained that it was an emulator of '81 Basic/Expert he said "Oh, you mean like Pathfinder but for an older edition?"

The next day my wife, my sister-in-law and I journeyed to nearby Grayslake, IL in search of a used book store I had googled up. We showed up the one day of the week the shop is closed. But just down the street we found Unique Gifts and Games. This was a nice little nerd shop with a friendly staff. Though the open gaming area had a few tables spaced way too close together. It looked like it would be hella cramped on nights when every table was in use. The oddest part about Unique Gifts & Games was that the stock was 75% standard game shop and 25% New Age magical/occult stuff. I know there's a certain overlap between customers of both types of store, but I had never seen a combo affair before where you could buy both a book of D&D spells and an actual witchity spell components.

I was greatly disappointed that there was no used section, unless you count the D&D shelves:

If I remember correctly the joint had three shelves of 4e above that sign and 2 shelves of 3.5 below it.


  1. UGG's owner is a very cool dude but he is a businessman first and keeps his eye on what sells and keeps him in business - the minis and the recent flavors. He's open to all types of gaming and is happy to allow people to run there. It can get very cramped/loud in there, but it's a good energy and a fun place to play.

    I thought I felt a disturbance in the Force this weekend. Sorry we missed ya.

  2. I've found one of the best places to get used games is Half Price Books. Mine usually has 3-4 shelves of used game books and rotates the stock fairly regularly.

  3. Last time I was in the Chicago area I went to Games Plus in Mount Prospect, and as someone who loves miniatures was very, very, impressed. Massive selection of minnis new, old, and even stuff I'd never heard of, they also had a fair amount of older game stuff, which is not something you see in my local game stores.

  4. The 3.0/3.5 stuff here sells like hotcakes. You can pick up a 1st or 2nd edition AD&D PHB at most of my FLGSs for about $20 (they never seem have anything but Mentzer for classic D&D) but the local shops that carry ued books sell the 3.5 PHBs for upwards of $50. Strange that soemthing so readily available stillcarris such a price tag.

  5. I've found one of the best places to get used games is Half Price Books

    Seconded. When I lived in the Colonies, there was a HPB just around the corner. It had a (perhaps unsurprisingly given that it was in St Paul, Minnesota) large and varied rpg section.

    I last visited about a year ago, and they had a Rules Cyclopedia in excellent condition for about $10. I should have picked it up!

  6. When I was stationed in that area I used to go to 2 different stores that apparently didn't like each other much.

    Friend's Hobbies whose owner wrote the miniatures column for Dragon Magazine at the time, and the other one whose name I forget.

    I wouldn't doubt that given the way gaming is and how stores go they wouldn't be there any more though.

    My area in CT may be poor for active welcoming gamers, but there are 3 nerd stores and all of them are pretty much 10+ year businesses.

    (Sarge's Comics in New London, Citadel Games in Groton, Arkham Asylum in Norwich)

  7. Friends hobbies is still in the area, but it moved to Antioch. It is the same store you remember it to be though. Horder level cramping and crowding, with an insane amount of out of print stuff. Last time I went in there looking for Gorkamorka, Fairy meat, or Eldar figs. I found a handful of each, without causing a crap-o-lanch.

  8. @Kelvin, in March I picked up the Cyclopedia at an HPB in St. Paul!

    I'm not sure if it's the same copy, but how funny is that?

  9. Jay, whether it is the same copy or not, I'm going to say it is. I'm glad someone bought it!

    Was it the one on Ford Parkway? I loved spending afternoons browsing in that shop.

  10. Anonymous5:51 PM

    Speaking of game stores that also carry occult supplies, Spellbinder's in Kent, OH, used to do. A good 5-10 years ago they moved to a slightly better location in the college town of Kent, and I understand it may have been the owner's girlfriend, or maybe just a buddy, who was into paganism, witchcraft, & magick with a k. Paul, the owner of the store, is also a professional magician, so they carried magic tricks too. So at one time you could find magickal stuff, magic tricks, and Magic:tG all in one store. They also carried comics and video games to some extent and around Halloween sold & rented costume stuff. A one-stop geek Mecca, really.

    But they didn't last long in the new digs and it's been online only for years.

    Another neat thing was they had tons of copies of Tom Moldvay's Future King game. (Moldvay was from the Kent/Akron area) It was about $5 on the shelf but I see they are $33 now online. Spellbinder's also published an AD&D 2e module that could be played solo or with a party with no DM! Both are still to be had at the online store.

    Dunno if he still sells occult stuff though.