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Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Requiem for a Local Gaming Store

By Mitch Reed

In the past I have written about a great group of gamers who meet on Fridays at the Game Parlor in Chantilly VA who play some of the best history based Flames of War games I have seen.  Friday 20 November was no different and I was greeted with a friendly ‘hello” as I walked in the door.

The salutation came from Cindy Weigand, who may not have remembered my name all the time, but remembered me by site and always offered a friendly welcome to the store.

Billed as the "The store with every type of game,” the Game Parlor was a fixture in the Northern Virginia community for the last 25 years.  Run by Cindy and Rob Weigand, the store which once had two locations was a place where local gamers could gather and play and of course shop for many different types of games, paints, comics, or cards.

L to R, Ray Koch, Greg Cilla, Chris Wiley, Cindy Weigand, Jorge Durzen, and Jay Mischo

The sad sight of empty shelves

What made this day different is that this was to be the last Friday my group would meet at the Game Parlor since they closed for good on 25 November.  While many gaming stores fold for financial reasons, this closure is due to the fact that Cindy and Rob plan to retire and stay in the local area.  Due to the fact it was our last hurrah at the Game Parlor I decided to take the day off from work and show up for one last tank fest at that location.  The usual suspects from my past articles were present, Jay, Gregg, Ray, Dennis, Jorge, and a newcomer named Chris Willey who was playing in only his second FoW game.

The final table

In the last few years I have heard of a number of gaming stores closing their doors and usually it’s not due to retirement.  With the advent of getting everything cheaper online, many gamers seek bargains where they can and bypass spending their money at a local shop.  However a gaming store is much more than a place of commerce, it is also a place where gamers can meet and play.  I have always noticed how there are always more people huddled around the gaming tables than browsing the stores stock.

Gaming stores also become the homes of gaming groups which schedule nights to meet and play a certain game one night of the week. A place for gamers to congregate is so important to our hobby, if driven “underground” at a players house, where is the opportunity to get new players interested in a game and grown the hobby?  With this said it is important for us as consumers to support our local stores, and even more important for store owners to work with groups and clubs in their local area to host events or game nights dedicated to a particular game. Game companies also have a role in the survivability of the LGS; not only to keep releasing great products, but also ensuring that the LGS is stocked with the latest and greatest and having policies that help the small business who sell their games.  I am sure companies know that while they can sell directly to gamers via the web, they will not grow since word-of-mouth only goes so far and few “on the fence gamers” would attend a convention to see if the hobby is for them.

My force; 10 PzIIIs, 12 PzIVs, and 3 Marders

In the past when making a big purchase I have made it a point to travel out to Chris Huhn’s Huzzah Hobbies in Leesburg VA. I do this because not only do I like talking to Chris, but I know that it is important to support a LGS to ensure it stays around. Huzzah always has a great stock (which sadly the Game Parlor lacked) and has no problem finding things you need if he is out of a particular blister or box. Huzzah is also where my Friday group will resurface and hopefully grow and gain new members who become addicted to gaming.

Besides Huzzah, here in Northern Virginia we have other gaming stores; The Game Vault in Fredericksburg VA, Games and Stuff in Glen Burnie MD, Eagle and Empire in Alexandria VA and even a Compleat Strategist in Falls Church VA.  I would say all of these stores have different “themes” and they focus on different game systems which reflects what they have for stock and what events they host.  A good case is Games and Stuff, I have gone there for a Star Wars Armada tournament in the past, but other than the 2014 and 2015 Masters, they have never hosted a Flames of War open tournament that I'm aware of. I am sure I may have left a LGS or two out, however I listed the ones I shop at and who play the games I am interested in.

Soviets, loads of them
So what about the game we played?  Well it was “early” mid-war pitting the Soviets vs the Germans in an all tank clash at about 2,500 points each. My German force was limited to PzIII’s, early model PzIV’s and some Marders. I wished I could say we stopped the red horde but it was very tough to kill those KV-1’s, which with a front armor of 9 (sides are 8) made them impervious to my PzIII’s and hold up well against my Marders and PzIVs.

Some how I held the center

No matter the result, it was better than a day at work.  It was also sad to see a store that has been around close its doors; however I do wish Rob and Cindy the best in retirement.

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