I tend to be like Emily – this major part of her character is totally based on me – and it’s one of the reasons I’ve found it hard to be a retailer in a hobby store.

Imagine this scenario: A muggle (one who isn’t part of our hobby yet, who doesn’t know any good games and has no appreciation of “gaming” as a pastime) enters the store. “Wow, so many good looking games!” They’ll exclaim. Good start, good start. Coming up to the counter, they ask for Monopoly. Maybe it’s for a nephew’s birthday, but a lot of the times it’s for themselves, “to play with our friends once in a while”. It might be Talisman instead, or some minor card game. They’re looking for a fun experience – but to them, that mostly means playing games that they remember fondly due to nostalgia, it’s not actually about playing good games.

So I pick the just-like-X-only-better game, that I keep especially for these cases, and suggest this alternative instead. Talisman is nice and all, but maybe you’d like to try Runebound instead? Monopoly is fine, but how about Catan? Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t, since people usually prefer to defer to what they already know, and, again, most of them don’t see gaming as worthwhile, and therefore don’t see any reason to invest time in learning a new game.

Therefore, you have to show them it IS worth it. You need to show them that the rules are easily digested, with a 30 seconds long explanation. You need to show them the cool pieces, with an open demo box you’re keeping for such occasions. You explain the problem with Monopoly – without being judgemental – and help them see why X is better than Y. This is a lot of work, and you must do it again and again, with every new muggle. And it’ll still work, like, 50% of the time, so a lot of customers will leave with Monopoly anyway, leaving you hoping that at least some of your words registered, and maybe some day they’ll think about trying new, better.

And still I did the whole explanation, with every new customer, until the very last day, because everyone needs to play better games, all the time – and in the end it was so draining, to care so much, that I had to close the shop.


Kidding! We closed the shop because of completely financial reasons, relating mostly to importing games to Israel.
But caring all the time is kinda hard, anyway.