When spending our hard earned money on this crazy hobby of plastic soldiers, we are blessed with a choice in store selection, deals and more. Warhammer may not be the most expensive hobby, but it certainly isn’t a cheap one either. Games Workshop’s price strategy has left quite a few hobbyists wondering about the future…
It’s understandable that, in turn, people choose the cheapest offer they can find. But a “cheaper” product often means less effort is being spent in selling the product or the hobby itself. On one hand, I think it’s sound logic to stick to the basics. But on the other hand, it’s the shops and online communities that put in effort to keep the hobby going and provide us a good deal of fun with the hobby.
Given our current consumer position, and the importance of our choice in ‘where we buy things’, it begs the question if we should spend our money consciously. The answer is “probably”, depending on how much the extra will cost us. I’d like to go over my own process of thought, and the criteria I use to choose “who to give my money to”.
The local shop
The local shop hosts the games, provides a place to gather, chat, and get to know other players in the flesh. While we may regard having a hobby shop as a bit of a dream job (we all love the hobby after all), it’s hard work to stay afloat in this economic recess. The shops rely heavily on their customer base, to the point they have a symbiotic relationship with their (regular) customers. Because I’d want that shop to stay “in good health”, I make sure that some of my hobby spending go to that shop.
There tends to be a catch, though. Few of the brick and mortar shops offer cheap deals. By consequence, I default all purchases for which no (good) deals are available elsewhere to these shops. In practice, this means I’ll use the shops to purchase all metallic or finecast models, paints and books. I’ll toss in the odd box of plastics on occasions and I’ll certainly keep a good eye on their deals if they do have them.
The online store
20% and free shipping… Online stores can offer considerable reductions at times, enough to tempt to use them occasionally. But even among online stores, there are notable differences. The online warhammer community is rich with forums, podcasts, video blogs, blogs (hey there!), ranking sites and a surreal amount of twitter chatter. While some of these services come for free, many of them are built by the hard work and money of the community itself. Podcasts, for example, are one of these fancy shows with a heavy price: expensive equipment, a great deal of editing time, hosting costs and more. All the while, they are often offered for free to the public!
When they use sponsors… it’s the sponsors that catch my eye. An online store sponsoring a podcasts tells me a great deal about that store: it is more than an empty site making money on Games Workshop’s products. It’s a store that tries to be part of the community, or at least acknowledges the importance of the community. Sponsorship is a great way to support those shows and through them, support the community that builds their customer base.
In particular, OG Games has proven itself to me as a remarkable store in this respect. They seem to sponsor most of the podcasts I like to listen to. They are not the cheapest store on the net, but they deliver a great customer service and support for the community. Maybe I just like to voice my opinion a tad too much, but when I choose to purchase a plastic army at their store, I made sure I let them know why I choose their shop, explicitly mentioning their sponsorship of the bad dice podcast. As a customer, this is my way of saying “I’d like you to keep sponsoring that show… and as long as you do, I’ll try to support you too”.
What about you?
I think I’ve rambled quite a bit, but what about you? How do you choose your shop? Do you simply go for the cheapest deal? Best service? Or do you look for sponsors like I do?