Over that past 24 hours or so, I have been watching a brewing feud and very unprofessional behavior by one local store. I am appalled at the pettiness of some that espouse that they are for promoting the hobby, but their very actions and words are overtly counter to this. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but it makes me wonder if what I am seeing in an indication of market saturation and scrabbling for market share.
Background (for discussion sake): Two stores exist only miles apart, Store A and Store B. Store A has had a troubles in the past and closed their doors once only to reopen within a year. Store B is owned and operated by a previous employee of Store A and has been open for about four months. The owner of Store A made some very unprofessional Facebook comments when the prior employee left to open his own store several months ago. Yesterday, the owner of Store A publically posted a very unprofessional comment on their Facebook page to local Dicemaster players that he would not allow the owner of Store B (by name) play in a sanctioned public Dicemaster event at his store this coming weekend.
I am not sure about any of the behind these scenes issues these two owner might have with each other, but I do give kudos to the owner of Store B for taking the unprofessional comments in stride and not getting into a public pissing contest. It speaks volumes about his character!
I have been a customer at each store in the past, but my personal opinions about the stores and the owners themselves have no bearing on this brewing situation. I am bothered by the open and unprofessional behavior of Store A in the generalist of terms. Each stores seem to cater towards that same type of customer base and outwardly, it would appear that Store B is doing much better in terms of more regular events with more participants. Appearances could be deceiving and I don’t profess to know that for sure. What I do know is that each is fighting for market share as routine part of being a business. Having the same clientele base in a modest market area, hurt feeling don’t surprise me in the slightest.
This brewing situation is an example of why our hobby is so fractured and why gaming at local stores in many areas is not something many people want to do any more. Instead preferring the sanctuary of their own homes, game clubs, libraries or even online to the sometimes hostile store environments that can exist. What are casual visitors to Store A’s Facebook page to think if they read his recent post? His post argues for promoting the hobby and other local stores, but won’t let the owner (paying customer) of a revival local store play in a public event at his store. It’s unprofessional to air this type of thing publicly and is serves no purpose, but to fire up his customer base and to cast a negative shadow over the Store B and its owner. Understanding how and why these petty unprofessional attitudes develop and come to the surface may help the customer base to reconcile if they really do want to patronize a store or not.
On a related note, I should mention that I have heard nearly all of the local store owners or managers (past and present) make some form of off hand comment about other local stores. Good natured rivalry is all part of business, just ask Coke and Pepsi! This current situation with Store A seems to take it too far and only serves to fracture the community further.
I can only imagine that this is happening elsewhere too. If you have examples of this type of unprofessional behavior, please do leave a comment.