Saturday 16 August 2014

Online shopping luck... or at your local games store (if you're lucky)

I've had a good experience lately doing a bit of online shopping which has sparked some reflection on hobby shops and wargaming purchases in general.

Now, I have historically done a lot of my hobby shopping online, because these days I generally know what I want (in advance of when I will want it) and I am usually planning ahead so don’t get all compulsive…
… except today.

I realised with a mounting sense of dread that I had missed out ordering the Space Wolf Data Cards.

I checked the GW website. 

In a slight state of panic, I rang up the local GW. I even rang up the Lower Hutt One Man Band shop. Nothing. A quick eBay search showed some USA stockists selling only to the US. Grrr I hate you (because I haven’t sorted freight forwarding but let's blame them because it's easier than taking responsibility for oneself).  The UK shops showed they were both in stock and out of stock. ARRGH! And it was too early in the day to call. The panic was really starting to amp up now…

Suddenly a brainwave. I had recently made a purchase at Livewire Games in Auckland, so I flicked them an email hoping on hope they still had one in stock. Pretty quickly I got a reply. They did. One. It had already been put aside for me.

I quickly paid and not long after that got an email to say my order had been dispatched. WHEW!

So a big thank you to James at Livewire ( for sorting me out. 

Regading actual bricks and mortar hobby shopping, it seems like not that long ago (but is actually 2 years now) the local non-GW games store in town, Wargames Supply, closed down due to lack of… support, turnover, profit, cheap rent… all those things that affect small businesses.

That has left several (primarily) modelling stores, the local Games Workshop store, and one new games store as places I can actually step foot into (although I haven’t been to the latter, yet, as it’s on the other side of town and my weekends are generally very busy with family).

Since I am vaguely discussing good hobby shop purchasing experiences (although let's be honest, today was combined with a bit of luck) there are a couple of Christchurch stores that also deserve a mention. Comics Compulsion ( is a fantastic shop with a wide variety of product, great service and Tim (the owner) is such a passionate advocate of the local wargaming scene (sponsoring Conquest every year). I always make a point of popping in to say hi when I am visiting family there. Nothing I have ever wanted to order has ever been any trouble.

Acorn Models ( is another great place where I have got general hobby ‘stuff’ – great range and plenty of advice freely given on what is the best product to use for what I am wanting to achieve.

And if I cast my mind back to the dim dark ages past (the mid 90’s.... when I was living in Hamilton), there was Mark One Comics and Games ( I used to run the 40k night gaming on a Thursday, where I used to get paid a blister (pack, not actual painful one) in return for my time. An excellent trade (Necromunda was big in my gaming group), and it was an excellent shop.  

As for my local Games Workshop store (, I still try and pop in there when I am down that end of town – particularly if I am after paint, or brushes (while I am currently using Windsor and Newton brushes I really enjoy using GW brushes…. don’t ask me why. I just do. They feel right).

In particular, I always enjoy looking at what armies/models they have painted in the window, and chewing the fat with the manager, Nathan (who lets me do at nearly 40% of the talking as well, something I appreciate). I like just popping in - these guys do a great job getting new players into the hobby, and I always try to encourage people to go and spend time there getting to know the background and feed a bit off these guys passion (oh and make their first purchases).

So yeah – good wargaming shopping experiences. There’s something to think about and to celebrate. Have you got any stories about your favourite shops (bricks and mortar or online)? 


  1. Wellington has such a limited selection of gaming stores it's not worth trying to get anything from them. It's cheaper and I get better service from the other side of the world than I do from an NZ store. It's even cheaper to get my GF9 terrain from the UK than it is in NZ. The UK price also includes a round the world trip for the terrain (factory in Malaysia to UK and then UK to NZ) and it's still cheaper.

    retailers who think that simply setting up a shop and taking money from customers is all they need to do will go out of business. See the recent technical books store closing down. I got better service from Amazon than I did from that store.

    Even toy stores are missing out. If I want a specific TMNT toy (for Luke of course) I can't get that from a local store but I can get that from Amazon. Even though it costs more than local, at least I can buy it.

    NZ retailers really need to sort out their business model or any that sell stuff that comes in boxes will become extinct.

  2. I think you have some valid points here John - I think the key bit here is that, in order to utilise Amazon, you have to sign up. This is a lot less onerous process electronically (auto-populate? Why yes please benevolent Google) than it would be having to fill out a form at a shop to get on the mailing list or you consenting for the shop to use your personal details from your CC purchase to build up a profile about you (or, heaven forbid, you get some sort of loyalty card to clutter up your wallet more).

    Yes there are probably simple procedural answers to this but that's the main problem that strikes me (particularly about the shop in question)

  3. It's an interesting discussion, brick and mortar vs. internet.
    My preference is still brick and mortar as I get to walk out with my purchase and not have to wait (currently waiting an unspecified period of time for some Windsor & Newton brushes!).
    However, service is still king.
    If I can talk to someone behind the counter who's not a total horror show, as far as the retail world is concerned, I have even been known to wait for stuff to be delivered.
    Bad customer service is a massive no-no in the current retail environment, regardless of what you're selling. The internet allows me to order what I want, when I want, and the right to pay (currently) ridiculous shipping in some cases.

    1. Yeah R@t, it's always the person behind the counter that's the total horror show, not you eh?

      Where are you getting your W&N's from? I used a great place on the UK, took less than a week to get here and cheap as, bro.

    2. Supposed to be a damn wink in there!