This afternoon I stopped by one of the better indy game stores near my home. It doesn't have the best selection or the best prices, but what it does have that I value is a staff made up of honest adults who bend over backwards to help me out. They're knowledgeable, honest, and they don't treat me with false familiarity or undeserved disdain. They run a business, and I have an appropriate and grateful status as just a customer. A related quality is that they don't suffer fools easily or often. Anyway, while I was there picking up some nice Playstation and Gameboy Advance rarities when another gentleman walked in, asking if he could buy an emulation console and/or USB controllers. Specifically, the clueless customer wanted something that he could load ROM images onto and play on a regular television, without the bother of all the software installation and configuration. The manager on duty was doing everything he could not to blow up at the guy, and after he left empty handed I said out loud:
"Hey man. I want to buy something that results in me not having to come in and buy anything else from you. You got anything like that?"
We shared a good laugh, and the manager opened up about how hard it is to keep a game store business going in a down economy. I observed that my copy of MechWarrior 2 rang up for $5, and that the GBA Lufia game was only $6. Lower prices than I expected, and while I'm not going to complain about the bargain I am worried about their long-term survival of game stores that don't anchor shopping malls and aren't backed by a large corporate debt cushion. I noticed before I left that one of the clerks was doing inventory and marking down prices, presumably in an effort to move some of the older stock.