This past weekend I went out to Saint Louis, Missouri. While I was out there a friend of mine took me to a local gaming shop in his town (it was actually Saint Charles). He was excited for me to see it, as he’s an aspiring tabletop player and has been to the shops here at home. The name of the store was Fantasy Shop and it was one of the greatest local game stores I’ve ever been in.
When you walked in you were greeted with friendly staff that were all eager to help you with whatever gaming endeavor you were set out on. To the left were shelves of games, many of which aren’t normally stocked in game shops. On the floor there were neat displays of games each with an opened game on top so you could demo it yourself before buying. The shop catered to miniature players and carried plenty of minis, paints, rulebooks, and tools to get whatever armies you had in top gear. It was truly a sight to behold. My eyes were filled with gaming glory as I walked about the shop.
Fantasy Shop had a great way of displaying their products and getting customers excited about games, but that’s not the most amazing part of this magical wonderland. What immediately caught me were the noises and voices coming from the right half of the shop. You see, Fantasy Shop is split into two parts: you’ve got the left side of the store where merchandise is displayed for sale, and on the right side is a large open gaming area with tables set up. I walked around the dividers set up to split the store and was surprised at what I saw. There were many people sitting towards the back of the room while a guy was holding up gaming books and calling out numbers. What this was, folks, was a gaming auction.
Every six months Fantasy Shop holds a used game auction were anything from miniatures and RPG books to card games and old-school board games are auctioned off. Patrons come from miles away to sign up, get their number, and start bidding. Each auction is held on a weekend and the days are split between types of products. Saturdays are reserved for tabletop RPG games with miniatures and whatnot while Sundays are for everything else like card and board games. The best part about this auction wasn’t the sheer amount of games they were auctioning (because there was A LOT), but it was the fact that each bid started at one dollar.
That’s right, the opening bid on an item, unless there is a reserve, is one dollar and it goes up in one dollar increments. Dungeons and Dragons books were selling for a buck, bags of miniatures were going for less than five dollars and there were plenty of things selling for cheap in between. I didn’t stay for Saturday’s auction but I made sure to return on Sunday for the misc gaming session.
I walked into the shop on Sunday around noon and got set up with a bidding card. All it required was some information on my part and I had my bidder number in no time. The auction started promptly at that time and it got off to a great start. There were plenty of old board games and minis like HeroClix to be sold, and the tables lining the back of the room were full. The auctioneer Mike, who happened to be the store’s General Manager, would pull a bundle of games over (which were all arranged by lot numbers) and then introduce them. He’d allow people to come up and look at the games and then the bidding started. Unless the game’s owner had a reserve amount on it the bidding started at one dollar. You’d hold up your bidder card and the amount would increase by one dollar until you were the last bidder holding up a number. The higher-end gaming stuff would see bids in upwards of $50 though a lot went for cheap.
Any money earned from these auctions goes straight to the store, and whoever submitted an item that sold gets the amount it sold for in store credit. Once you win something it’s written down and when the group takes a break you can cash out and take your items home. It’s a great way to boost sales for the shop, introduce people to new games, meet new players, and get involved in the community. These auctions get a lot of attention and they last all day. I stayed from around noon to about 4 PM and actually bid on some items. I walked out with three WoW raid decks for the TCG, a Lord of the Rings game, a whole box of Menoth Warmachine miniatures, some WoW miniatures, and bag of MechWarrior HeroClix. After all of that we ended up paying less than $40 for everything.
For coming to the auction without being prepared I think I did pretty well, and the cool thing about it was that my wife was there with me and we had a lot of fun. I think these auctions are a lot of fun, and while I was there I really felt a part of their local gaming community. There were a lot of games I wanted, and a lot of great games overall. The shop ended up making a really nice haul and it’s something I’d definitely travel back for.
After going to the auction it makes me want to start something similar here in my hometown. I know a lot of gamers who would love to unload some of their older games and accessories and get something out of them. On top of that, what’s better about an auction than finding a good home for your old used games? If you’re ever in the Saint Louis area and have a chance to check out Fantasy Shop, make sure you do. I know I’ll be planning a trip back there very soon.