I can't tell you how much I wish that every one of you who is a gamer or genre geek was within driving distance of me, because there's a place I'd love
to take you to. It would blow your mind
Unfortunately the person I know who would probably like this place the best can't really travel; I'd never be able to get him there. And that's a real pity; not a cliché in this case, it REALLY IS sad that I can't get him there (and I'm sure he knows who he is).
I asked the guys in my D&D game about local game stores, and they told me about two of them. One of them is actually less than five minutes from where we play. Unfortunately, it's not very large or impressive; there isn't much for sale. They do have some amusing things, and Sebastian liked it, but there wasn't anything I wanted to pick up right away. I did order a couple of items (including a reversible Battlemat), but that was it. Incidentally, Teri thought that I seemed more knowledgeable about games than the guy who was running the store. That surprised me, because Teri's not that
interested in gaming and she definitely
wouldn't say something like that to pump up my ego; I'm sure she meant it.
The other store was in Worcester, Massachusetts, about a 45-minute drive away. According to the guys, it was much
better; they had used games, comic books, and DVDs. I wanted to pick up some D&D 3.0 stuff, so on Saturday the three of us headed out. Sebastian didn't want to go (it was a horrible weekend for him in general; he was being really
bad), but we managed to persuade him to come along without too much screaming.
Teri was driving. She usually does, and in any case she knows Worcester much better than I do (I don't know it at all, actually). I'd printed out directions from Google Maps.
Those directions sucked.
We went around and around in Worcester, and never saw the slightest sign of the street that we were supposed to take a left on. Finally Teri drove up to a couple of scary-looking winos in a very scary part of town and asked for directions. One of them gave us astonishingly detailed directions, and then asked us for four bucks for a train ticket. We gave him two, and then went on our way. I seriously doubted that the directions were any good. But I did that wino (and Teri) an injustice.
We were headed into an even scarier part of town, and I was pretty sure that we were lost. But suddenly I saw a small Armenian restaurant, and only a second later I saw It: That's Entertainment
(Quick note: their website sucks
. It's a clear case of someone going WAY overboard with an effect that they thought was cool, but which slows down the browsing process unacceptably and won't display well on every browser.)
As I was saying, it was a scary neighborhood. Worcester is a pretty tough city. The storefronts were covered with iron bars and grilles. The store itself looked dingy and dark from the outside. But the windows were covered with posters for Superman and other comic-book and computer game heroes. Sebastian got out of the car and got really excited.
We went into the front, which was a dimly-lit corridor with a lot of geeky posters on the walls. At the far end was a doorway. And through the doorway was...magic.
Which, in this case, was a huge
room. It was dingy and old. And simply packed
with new and used video games, comic books, roleplaying games, books, and memorabilia. They had plush Mario and Luigi. They had Cthulhu stuff. GI Joes from when I was a kid. Beatles model kits. Every old comic book I ever used to read. All the Mongoose RuneQuest stuff (not that I'd ever buy any of that). And boxes and boxes of D&D materials. Most of the D&D books were $9.95 each, and all game materials - both new and used - were 15% off on top of that.
I was looking for 3.0 Forgotten Realms material. I'd bought a new 3.0 DMG earlier that day for $30, and now I was kicking myself, because they had copies in good condition for less than ten bucks here. But I picked up the Monster Manual
, Magic of Faerun
, and Defenders of the Faith
- that's the guidebook for clerics and paladins. I also picked up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
(which turned out to be a sucky game) for the Gamecube for Sebastian, and two Anita Blake comic books for Teri.
Then we had to leave, because my back was hurting and Sebastian really
wanted to buy a $200 GI Joe storm trooper carrier (okay, that wasn't really what it was called, but it was a big vehicle about four feet long and two feet wide) from around 1970; I had to explain what "fragile" meant to him as we took him out of the store. On the way out I also bought him an Itchy & Scratchy mini-mug from a gum-ball machine. He is now determined to own the whole set.
Sigh...it was just such an amazing
place. I didn't get to check out as much as a third of it; for example, I didn't get to see any of the books or graphic novels. The prices were very reasonable, and there was more cool stuff in a single place than I've seen anywhere, even in New York or at Arisia.
We'll have to go back when I have some more money to spend. Thank goodness Teri liked it...and of course, Sebastian was an instant fan.
It's geek heaven. It really is.