Destination Venus is a comic shop. That's our core. That's our passion. But we're reasonably well rounded human beings, and even we like to try other things from time to time. So, when we got a phone call from Nottingham a couple of weeks ago, we took the first steps on a new path.
On the other end of the line was Jo, a nice lady from Games Workshop, purveyors of all manner of tabletop gaming goodness since 1974.
She explained that Games Workshop was interested in getting their products into comic stores, figuring that there was probably some overlap between comics readers and tabletop gamers.* Was I interested in stocking their products?
Well. That was a question, wasn't it? I mean, the short answer was "Yes." But the longer answer was "Yes, but we're not really experts and not only do we have our friends at Horde Games a little way down the road in Starbeck, but there's an actual Games Workshop store less than a hundred yards from my door!"
This, I was assured was not a problem. Essentially Jo's view was that there was that the market was big enough for everyone. I was slightly less than convinced, but they seemed determined to send me some fee samples, so who was I to argue? We like free stuff**...
So. The free stuff arrived, I took it home, assembled a couple of figures and almost immediately regressed back into sixteen year old me. I've not played a tabletop RPG since I was a teenager, but back then I loved me some Warhammer 40,000, and Dungeons & Dragons. So in the end, I didn't make a considered, rational, business decision. I mean, crunching the numbers, if these products really do sell they could be a great help in keeping Desties afloat in these turbulent retail waters - and of course, that was something I considered.
But if I'm honest, the decision was, in the end, largely emotional. There's just something about those little figures. About the massive storytelling potential that is held within the rules and the backstory of the various worlds. Reading through the rules and assembling those figures I remembered the sense of excitement me and my mates had back in the day as the story of our characters developed, never entirely under our control as the game progressed and the dice were rolled.
It was something I'd forgotten, but in the end, tabletop games are all about storytelling - they're a powerful stimulant for the imagination because you don't have control of your characters. You have to react to the decisions of other players, and so the pure chance that is dictated by the roll of the dice.
So what you get, at the end of it, is a powerfully interactive experience that you have no way of predicting, but that still creates a story. And stories are pretty much about at Destination Venus.
So. We are now stockists of Games Workshop products. We're not out to compete with the official store, or with Horde Games - because however much my love of the game has been rekindled, they have infinitely more experience than I do. But there are times when we're open and they're not, so if you're in need of the odd pot of paint, or brushes, or sprue cutters, we can help.
Beyond that, we want to serve mainly as an entry point to this spectacular hobby. We have everything you need to get started. If you get hooked and want to pursue the hobby in earnest, then our friends across the bridge at the Warhammer shop, or our friends at Horde should be your next port of call - although we'll be there too if you need supplies.
So. What's next? What other non-comics but still Geek related stuff are we going to bring in?
Well, that's a good question. Historically we don't do all that well with Merch - although I fully accept that this might well be because we're stocking the wrong kind of Merch - so we're open to suggestion. We've already had requests for Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh cards, which we're investigating, but what else?
Is there interest out there in other RPGs?*** If so, which ones?
*And of course there is...
**It's a weakness of ours. "Free" is our very favourite price. Especially if the word "Free" is followed by the words "Booze", "Food" or "Ferrari".
***By which we mean "Role Playing Games". If you're after Rocket Propelled Grenades you're surfing the wrong bit of the internet...