Wednesday, February 12, 2014

[D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop] Day Twelve


First store where you bought your gaming supplies. Does it still exist?

This question really touches on Where It All Started for me. I've written previously about how I ended up with the Mentzer Expert Set first. After my family moved from California back to New Mexico, I decided I wanted to take the plunge on D&D. We were living in Santa Fe, and a quick consult with the Yellow Pages revealed that the closest game store was in Albuquerque, an hour south.

The next time we headed down there to visit family friends, I managed to finagle a trip to that store, which was called Wargames West. (I still remember that my dad couldn't find the store for some reason, and we drove up and down Central Avenue until he finally had to stop at a K-Mart and ask to use their courtesy phone so he could call Wargames West and get a cross-street. Ah, the days before smart phones!)

My first visit to Wargames West is branded into my brain. It was truly a wonderland of RPGs and miniatures, and I knew I had found my Mecca. I asked the clerk where the D&D Basic Sets were, and he pointed to a low shelf, sort of out of the way. Being 12 years old, I didn't realize that stores don't exactly shelve popular products in this fashion; it was early 1990 (best I can recall), and the BECMI line was just about at the end of its run.

No matter. The Basic Set was everything I'd hoped for, and suddenly the secrets of the Expert Set were unlocked to me as well. Even better, I'd signed up to be on the mailing list for the Wargames West catalog, which I've specifically written about elsewhere.

Even though I soon found out that my local Hastings sold gaming products, I would tag along with my dad whenever he'd go down to Albuquerque just so I could get in a visit at my "local" game store. We returned to California the following year (there to stay for another 20 years in my case), but I had the catalog forwarded to our new address and kept ordering from Wargames West whenever I could.

Eventually, the store, which had also been one of the biggest game distributors in the country, went under, the victim of "market forces." Its old owners still run a game store in Albuquerque, and I'm once again back in Santa Fe, but I don't visit very often. It just isn't the same.
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