Friendly Local Game Stores (FLGS) and Comic Stores
In 2011 a daring young Masters student embarked upon an epic quest to visit, quantify and interview 51 comic and game stores in the Greater Toronto Area
Here are some of his findings:
The 7 Store Types
Cluster 1 - Comic Focussed - 7 stores
These stores carry a narrow array of products. They are heavily focussed on comics, graphic novels, and manga. They might have a small selection of toys and collectibles and a few CCG booster packs. They have extensive back-issues many of which may be in their onsite storage space. Pull lists form the core of their business. As they do not really carry gaming products they do not have gaming space. Barring one exception they are all located in downtown strip or strip malls. Two opened in 1978, with the most recent store opening in 1998. Competition is fiercest with cluster 7 (comic store) and cluster 6 (Diverse Store).
Cluster 2 - Gaming Store - 5 stores
These stores carry significant collections of RPGs, CCGs, Boardgames and Miniatures. They all have large gaming space and hold events for gamers to come play at the store. All are located in strips. Only one opened before 2004. They do not carry any comics. They compete on the most front with cluster 6 (Diverse Store), and strongly with cluster 4 (Miniature Wargames Store) and cluster 5 (The Card Gaming Shop), and to a lesser extent with cluster 3 (Gift and Games).
Cluster 3 - Gift and Games - 4 stores
These stores are located in malls and carry models, toys and other collectables and board games. They may have a token selection of miniatures, RPGs, or graphic novels. They are more children oriented than most other stores. The Mind Games chain is a part of this cluster. They do not have game space and compete with cluster 2 and 6. They assumed their current characteristics in the 2000s (most opened in this period) along with the emergence of the Euroboardgames. These stores are the closest to ‘toy stores’ and should be cautious of nearby competition from such stores.
Cluster 4 - Miniature Wargames Store - 6 stores
These stores are devoted almost exclusively to miniature wargaming. They all have moderately sized gaming space except for one which does not currently operate any. The Games Workshop chain is a part of this cluster. They compete with cluster 2 (Gaming Store). They mostly opened in the mid-to late 90s. The outlier in this cluster (Crossed Swords) is fairly close to being a full Gaming Store.
Cluster 5 - The Card Gaming Shop - 6 stores
These stores are centered on collectable card games and to a lesser extent sports cards. They sell a wide array of singles and most have gaming space with regular events. These stores utilize community building tools. They compete chiefly with cluster 2. These stores first opened or introduced cards to their store in the early 1990s (CCG were created in 1993), and there has been a fairly steady opening of stores since.
Cluster 6 - The Diverse Store - 11 stores
These stores carry a wide and substantial array of products. Four have a large gaming area. These stores carry almost every one of the 11 product types. As such they compete with almost all other stores, although their miniatures section is relatively weak. It contains 4 of the 10 79 largest stores. Their opening years span the entire period and several have evolved from stores focussed on comics into the general hobby stores they are now. Seven of these stores have an online shop.
Cluster 7 - The Comic Store - 12 stores
In many ways similar to the Comic Focussed store (cluster 1), The Comic Store carries comics, back-issues, graphic novels, and manga but also has a moderate presence in some gaming products. These are most often CCGs, toys and collectibles, and boardgames. They may have a few miniature figures or RPG books. Selection in any of these later products tends to be quiet limited, but the store will often be willing to order in these types of products. Most of these stores opened in the 90's. Wednesday is always their busiest day. They compete most strongly with cluster 1 and 6, and moderately with cluster 5 and 2.