When I worked at WotC, I usually went to the nearest game store, Wonderworld in scenic Burien, every Wednesday. It was right down the street from an Australian Meat Pie shop, so it was easy to check out the latest game releases and grab a meat pie or two. I bought something almost every week, as did many of my cohorts. I usually went with a posse of graphic designers, which was quite entertaining. They were the snarkiest bitches imaginable and I say that with love. Watching them stand around the new release section picking apart the graphic design gaffes of the competition was a spectacle to behold. Since leaving WotC, I don’t get down to Wonderworld very often, as it’s not exactly close to where I live. Yesterday afternoon, Rick and I drove down there to see what was new.
Now Wonderworld is what you’d call a “destination store”. It has huge amounts of product going back two decades. If you like games or comics, there’s a lot to delve into. And I do mean delve, because there is so much backstock that it’s literally piled up throughout the store, with action figures sitting atop boxes of comic back issues stacked three high, game backstock boxes nearly obscuring the miniatures cases, and anime DVD sets riding on TCG displays behind the counter. I must admit I have never understood the hows and whys of their ordering system. They obviously like to stock in depth, but it always looked like this philosophy went out of control. I think they must have two full bookcases of d20 products from a single publisher. You see row upon row of $35 hardbacks, with 6 of each title sealed in plastic bags. You’d think it would have been clear at a certain point that the stuff wasn’t selling, but it seems the ordering continued.
It was thus not a huge surprise to hear that the store is closing. They may open a smaller storefront or they may just start selling through their stock on Ebay or some other type of e-store. It sounded like the latter is more likely. The current location is open all this month and then closing in January. As Rick and I were sitting in the meat pie shop, I realized this was likely the last time we’d do the game store/meat pie twofer. It’s the end of an era and another in the long line of game store closings that have been plaguing the industry the last couple of years. I hope Wonderworld can reinvent itself in the new retail environment.