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Tips to Help Shop Owners Welcome New Players to Organized Play

This is the 4th and final in a series written from the perspective of a brand new D&D player. The articles are written with tips and thoughts for DMs, organizers, and shop owners who hope to welcome more new players like me to the fun of D&D Organized Play. Previous posts focused on organizers or DMs  so today our attention goes to store owners.

Week after week our D&D Adventures League group use the space provided by our local game shop. Thankfully, we’re a tidy group and I don’t recall any spills, but the group is growing, so the wear and tear on the tables, chairs, and bathrooms(!) add up.

My momma raised me right, so I feel a responsibility to give back a little something in response to someone else’s hospitality. I don’t bring a bottle of wine to every gaming session like I’m bringing a house warming gift to a dinner party (although there is a guy at table #2 that seems like he would LOVE a bottle of wine), but I do want to support the local shop in some way.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t been as easy as you think it would be, so I’ll share a few words for shop owners out there.

Image courtesy of Lauren Bilanko

Image courtesy of Lauren Bilanko

First, stock the merchandise. I’m brand new to D&D and I couldn’t be more excited about it. As a result, I’m absolutely itching to buy stuff. I bought the new spell cards on a whim and would’ve bought a deck for another character if they would’ve been in stock. Likewise with the boosters for the new Tyranny of Dragons miniatures. I bought one, but likely would have bought another if there was one of the shelf to be had.

There are 20+ D&D players in the shop week after week, so please stock a full line of merchandise. If you want to go above and beyond, make a simple flyer that tells us whats available and have them on the gaming tables for when players show up. This money is burning a hole in my pocket, help me spend it.

Image courtesy of FJ Rebolledo

Image courtesy of FJ Rebolledo

Second, go a step further and incentivize it by making it fun. I heard tales of one shop giving out little tickets good for a re-roll to every player who spent at least $5 in the store that night. I would welcome a roll at advantage if an encounter is going badly!

While it doesn’t have to be the idea of a re-roll ticket, the principle stands: do a little something creative to get my attention and help me associate my fun D&D experience with the store. Not only do sales go up, but implicit in the action is a feeling that the store is excited we are there and want to make it fun for us.

Finally, get out from behind the counter every once in a while. I’ve never once been greeted by a store employee as I entered the store, even though I’ve been a regular for the past several Wednesdays.

It’s actually kind of annoying when the manager of a restaurant comes to the table to ask you ‘how your dining experience is this evening’, because, without fail, they catch you with your mouth full of food. That said, I fully appreciate the sentiment. Shop owners, please take a couple minutes to come out from behind the counter and just peek at the action. If you can, introduce yourself to the players and thank them for coming. Please expect the same out of your employees as well.

This past Wednesday the store owner came by mid-session with a beat up cardboard box that was full of Twizzlers and Sweet-tarts. It wasn’t fancy at all, but when he passed that around the tables of players, the $3 investment was seen as a welcome sign of appreciation by the players. It was a small thing, but it mattered.

All that said, I want to close with this. Thank you, shop owners, for creating a space where brand new D&D players can gather to make new friends, slay evil beasts, create interesting characters, and have loads of adventures.

Clave Jones

By day Clave runs the Innové Project, which seeks to make the world a better place. By evening he runs Nerds on Earth, which seeks to make the world a little nerdier. Clave was recently drawn back to D&D after a 20 year hiatus.

Author: Clave Jones

By day Clave runs the Innové Project, which seeks to make the world a better place. By evening he runs Nerds on Earth, which seeks to make the world a little nerdier. Clave was recently drawn back to D&D after a 20 year hiatus.

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