Vacationing away from Southern Arizona, I find myself in Minneapolis during what I am told is an "unseasonably warm" week in January, which means that water is frozen into ice, but Nitrogen has not liquefied yet. I still need to bundle up, but apparently not as much as if I were at an Arctic station.
I drove by a gaming store here last night, and decided that, since it's within walking distance, I'd pay it a visit this morning and see what the local gaming vibe was like. Turns out they're not open until 2 p.m. That may itself be a sign that the gaming economy here doesn't support a full-time store. Of course, I've always wondered how furniture stores stayed open when everyone else was at work or in school, so my understanding of retail economics is sketchy at best.
I did take a peek in the window to see what I could; the first thing I saw was a White Dwarf display rack. The next thing I saw was a pegboard full of Warhammer minis. In fact, it seemed like most of the floor space was turned over to miniature-based sci-fi wargaming. In the back, barely lit by the reflected sunlight in the window, was a Dungeons and Dragons display rack. I wondered if there weren't some other games behind that, but I saw no identifiable logos. No White Wolf, no Pathfinder.
But speaking of gaming economy, I do know that a smart retailer apportions floorspace according to the most profitable merchandise, and it isn't really a surprise that miniatures are more profitable than rulebooks. After all, you can get by with only one set per 1-5 people, and with pdfs--not exactly a retail-friendly product--you can get by even without those. But you need bunches of minis to play W40K or other wargames, and there isn't yet a good digital substitute for them.
Still, I plan to visit them again soon, during business hours, and see what tabletop RPG goodness they might have. I'm hoping that, at the very least, it isn't the generic D&D plus White Wolf...I'm hoping that it has a touch of local flavor. After all, we're not that far from Wisconsin and Illinois, where the hobby was born.