Hey everyone, it’s been a while since the last update, for which I apologise. Unfortunately, there’s a pretty sad reason for today’s post, as my favourite hobby store, FRABuSEL, will be closing its doors come the end of the month. So I’d like the opportunity to talk about the store a bit and share some memories of the last couple of years. Let this serve as a heartfelt eulogy to my favourite FLGS:
I only really found out about FRABuSEL’s fate last week, when I swung by the store to pick up a pot of paint or two: I was faced with half-empty shelves and a jumble of moving boxes. And sure enough, Carsten – the owner – confirmed my suspicions: Due to the recent lack of sales, and especially due to the lack of new customers, running the store had turned out to no longer be economically viable. Now you can probably imagine that this came as a bit of a shock to me: I had been purchasing virtually all of my hobby products (with the exception of some specific bitz purchases) at the store for the last couple of years (and at FRABuSEL’s predecessor store Spieltraum for more than a decade beforehand), and most of my armies and warbands consist of models purchased at the store:
And for a good reason, because FRABuSEL wasn’t merely the closest and most convenient location to pick up new plastic crack, but also a teriffic store in its own right: Carsten ran a great business and was always quick with good advice or a fair discount. What’s more, as is a sign of all the best hobby stores, FRABuSEL was also a venue for all kinds of events and friendly games, and while I am not a huge gamer myself, Khorne’s Eternal Hunt did see quite a few outings against its enemies on the tables provided by the store, and some of those games remain among my favourite tabletop moments (such as that one time I wiped the table with my cousin’s Dark Eldar and then let victory elude my grasp because I actually played too much like a World Eater).
It helped that the business side of things was excellent as well, of course: Carsten stocked a lot of products that would otherwise have been a bit of a hassle to get hold of (ranging from a wide range of Vallejo colours to all kinds of OOP GW metal models). And whenever the internet erupted in cries of misery due to a newly released model or boxed set selling out about 3.5 minutes after first becoming available, I could rest easy in the knowledge that a copy of it would be waiting at FRABuSEL for me the coming week, should I wish to pick it up. And whenever I read about more and more hobby stores around the world closing their doors, I was happy to know that my own FLGS was still around — and hopefully would remain so for a long time to come!
Only now it won’t be around any longer, and that really sucks! It makes picking up new hobby supplies more complicated (and much less personal), but that’s only the smallest part of the problem , obviously. It also means one less place for getting in touch with other hobbyists, sharing friendly banter and advice, and for immersing myself in this particular part of hobby culture.
Granted, this is certainly only a part of much bigger developments, with more and more specialist and special interest stores going out of business, while people primarily buy online. But while the internet has done lots of good for our hobby, providing forums, blogs and communities that foster communication and the exchange of ideas and hobby projects, it has also been doing a hell of a number on the brick and mortar stores that have been real hearthfires, so to speak, for hobbyists for years and years. The same is obviously true for all kinds of smaller, owner-managed stores, as more and more of them drop out of the race at. And maybe that’s just the way of the world. But its’s a bad way, and it leaves all our cities looking exactly the same, with just the same five big store chains endlessly arranging and re-arranging their respective stores in slightly different configurations.
But back to this particular story: I dropped by the store one last time last Friday, and dug through the packing crates with models in order to score some final deals. It did feel like helping to pick clean the bones of a former pet, to be honest, even after Carsten repeatedly assured me that every sale helped. But yeah, it wasn’t a particularly happy day, for obvious reasons.
So here’s to FRABuSEL, my favourite FLGS, and the store that launched a thousand armies (three or four in my case alone, actually)! And here’s to Carsten, who was always a pillar of the community, and to whom I wish all the best from the bottom of my heart!
So if you have any brick and mortar stores in your vincinity that you like, please make sure to spend some money there as soon as possible, lest they share the same fate — that 20% discount online may seem tempting now, but those guys at the big online sellers are not going to provide any tables for you to play on, and neither will they remember you when someone brings in a huge box of odds and ends and allow you to dig through it at your leisure — just sayin’…
In spite of everything, I would like to wrap up this somewhat sad post on a slightly uplifting note, and maybe I have just the thing for that: In addition to the stuff I purchased during my last two visits, Carsten also gave me a Space Wolves model he had assembled himself as a small gift. And the least I could do was to give this poor straggler a new home. So I just made a few small tweaks…
…and now Kharrsten Bloodhowl, the Death-Dealer, stands ready to join my next batch of traitorous Space Wolves and ultimately become a part of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt:
It’s a very small gesture, to be sure, but one that at least seems like a neat little tribute to me 😉
So thanks again to Carsten for running an amazing store over these last years! And, as always, thanks to your for looking! Stay tuned for more!