Sometimes coolness is right under your nose and you don't even know it. Noble Knight Games, in Janesville, WI, is about a half hour south of me. Since I had a fairly lengthy hiatus from gaming right after graduate school, I didn't learn about the shop until a few years ago. I've been meaning to get down there forever, but, you know, it's really easy to just order stuff online.
This is the end of my summer vacation. After traveling out west for a week, I had one extra day in case we ran into any difficulties on the way back. Thankfully, nothing untoward happened, and so I thought to myself: "Self: You need to get down to Noble Knight Games and check it out." And I did.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I had business to attend to down there. My novel, Heraclix & Pomp, will be released in October, and I wanted to get down there to give them an Advanced Reading Copy of the book to see if they'd be interested in carrying it. I spoke on the phone with the manager, Rick, who said, essentially, "no promises, but sure, bring it on down". Now I had the impetus and an excuse.
So I drove down, got lost (yeah, in Janesville, I know - I have a penchant for getting lost. It's a gift.), and finally found myself there. Seemed like a pretty big building for a gaming store, compared to other gaming stores I've been in.
As I walked in I stood face-to-face with a suit of platemail which was, thankfully, empty. He had a longsword, I had my keychain pocketknife. Not fair!
After recovering from the shock of seeing a full suit of armor in the entryway, I had two doors to choose from, one right, one left. Like the bungling adventurer I am, I chose the right door, which ended up being the wrong door. If I would have looked, I would have seen cardboard boxes piled up against the right door. I'll never be a good rogue walking into traps like that, I thought. Must be their storeroom.
So I went through the left door . . . and was surprised by how small the footprint was. Granted, they had as much or more out as any other gaming store. But there isn't any game space, which I've grown accustomed to with gaming stores. Not that this is a weakness, mind you - I prefer gaming at home over gaming in a shop. But they had a lot packed into a small space. I had explored Noble Knight's online presence and was aware that they had a lot of used games, minis, etc, but I didn't see a lot of that. Most of the games I saw out were new, with a couple of notable exceptions (like the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Grindhouse Edition box set that stared me in the face).
I was introduced into the office of the manager, Rick, who was gracious and professional. He took the proffered copy of Heraclix & Pomp, then asked that I be sure to remind him about it when it is published. We then chatted a bit about business (something I know a little about), ROI, inventory management, that sort of thing. And then he shocked me by taking me behind the scenes to see that what I thought was a storeroom was actually an entire warehouse filled with games.
You've never seen so many games in one place.
And that was only one of the warehouses. There was another one down the road that was even bigger.
Rick took me on a little tour of the warehouse attached to the brick and mortar store. There were aisles and aisles of games available. I saw a boxed set Azhanti High Lightning right next to a boxed set Fifth Frontier War for Traveller. I can't tell you how many year's it's been since I've seen Azhanti High Lightning. I almost cried. I also spotted a boxed set of Striker, Gamma World modules, and a smattering of other goodies as we quickly passed through. If I were allowed to loiter, you would find me as a skeleton somewhere in the stacks several months from now. But I knew I was on Rick's timeline, and he had a job to do, so I moved through quickly.
After being stunned by this, he then took me into the backroom to the backroom, which is where all the unsorted games were. There has to be thousands, nay, tens of thousands, of books, boxes, and blister packs in there. He frankly doesn't have time to sort it all. In the first aisle, a couple of things popped out at me. Remember Squad Leader? There were at least three copies within five feet of each other. And I saw the excellent Avalon Hill boardgame of Starship Troopers, which I had played with friends around 30 years ago. The memories just started flooding in.
And that was all from just standing at the corner of the unsorted warehouse. The aisles had to go back 60', and I forget how many there were, maybe ten or so? It was immense. No wonder Rick's behind on sorting.
I thanked Rick for the tour and proceeded to their web-kiosk to pick up a couple of figures for a Weird Western thingy I've been thinking about for a while. I picked up a formless Cthulhoid nasty and wanted to get the Boot Hill six-shooter figures they had, but they were at the other warehouse and the other warehouse employees had already left for the day. So the guy at the desk said he'd have them shipped to me . . . at no extra charge.
You're kidding me, right?
That is what I call customer service! I'm impressed. I'm hooked. I'm all in. Noble Knight Games absolutely rocked my world.
Kudos, guys. You freaking rock!