Faeit 212 (usually a source of good rumors and intel) reports that Battle Bunkers are a thing of the past and I can not say that I am shocked at all. There are many reasons that Battle bunkers are a bad idea but here are my top 5:
1. A retail game store that sells only one type of product in a subspeciality is doomed.
It is hard to make a game store work. You have to cater to a lot of varied interests in order just keep your head above water. If you are just a mini wargaming store that makes it orders of magnitude harder. If you are just selling one game in that sup-category, you are digging a giant pit to throw money into. Money that my hobby has to suppost as the Battle Bunkers draw the money to operate from GW and GW gets its money from my pocket. In escence I am supporting the Battle Bunker regardless of where I buy my TMM, but I would rater have sanely-priced minis rather than be forced to keep 3 or 4 of these money pits open around the world
2. The type of employee that succeeds there is not the best for the job.
When I first moved near a Battle Bunker in 2010, it was staffed by a jerkbag or two but for the most part the employees were artists that took a lot of pride in their work. Every time I visited the store, I would learn or teach a new painting or modeling trick.
Over the last year especially, the staff of the store has really switched from a friendly environment of artists to one of pushy and careless jerkbags. The conversations are woefully transparent. I've ranted before about how rude and insensitive the black shirts at the Seattle Battle Bunker can be but it seems to get worse every time I go. I stopped in for paint one day last week and actually had to tell the Black Shirt to shut up and let me pick out some paint. Every time I come in they go through their script from "What are you working on?" to "You should come and play in our terminate!" I get tired of telling them the same answers every time. A FLGS operator would give you space to browse without being so friggen pushy.
3. The consistently receding wave of incentives to visit the store.
When they cancelled the paint bar, I said nothing. when they stopped running events worth a damn, I said nothing. Then they came for my minis and there was no one left. There is just no reason to walk through those doors anymore. The tables are nice but there are nice tables all over. Yes it is easy to fine players and games, but if you have any social skills, it is easy to find pick up games almost anywhere. There is just nothing that makes the BB special or really worth keeping around.
Why Pay Retail? It is easy as pie to get 20% off and cheap shipping on the internet. GW often lets companies ship so that you get your products on or before release day (though they are getting wise to that now. Even FLGS will give you 10%-255 off as a loyalty bonus for ordering through them or buying in store and then you are supporting local business rather than putting more money in the pocket of GW or commission in a Black Shirt's black pocket.
If you are kind of a jerk but you spend time and money in the store, no black shirt is going to tell you shove off. You have to be really caustic for a GW employee to toss you out. That means that the store is overrun with social retards and screaming kids.
What GW does not realize is that this All Swim attitude, chases out classy gamers that don't want sticky kids panhandling for bits (actually happened to me) or people with obvious mental issues being creepy and weird.
Really GW should take a leaf out of Privateer Press' book and support their local game stores rather than try to keep their own retail spaces open. With the money they spend keeping these money pits open, they could bring back Rogue Trader Tournaments, give better prize support, organize more conventions and smaller events, etc. they could even mooch the Press Ganger idea from PP too. there are people that would spend their day in gaming stores talking about games and getting other people interested in playing and most importantly buying games.
We call them gamers.
Maybe they would not push the new paints or new shiny minis, but they are going to talk to gamers like people rather than greasy sales people like Black Shirts. In the end I think that would be a better and more productive tac.