Game Store Fails: Hidden Cost of Gaming Tables

By |2018-10-09T07:11:20+00:00October 9th, 2018|Categories: Editorial, Game Store|

cosplay funny space marine wal hor

Have you ever wondered how much it costs for your LGS to keep that gaming table you play on so often? Let’s break down the hidden costs.

If you didn’t already know it, renting space costs money. It’s something that customers at their  Local Game Store (LGS) may be blissfully unaware of. Sure some people “do their part” and buy a paint pot or a pack of cards when they play, but is it enough to keep stores in business?

Well as you’re about to see, it may be hardly scratching the surface as far as covering play space costs for any store.

Game Store Fails: Hidden Cost of Gaming Tables

tables warhammer 40k

We’re going to start off talking about your standard 4×6 gaming table. But to do so we have to add in all space that the players use to walk around and set their stuff on as well.

If you’ve played Warhammer longer than thirty minutes, you’ll know that there’s a ton of players that go to LGSs with boxes on top of boxes of models. That takes up space.

Once the players finally get their game set up, they have to walk around and use an area outside of the table.

For argument’s sake, let’s make the total space used including the table, the luggage, and walking space 10×10 feet. Doing simple math, that comes out to be 100 Sq feet.

Now on average, game store owners can expect to pay about $13/sq ft in rent every year on their store’s space. And yes these numbers obviously fluctuate based on location, and foot traffic (like a Mall store etc) for sure.

At 100 sq fee, the monthly cost totals add up to be just over $100 a month. How’d we get there? Well, $13 a sq ft x 100 for the game table space equals $1300, then Divided by 12 months, and you get $108.

Here’s the kicker, how many LGSs do you know of that only have one gaming table? If a store has four tables, that may be at aleast $400/month on space alone.

Wargamers vs. Cardgamers

Magic the Gathering tournament

On average, you can fit about four to six people at a 3×6 gaming table, probably more on the four side judging by the picture above.

Looking at this example you can see that a 6×3 card table takes up literally half the square footage of a tabletop gaming table, and requires no effort to build and maintain terrain etc as well. Plus it accommodates at least twice as many players as our first example and thus can generate at least twice as much revenue.

Based on our math above the “rent” on a game table such as this is just a little over $50 a month, as well.  Imagine if you put eight card gamers at a table that size, its the same rent as the game tables above for twice the players.

Step 3… Profit?

Looking at it from a business standpoint, four or even six card gamers are more likely to buy more drinks and card packs (which have good margins and are sold in quantity) more frequently that than a pot of paint, or even a new model for their Warhammer army.

Sure stores sell pots of paint on the regular, there is no doubting that, and new models like the Knight Castellan sold like hotcakes in stores when they first came out. Notwithstanding any FAQs etc, months later new products just may not sell nearly as much as they did when they released.

Take a look at the breakdown on these products:

  • Paint pots: MSRP $4.25 Cost $2.33 Profit $1.92   45% markup 
  • Imperial Knight Castellan $170 Cost of product: $93.50 Profit: $76.50 45% Markup

Now compare them to something more “consumable”


  • Gaming Card packs: $4.00 Cost of box ~$75  Cost per pack $2.08 Profit: Full box per pack at full retail $69
  • Soda MSRP $1.00 Cost of soda from wholesalers around .33 profit .67 

I think we can all agree, for the most part, everyone who plays card games doesn’t mind shelling out $4 to for the chance of opening a $5-$20 card and making their money back. You’ve also got sodas and other drinks and snacks that stores sell all day long.

Everyone who spends their afternoon playing card games or even a tabletop game like Warhammer is going to get thirsty. Sodas are a goldmine for hobby stores. You can buy a 24-pack of sodas for just a couple of bucks if you grab them on sale somewhere, then charge $1 for each can? That’s $24 dollars made off of $4-ish dollars.

What does it all mean?

After breaking down those numbers above, there could be a strong argument for the notion of pay where you play.

Customers that make the majority of their purchases online, recast issues aside, but yet play in stores could be a part of the problem when it comes to hobby stores being forced to close their doors.

We’ve all heard someone say, oh well I always buy a pot of paint or a pack of cards when they are the game store right? Based on the numbers above, a store would have to sell about 50 pots of paint just to break even on the rent for ONE game table each month.

LED game table

While it’s a noble effort to come in and buy a pack of cards here and there or a paint/ soda etc, in this day and age it may not be nearly enough.

At the end of the day, for most healthy well-stocked games stores in larger markets, everything balances out between the multiple small purchases (paints and card packs) and large purchases (tabletop minis, full boxes of trading cards and Box Sets of models).

By now, hopefully, you’ve noticed more of the hidden costs that come with running a store, and it’s not getting any easier for them these days either.

What do you think about the business expenses of hobby shops? How many gaming tables does your LGS have?

Let us know in the comments of our Facebook Hobby Group.

Spikey Bits Latest

Latest Long War Podcast - Listen NOW!

About the Author:

Virginia Restless, Miniature Painter & Single Father to 3 Cats. I blame LEGOs. There was something about those little-colored blocks that started it all... Twitter @catdaddymbg