Friday, May 13, 2011

Your Friendly Local Game Shop: The Rusty Scabbard

I believe there is a strong community of folks in the gaming and comic book world that needs to be cultivated. Your Friendly Local Game Shop (or Your Friendly Local Comic Shop) will provide a way for me to highlight such places and give an in-depth review of the store based on the following criteria:
  • Initial Impressions 
  • Customer Service 
  • Atmosphere 
  • Selection 
  • Value 
  • Online Experience 
  • Overall Score 
Join me as I venture to these meccas of geekdom.

820 Lane Allen Rd (Garden Springs Shopping Center)
Lexington KY 40504

Hours: M - Sat 11 am - 9 pm
Sun 1 pm - 6pm

I have been a customer of The Rusty Scabbard for four years. My first set of dice came from there – a Christmas present from my best friend to get me into the spirit of gaming – and I have had many enjoyable experiences shopping there. I have spent countless occasions looking for the perfect set of dice or the miniature that so closely resembles what I envision a character to look like. It, for many years, has been the preeminent gaming store in Lexington. I ask that you let my review speak for not only my experience, but that of others as well.

Initial Impressions: 2/5
The store's décor reminds you of a role-player's basement from the 80s. It's dark, dingy, musty and not very inviting. We were greeted rather suspiciously by a female employee and the staff member agreed (very relucantly) to let us look around. The Scabbard has been in business since 1982 and have spent the last fifteen years at their current location. The posters and advertisements for games such as Warhammer are faded from exposure to sunlight and quite dated.

Atmosphere: 1/5
The lighting is dim and doesn't highlight the products very well, creating a dark mood. There were a few people at table in the front of the store and they seemed deep in game. A few more were in a large room to the back. It was nice to actually see people there, many time I have entered what seemed like a ghost town. The staff member I talked to said that the store was founded for gamers, by gamers with a mission “to make them [gamers] happy.” She said that they want people to enjoy themselves, bring their friends and have a good time. I didn't get a sense of that, however, when I was at the store. Frankly, the mood was fairly depressing.

Customer Service: 1/5

While there are several people I have encountered recently in visting the Scabbard, only one has seemed genuine in asking me if there is anything I need. Others have seemed like assisting you is a chore. Maybe it's just helping you in person, because when I called and spoke with the same female employee for a price check a day after visiting, she was reasonably friendly. She wasn't able to immediately discern my needs, but once she understood what product I was looking for, she was nice enough.

However, the biggest issue that I have with their customer service at this point is their special order policy. While the staff member that I spoke with upon my last visit assured me that they place special orders, their biggest problem is actually contacting the customers to let them know that their dice have arrived. Two close friends have placed special orders within the last year, of the two, we are only aware of one set of dice that arrived at the store, and that is because we saw them for sale as general merchandise. I am appalled at the fact that they have completely dropped the ball in the customer service arena.

Selection: 4/5
If there is one thing that can be said about the Rusty Scabbard is that it is a tried and true gaming store. They an extensive selection of RPGS, board games, card games, war games and gaming supplies in stock. They carry titles such as Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Warhammer 40,000, Munchkin, Call of Cthulhu, Dominion and Game of Thrones. There is a large supply of miniatures which is quite impressive and hobby items are for sale as well. There aren't many opportunities to take a game out of a box and try it, however. The open games that they have actually belong to a weekly board-gaming group and you have to ask for permission. It would be nice if they had more open board-gaming.

Value: 5/5
Their prices are fair. It is a small, independently owned store and their prices are comparable to other stores as well as MSRP.

Online Experience: 3/5
Their website has said “Rusty Scabbard Coming Soon” for as long as I can remember. They do all of their marketing through Facebook and route their feed through Twitter. I would suggest opening up their website or putting more inventory details on their Facebook page.

Overall Score 2.6/5
As I said before, I have been a customer of the Rusty Scabbard for four years. It was a happening place, then, people gamed there all the time and it was the gaming store in Lexington. I am not the only person who has taken issue with the downgrade in the quality of service and lack of vibrancy in the store. The store could feel so much better if they changed the décor or ripped up the dusty, grimy carpets. One would think that like a fine wine, the store would have gotten better with age, but it is sadly no longer the “Friendly Local Game Shop” it once was.
As a long time customer, I am disappointed in the lack of professionalism the Rusty Scabbard has been showing lately. I recently placed a special order and never received any follow up or notice that the item was in. This has happened to others I know so when I went in to the store, the item I ordered was available in the general merchandise. Even more than a customer let down is the negative atmosphere; the female employee will not allow you to browse on your own without her watchful eye; and it isn't a helpful hovering. It's sad to see the state of the business decline but they are bringing on the negativity through their own service or rather...the lack thereof. ~ Leila M, Lexington

Have you been to The Rusty Scabbard? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

View my other images of the store on Flickr.

Check out my last installment of Your Friendly Local Game Shop here.


  1. This sounds like most game shops I've been in. Game stores don't tend to really focus on decor or pagentry but are more like a 15 year old gamers room with random game posters all over the place. Most the stores i've been too don't have charismatic staff which isn't shocking since most of them are staffed with gamers and or the owner + friends.

    That said, I wouldn't expect much else. As long as the staff knows about the games or at least the comics I'm good.

    Articles on MTG, Comics, Movies, Gaming and more -

  2. You're right, however there are those of us who care about that sort of thing. I've worked in retail and I understand that updated signage works. If a customer doesn't feel engaged in a store, then they are not likely to return. My biggest issue with the Scabbard is their lack of customer service.

  3. I enjoyed reading your post so I thought I'd stop by and leave a few words.

    I've been largely away from the hobby for 20 years and really just getting back into it now. In my experience, the whole "gaming store experience" can be really hit or miss.

    Atmosphere can be a tough one. I think most proprietors are usually running by the skin of their teeth so it's hard for them to have a great location or enough overhead to have a really great decor.

    Selection & Value are tough categories as well. I guess that the best that can be hoped for is an owner who is familiar with the gaming community of their area. I have lived in towns where I could find everything that I wanted, as well as those where nothing but the largest commercial titles were available.

    Customer Service, is the dealbreaker for me. Sadly, I've seen situtations like the store in your review all too often. It's ironic because I think that the gaming community as a whole has always been a very warm and inviting bunch. Unfortunately, I've found that it's not uncommon for gaming store employees to feel a sense of superiority over their customers.

    For instance, in my day to day life, I probably don't look like the "stereotypical gamer". I have often walked into a store to where I experieced something like a scene out of a western (where the hero walks into the bar and everyone stares at him like "what the hell is he doing here?"). That's not very inviting. I have known many female gamers who have had similar problems.

    Owners of gaming stores would really benefit from pushing the customer service issue with their employees. Even more than in other types of retail, I think that engaging emplyees would really help increase return customers and store loyalty.

    Good Gaming.

  4. Sorry to hear that the atmosphere is so bad. If these game stores want to counter the growing online market, they really need to focus on customer service and the in-store experience.