Random Encounter – New Bookstore

26 Sep

Greetings programs!

Blogging time has been scarce this week, but I’m still here.

Let’s talk about bookstores!

Good bookstores have become disturbingly hard to find and even the big chain stores are getting scarce. Matters are worse for me, as we haven’t had a good bookstore in my town for 20 years.

In a university town. How does that happen?!

So I’m always happy to explore a new bookstore. When I find one that excites me I make sure to share the wealth.

Such is the case with 2nd & Charles.

Tucked away in a residential corner of Dayton, Ohio is a quirky old mall called the Town and Country Shopping Center. It’s an odd location that looks like they took an upscale strip mall and covered the front, creating an atrium and making it a pseudo-indoor mall. One of the downsides to this design is that the stores have very little visibility from the outside. I’m an infrequent visitor to the area and I didn’t know there was a bookstore in the mall, until I happened to drive around behind the building and saw its rear entrance. This was a while ago but I didn’t have time to investigate the store until yesterday.

I was very glad I did. My wallet, not so much.

2nd & Charles offers an eclectic mix of treasures. It sells both new and used items that include books, magazines, comics and graphic novels, music, collectibles, toys, new and vintage game systems, and just about any other fandom-related thing they can get their hands on.

The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and the geek is strong with them. I felt right at home. The store is larger than I expected, neat, and well organized. Best of all, it’s full of product. Some stores have a disturbingly small selection despite having plenty of shelf space. Not so here and they make good use of their space without crossing the line into cluttered.

Their supply of gaming materials isn’t large, but it is interesting. Among a few obligatory Pathfinder books I found other items such as 1st edition AD&D hardbacks, a few Rifts books, a smattering of 1st edition Vampire books, and a few more exotic games from the 80’s and early 90’s. Many of these had clearly come from people’s collections, with some wear showing on the covers and occasional margin notes. One book still had several character sheets sticking out of it. It’s obvious the staff saw them when shelving and decided to leave them with the book.

They understand the appeal. They are of our geekish tribe.

They even had a boxed set of MERP, Middle Earth Role Playing, from Iron Crown Enterprises. MERP was a big deal back in the 80’s, being both the official Tolkien role playing game and a stripped down version of I.C.E.’s Rolemaster RPG. Their sourcebooks were excellent and their artwork was always top notch. The box was in good condition and reasonably priced, so it nearly came home with me. If it’s still there next time that may change.

I was particularly pleased with a display of vintage board games. The sign said, “Kids, this is real retro-gaming. All analog!” The games on display included several true classics, such as Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and the old Avalon Hill Starship Troopers bookcase game.

In the end I spent slightly more than I should have and much less than I wanted to. Woe be unto my bank account if my next visit is closer to payday.

2nd & Charles turns out to be a modest-sized chain, with 23 locations nationwide. If you happen to have one near you, check it out. If the Dayton store is any indication you won’t be disappointed.

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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Books and Comics, Reviews


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3 responses to “Random Encounter – New Bookstore

  1. mikemonaco

    September 26, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    Cool. I feel your pain re bookstores. There is an ok used bookstore in a nearby university town, and the obligatory “Half Price Thieves” here and there, but I do miss having a choice book stores.

    The boxed MERP set gave me countless hours of fun. My brother had it and ran it more than Rolemaster or even AD&D after we got it. Sadly, it was ruined when his apartment was flooded by a swimming pool leak. The landlord was a real prick about honoring claims, but eventually their insurance replaced it with the only available substitute — the new MERP hardback (this was early 1990s). The hardback was bigger, with more rules and even more background, but somehow no replacement for the the 128 or 64 page or whatever booklet in the boxed set. We didn’t play it, as far as I recall, partly because we’d moved on to GURPS but partly because it seemed to pick up more Rolemasterisms. In the 1990s, though, more crunch was in, so simple was passe. 😦

    • Fractalbat

      September 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      Rolemaster was always just beyond my comfort zone for crunch, but I was lucky to have a GM who knew the system cold. A good GM makes that game sing. A GM who doesn’t know the system well enough means a night of flipping pages. I’ve had that experience too.

      Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying hit a sweet spot for me, being similar to Rolemaster in many respects but more accessible. GURPS 3rd Edition was my main game for many years. It’s easy to dial the crunch up or down to suit your taste.

      I don’t think I’d run MERP now, but I wouldn’t mind picking up the old Moria sourcebook. Nothing makes me happier than a megadungeon where dwarves dug too greedily and too deep.


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