As someone who loves spending my time and money at comic book and gaming stores, I’m always seeking them out and exploring to find more. I even have an ongoing list saved on my phone of ones that I still need to check out. There is a much larger amount of these types of places in Buffalo and the Western New York area than one would think, and the number of them is constantly growing. Not only does that make my nerdy self extremely happy, but it shows how vast and accepting the nerd culture community is here. Lovers of comic books, video games, and board games have come together to support an awful lot of local businesses to help them grow into something great. Recently, however, I came across a gaming shop that appears in need of some of that same sort of support.
Iron Crown has been on Main Street for about twenty years, but it looks as though it has been forgotten by gamers as new stores arose. Part of that could be due to it being easily missed from the street, as it blends in with the surrounding residential area… but it is most likely due to its condition.
It’s pretty run down for a place that’s still in business. It’s a cluttered mess, with piles of boxes towering over much of the store. The boxes make it difficult to move around, browse products, and they even prevent a whole table from being used for gaming. The amount of boxes make it look as though they are just moving in, but they aren’t. It’s unclear if customers were allowed to search through the boxes or not, as some appeared to be for storage and some were just trash, but I suspect that’s probably where the comics were. Their business card advertises that they carry comic books and I didn’t see them elsewhere, so I assume they are lost in the mountain of junk boxes.
The place is pretty filthy. Dirt covers much of the floor, and dust blankets over the games and shelves. During my brief trip there, I had to brush the dust off my hands each time I held a game to look at it. There’s a random sink toward the back in the “open” gaming area. It’s an old building so I get that it might not be something they can help, but they could at least clean the old brown spots out of it. Empty alcohol bottles lay in the sink and at least one of the random junk boxes. I’m not sure if there were used during a role-playing game tavern scene or just need to be thrown out, but it adds to the excessive clutter.
I have only been in Iron Crown one time – perhaps I came on a bad day? Maybe they were remodeling. I checked online reviews to see if it’s typically as unkempt, and there are countless reviews, some going back five or more years, discussing how dirty the store is. I hope there are times when it is actually cleaned, but the layers of dust imply otherwise. It might behoove the owner to hire a part-time gamer to manage the store?
On the more positive side, the store’s owner seems like one of the friendliest people one could meet, and genuinely wants to help customers find what they’re looking for, whether in-store or through online ordering. He’s a delight to talk to about the amazing state of the tabletop gaming industry, what games are the most enjoyable, and wacky Dungeons & Dragons stories.
Iron Crown offers an excellent selection of games. A whole wall is dedicated to some of the best board games around, including some that I’ve never even heard of. Gamers looking for something new will surely discover something there. They also offer a huge selection of D&D books and have a particularly massive focus on miniatures. They have some pretty cool gaming accessories. It’s just heartbreaking to see such great games go untouched and unplayed, sitting on a dusty old shelf. If the place was spruced up, there would assuredly be more customers and sales.
The store was completely empty (other than the owner) when I was there, and I can see why. But, despite the store’s condition, don’t avoid Iron Crown. Instead, go and support it. I’m sure it was on top of the gaming world twenty years ago, and maybe it can get there again if it gains back some support. Right now, they close earlier than their listed hours, and I’m willing to bet lack of clientele is part of the reason. It could also be the reason why the owner hasn’t been as motivated to tidy up. Instead of letting this gaming store become forgotten, maybe gamers can give some support to this local business to help it regrow into what it has the potential to be?
Iron Crown | 3077 Main Street | Buffalo, NY 14214 | (716) 831-0957