Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Games Workshop Meadowhall

Some things are just meant to be there. No matter what. Woolworths should have had its place forever on our high streets. Michael Jackson wasn’t meant to die.
I had no particular love for Woolworths, but that didn’t matter. If something is there long enough, it becomes a feature, however subtle, in your life. Take it away and a part of yourself is taken away too.
Apply this to something you love and the void is all the greater – perhaps never to be filled.
The Meadowhall branch of Games Workshop is closing. If you’ve taken time out to read this, that sentence just slapped you round the face, even if you already knew. Read it again. Bam! A punch to the gut.
Some Corporate Suit - sat in a leather swivel-chair someplace in an oak-panelled office surrounded by motivational posters and projection graphs - has just kicked your heart out into the street.
Even your normal every day punter who has never set foot in the store would say – “damn, that’s a real shame”. If they have spent enough time in Meadowhall, just walking past something every few weeks, it becomes a feature in their lives, if it’s there long enough.
And boy has it been there long enough. Meadowhall has been open for 22 years. The Games Workshop store – 20.
Twenty years. People have grown up there, for Christ’s sake!
It’s not like it’s a normal shop either is it. This isn’t Marks and Spencers. How many shops can you go and just hang out? How often do you go into HMV and the staff know you by name? Maybe in some little back street, privately owned, dusty book shop you might find something similar , but on the highstreet? In a massive shopping centre? No. It happens in just one place. And it’s been happening in a corner of Meadowhall for twenty years.
But things move on. Times they are a-changin’.
I was worried about Games Workshop in 2008 when the economy collapsed like a house of cards. Leisure companies everywhere began to struggle. I feared people would spend more time paying bills and making ends meet, than playing with toy soldiers. I purposefully tried to support the Meadowhall store specifically. Even when in another city, visiting a different branch, I’d think  - “no I’ll buy that extra Dreadnought at Meadowhall. I’ll get the next Heresy novel at my store.” Now I wonder if I could’ve done more.
But then it seemed liked I shouldn’t have worried - Games Workshop as a company has continued to perform and surprise in the face of economic uncertainty.
But the good times couldn’t last forever. They never can.
Some stores are reducing their opening hours. Some stores are closing. Sadly, it was Meadowhall’s time.
I won’t try to see the reason in it. I felt for sure that it was a stronger store and better placed than Sheffield’s. I don’t see the wisdom in opening a new store in Rotherham because the town is like 28 Days Later. And there’s nowhere to sodding park. But what do I know? I’ll never be the man in the swivel-chair.
I’m thankful that it was there at all. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made and I’ll do my best to keep in touch, get together and play some games – Still supporting GW Meadowhall, even when it’s a Starbucks.
Meadowhall’s Games Workshop is a small, perfect little corner of the world. Somewhere to go when your other half is queuing outside Hollisters. Somewhere to talk, gather, spend money on silly things that only mean anything to a select few. Something that’s meant to be there. No matter what.