When I started wargaming back in the early 90s, independent wargames stores were pretty common here in the UK. Games Workshop opened their store in Maidstone in 1992 on Pudding Lane, and I’m pretty sure they chose that location because it was just around the corner from Maidstone Games, an indie store that had been there since forever, selling D&D books and BattleTech mechs and the like.
Nowadays, probably thanks to Games Workshop’s aggressive growth strategy (plus the general trend towards “clone town” retail districts), it seems like indie stores are pretty rare. Maidstone Games closed in the late 90s and since then, Maidstone has only had GW, and those few shops that did stock wargames miniatures and hobby supplies tended just to install a GW retail rack and be done with it (a notable exception being Hobbycraft, who also stock Flames of War and GF9 hobby materials).
As a result, it’s pretty hard to find a FLGS in the UK nowawadays, so the opening of No Man’s Land, a new — and more importantly, really cool — independent store in your home town is a pretty big deal, in fact it’s big enough to warrant a celebrity appearance at its opening.
Having discovered its existence, I wasted little time in dropping in and taking a look. So far, it’s like a dream come true.
The shop is large (much larger than I was expecting) and spacious, and filled with the awesome sound of hard rock and heavy metal (which for me is the only proper soundtrack to wargames). There are half a dozen chest-high wargaming tables that can be rented for £2 per hour – if you sign up for an annual membership (£20) you can pre-book them, otherwise it’s pay and play.
There’s also a nice big area for painting and hobby stuff, and a nook (still under construction) for playing RPGs.
They currently stock GW a-plenty (and at lower prices than you get direct), plus Flames of War, Mantic Games, Firestorm Armada, Distopian Wars, Talisman and many others. Classic BattleTech stuff is arriving soon.
Best bit of all – they play Epic!
I’m so stoked that No Man’s Land exists that I’ve made it my personal mission to support them with my hobby purchases. From now on, I’m going to buy everything through them, and only buy online or direct if they can’t buy it in. And I’m going to be dragging my mates down for games of 40K, Epic, and BattleTech.
Support your FLGS! If you don’t, then you can’t complain if it closes down.