Last week, I also received an email from Steve Jackson Games, asking me to confirm that the store still operated and to update our information on their store locator. Yes, Steve Jackson Games has a store locator and it is probably the best one in the industry, for two reasons.
First, it is quite easy to register with the SJG store locator. A couple of minutes spent entering information into the website and you are done.
Secondly, and just as important, the SJG store locator polices itself. Regularly, the website sends out a confirmation email, asking the recipient to click a link to confirm that the store remains active. I assume that, if no one clicks on the link, the store locator removes the store from the locator ( I assume, we always click the link so do not really know what happens if you fail to do so). From what I can tell, with the exception of Diamond’s Comic Shop Locator, once a store gets onto a company’s store locator, it remains on there until the locator itself goes defunct. Even WOTC’s store locator, which sends us about 5 times the traffic of the SJG one, never asks stores to update listings or removes stores no longer in business. I know of a number of store owners who have said that when they do a search for stores in their area through the WOTC store locator, a number of stores come up that went out of business several years ago, which confuses potential customers and directs sales away from existing stores. If SJG can have their locator send out a regularly scheduled maintenance link, surely WOTC could do the same.
Another locater that does a good job of keeping its list clean is Diamond’s Comic Shop Locator. Of course, it uses a different mechanism rather than just registering on the site. You can only appear on it if you have a Diamond account, which almost all comic shops do, and pay a fee, currently starting at $50 a year. This serves as a great way to winnow out inactive stores. If you don’t pay, you get dropped from the locator. Here’s hoping someone eventually does something similar for game stores sometime.