I stopped back into Phoenix Fire Games this evening and had another look around. It appears that their Customer Loyalty program is a bit more robust than the one at Hobbytown. The Hobbytown program here offers a $5 coupon for every $100 you spend, good for use on any purchase over $25 in the next 90 days. Idaho has a 6% sales tax, so the coupon almost covers that. Most of their Warhammer box sets are marked down from list price a fair amount, while blister packs and army books are usually sold at MSRP. Core rules are usually offered at a discount as well. I'm not sure what formula they use, but it works out in general that the Hobbytown prices are pretty competitive with internet prices, except during seasonal sales, bulk purchases, and/or when the Pound is weak against the US Dollar.
The Phoenix Fire Games Rewards program is based on the $100 model, but for every $100 you spend, you get 10% off on your next purchase. The website encourages you to load up and save, making sure that your 10% discount applies to a large purchase. On the surface it seems like a good system for someone who plans out an army and buys it all at once, with hobby supplies and odds and ends making up the initial $100 of purchases. It's not the 20% off + shipping that certain online retailers offer, but the online retailers can't offer a space to game and a local community of like-minded people. If you planned out your purchases, this program would probably work out a bit better than the Hobbytown program, but for multiple small purchases Hobbytown still offers the best deal locally. But Hobbytown doesn't really focus on gaming and has moved away from having games going on in the store, although the Hobbytown here in my town has a pretty active TCG group that takes over a large portion of the store on tournament days. They don't offer enough table space as the shop is quite small, so most of the games are played on the floors in the aisles, luckily away from the miniatures section of the store.
There were a fair number of people in the gaming area of the Phoenix Fire store today. It looked like they were mostly playing TCGs. I've purchased decks and cards for most of the major TCGs (Magic, World of Warcraft, Vs., Pokemon, probably some others), but the sheer number of cards and frequent releases overwhelms me a bit. I just can't process all of the stuff that's going on in most TCGs. Even when I was playing Heroclix, the sheer number of stats and abilities crushed my brain. The other guys who played seemed able to memorize every stat on every figure, but I never really mastered it. Anyway, there was a decent crowd in the shop and they all appeared to be having a good time. I saw one guy walking around with a Tyranid codex and a box of figures, but I didn't see anyone playing any miniature games. I didn't look too hard, though, and the event calendar says tonight was board game night. There could have been five games of Warhammer going on and I may have missed it.
One of the games on the shelves that haven't seen elsewhere in town (I haven't been to All About Games recently) is Malifaux, the miniatures game by Wyrd Miniatures, It's a skirmish-level Steampunk/Fantasy game with an accompanying line of figures. I know it is a diceless game that relies on cards, but I don't know much else about it, aside from seeing the figures and reading about it on a few of the blogs I follow. To me, an uneducated observer, it appears to target the same sort of person who plays Warmachine/Hordes, which I categorize as a mix between a standard miniature wargame and a TCG. I don't think I'll buy into either system, but I can't say I haven't thought about it. I do hope that the shop runs a Warhammer or Warhammer 40k league around the time I get home from Iraq. I will try to support the shop, as it's the closest thing I've got to a local gaming-focused store.