First store where you bought your gaming supplies. Does it still exist?
You ever been to a Hastings? My experience in the last couple of years at Hastings makes this question somewhat challenging to answer. Back in the day, Hastings was kind of like a…bookier Best Buy? Like, you’d go there to buy books, but also video games and VHS tapes/DVDs, and also there was candy. Going to Hastings was what I graduated to from going to KB Toys. Not that I wouldn’t one-hundred-percent hit a KB’s right the fuck now. Because I would.
Oh how I would.
And not those lame seasonal toy stores that carry the name. Real-ass KB’s. But I digress!
Hastings was the high point of any trip to the Rock Springs mall, and I’d duck into the DnD section and leaf through whatever was new, or–eventually–whatever I hadn’t gotten to yet. I didn’t pick up the Complete Ninja’s Handbook for a looong time because, frankly, ninjas were kind of played out. If we wanted that, we had Rifts: Japan. I had a Samurai with six arms that all had palm-mounted plasma cannons.
There was a dude who was theoretically in charge of that section, and I’m fairly confident he had both a long dark ponytail and a small goatee. Over the years, we (many Hastings trips were taken in the company of my players, who were much easier to talk into a visit than my parents) moved from getting the stink eye for leafing through books to a grudging acceptance and even welcome. It went from “Help you boys find anything?” to “You check this out yet?” That was a huge, empowering moment.
The reason I say this is a challenging question is because I’ve been to that Hastings within the last year, and several times over the last couple decades. I also, as a sort of cross-sectional thing, hit the Hastings in Santa Fe, New Mexico several times. Plus…*shudder* the one in Laramie, which is exactly like the tunnels a Morkoth builds to hypnotize and devour its prey. The thing is, Hastings is not what it used to be. They seem to have moved into inhospitable areas, those sort of sub-mall commercial realms that serve the ends of town as far from actual malls as possible. The one in Rock Springs, at the very least, is considerably larger now than when it was in the mall; but that’s because Hastings has become–unless it was always this and I wasn’t aware–a place that is almost a consignment store? You’ll be leafing through books right there on the shelf and, boom, used copy they’re reselling. Discount’s often pretty decent, but that’s because it’s some Gamestop-era rebuy business, and that always makes me feel gross. Especially with books, because I love books. If I’m buying a used book, I’ma do it from a wee independent shop and probably because it’s some obscure-ass thing you can’t find new on the shelf. Like my complete collection of the White Wolf Hunter series. Not the rulebooks, I have those already, the novels.
Which are pretty bad.
To conclude! Hastings still exists, kind of. But it definitely doesn’t feel like the Hastings I went to as a child. It used to be this green, glimmering gemstone of a fancy scenario. I was pumped to be there. Now it’s more like a yard sale you walk by on your way back from the convenience store, so it’s someone in your neighborhood, and they’re sitting outside and you feel this obligation to stop and examine a few things, hem and haw, and then claim you don’t have any cash and scurry home with your big fountain soda. You don’t feel clean, you don’t feel right, and if you do purchase a rulebook (which they still tend to have a surprisingly robust selection of) it’s more an act of rescue than commerce.