The above is probably the last photo that will ever be taken of Omocha Souko, my favorite game shop ever, which sadly closed in April. Within a few days all that will be left of that massive beautiful complex will be a vacant lot waiting to have a new pachinko parlor built on it.
Now check this out, the latest dental clinic in town. Open 7 days a week. Located in Ropponmatsu within easy walking distance of the subway station.
Er....why am I showing you a picture of a dental clinic?
Well, I actually went out to Ropponmatsu yesterday specifically because I was nearby and there was a retro game shop that I wanted to do a post about. I hadn`t been there in a couple of years, but the last time I visited they had a decent little Famicom game selection that I thought would provide good material for some photos.
Only when I got there yesterday I found that sometime during the last two years that the little game shop had closed down and been replaced with a dental clinic.
These two closures don`t seem to be isolated incidents but part of a growing trend of retro game store closures. No sooner had I posted about Omocha Souko`s closure than a reader alerted me to the fact that they had also closed their Maebaru store (out in the west end of Fukuoka) a year or two earlier. That was a surprise as I had visited that place once (without camera, hence no post about it here) and found it to have an excellent Famicom selection. Also as I reported in 2010 all of the GEO locations in Fukuoka, most of which used to have really good selections of Famicom and other retro games, completely liquidated all of their retro games and now only stock current (post-PS2) stuff.
I`m not the only one to notice this, Hollis on Super Gaijin Ultra Gamer also reported a couple months ago that his favorite retro game shop was getting out of the business.
While all these closures have been going on, no new shops have been opening up to take their place, meaning that it is getting harder and harder to find retro games `in the wild` here. Not impossible as there are still a good number of shops out there, but the herd is being thinned at an alarming rate.
I`m not sure what the immediate cause of this is. Internet sales providing too much competition? Maybe. Bad economy? Probably. People losing interest in the Famicom and retro gaming? NEVER!
Anyway, I hope the trend reverses itself. In all likelihood I was a little spoiled for a couple of years there between 2008 and 2010 when this city was awash with shops selling Famicom stuff. There may have been more than the market could handle. Kind of like the way in the early 1990s in North America every city breifly had about 50 baseball card and comic book shops, almost all of which suddenly went out of business by about 1995 or so. Well, I HOPE it isn`t that bad as I need these shops to be around, they are the lifeblood of my collection!
Anybody else out there in Japan noticed a similar trend of retro game shop closures? Or, I hope, openings?
Edited July 4 to add: Found yet another retro game shop that has bitten the dust yesterday.