I listed the local gaming stores a few months ago and found that niche markets dominate our favored local scene. When it comes to the big chains, one stands head-and-shoulders above the rest for gamers looking for video games, books, movies and music. Hastings Entertainment has a very broad and shallow supply of items to suit a gamer’s needs when you either can’t hit a local store or can’t find a mainstream item on the list. They also have a buyback program that lets you sell used items at a fraction of the retail (in my experience, 25-50%) so that you will have even more funds to feed your habit.
Not all Hastings stores are created equally, though. I have made a habit of frequenting all three Boise locations in the past few months to help readers decide which stores to visit, and which are best avoided.
Hastings on Overland @ Five Mile:
The cream of the crop. This store features the wide selection of pen and paper roleplaying games, video games, movies and music that is the hallmark of the chain. The video game choices seem to be better than any of the other local stores. What blows me away about this store, however, is the staff and the overall appearance. Excellent customer service met me at all stops, I visited close to twenty times in the last few months, and the buyback experience was top notch. Keep an eye on their Roleplaying section and Value Books as many RPG titles seemed to find their way to the bargain bin before their popularity was spent. The same shopping center has both a Cyber Café and the Gamer’s Cave which only adds to the appeal.
10539 West Overland Road
Boise, ID - (208) 322-0314
Hastings on Boise Avenue @ Apple:
This is my home store and the one that I have shopped at for years. Since I stand out like a Nosferatu at a church bake sale, I asked some friends to mystery shop at different times to help with an unbiased opinion. The final opinion was unanimous: Shop after 5pm. The difference between store cleanliness and customer service between the morning and evening hours is literally night and day at this location. The used video games and RPGs tend to change very often, and this store is worth visiting at least weekly if you’re a collector of gaming titles. Buyback was quick and painless, and the evening video clerk who helped me with a recent resale of RPG products was superb. Hit the New Arrivals stand near the registers if you’re looking to grab some collectible out of print RPGs, at least if you want to get them before me!
680 East Boise Avenue
Boise, ID - (208) 345-9428
Hastings on Fairview @ Cole:
This store has the best RPG and non-video game selection amongst the three Boise locations. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the staff tends to watch customers like a hawk and this intimidation does not help their customer service at all. The bathrooms here are locked, presumably to prevent theft since that appears to be more important than assisting customers, and asking for assistance with anything is about as fun as a root canal. As with all stores, I visited multiple times at different hours and sadly, all gave me the same feel that customers would be better served elsewhere. The buyback experience was just as poor. It’s worth the drive to the Overland location if you’re looking to sell books; that way you won’t feel as if you’re inconveniencing sales staff who would much rather be leaning on fixtures or chatting with each other.
7500 W Fairview Ave
Boise, ID - (208) 375-3151