Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Dry Goods Store

I often have trouble trying to figure out the kind of store they would have in small fantasy towns. If you read Urban Development, you’ll see that any village of 500 or more people should have two or more stores. I always assume the first two are the dry goods store and the grocery. But what do they sell at the dry goods store?

So it hit me how easy this is. Do you have a farm and ranch store near you? There’s a bunch of these but by far the best is Tractor Supply Company. Take a walk through there and the ideas should just pour out. Now obviously, you have to convert modern to fantasy. Non-power tools are likely exactly the same, though no wrenches or screw drivers. Any vehicles or trailers need to be broken down to wagons and carts and the number needs to be reasonable for the population (probably only one cart and one wagon). Clothing probably doesn’t exist, but might be replaced with fabrics. The again - some clothing might work: belts, gloves, lederhosen, maybe even a jacket.

Forget the power tools, but maybe not their function, such as an auger instead of a power drill. Don’t forget the animal feeds, but would they be in bags or piles? Truck boxes might be chests; tarps might be canvas instead of plastic. Ropes, chains, fertilizers, pesticides, even wheel lubricants should be there made from era appropriate materials.

What about food? Well the jerkies seem a good fit, maybe even some of the snacks like pretzels. The food probably depends on what the grocery store stocks, but maybe it’s rations at the dry goods store and flour and other foods at the grocery. If your world has beer in bottles, this might fit too. Just like TSC, the dry goods store has no refrigeration.

TSC works well because they have a very broad selection of stuff but not as deep a selection as you might find at a hardware store. Think of a big box hardware store - you would get lost in the hammer aisle. Even still - you need to lower the inventory; small town shop keepers cannot afford to carry inventory.

Why does it matter? Because personally I’m sick of not knowing what’s for sale. PCs stroll into town and want horses, saddles and spurs. Not at this country store. But if they need a weapon, how about an axe or a hammer? Knowing, or at least having a pretty good idea, really makes it easier and better.

1 comment:

  1. Locally, we have these stores. Nearby, I can go to one of the two (******) brother's stores. One is a butcher shop to get your bacon for the morning campfire in the woods, as well as hunting, fishing supplies. Ammo, Hand Tied Flies, and general advice from the local guys who you won't find down at the tavern; these are the men who spend their lives hunting, fishing, growing smokables; Indians and ex-cons and sovereign people, who dont go into town perhaps, but know everything that goes on in the local "backyards" let's say. They know where to best spots are, but you need to gain their trust. They know what and where is haunted, and as most have more than a little Indian blood, you listen. These guys know things that no tavern-goers know. This shop is where they get their deals done and hangout when out of the bush, where their meat is butchered by the owner; where drinks and smokes are on-the-house for regulars; but also where a non-regular like me can go to buy shotshells, cartridges or fishing gear, used truck guns, or the best damn bacon in the world, and be treated with some suspicion, sure, but if I ask a question, I'll get some level of answer, provided I answer the usual interrogation first; name, residence, relations.
    At the other brother's store, we have a jam packed array of adventuring gear. You have handpicked, masterwork boots, coats, gloves, vests, belts, ropes, axes, hatchets, arrows and heads. The owner gives a full warranty, so he has 40 years experience of the items that come back after a few months in the bush broken or useless He has to replace it with something better; so he buys the "something better" in the first place. Sure, he carries $20 chinese camping axes, but he will be the first to ask what it's being used for, and if I'm going into the woods, he will point me to the Swedish Wetterlings at ten times the cost, but then he will haggle down or throw in a box of 30-30 ammo to sweeten the deal. He knows his stuff. He also knows a little bit about everyone, every family, and local history, as well as being a trove of tips and information.

    My point? Like you tractor store, the folks here who live on the edges of the wild have their own needs, and there are stores that meet those needs Not box stores, Cabelas carries the same gear coast to coast. These are hand-picked, local or NA/EU made goods of masterwork quality, to fit the needs of the local "adventurer". The people who hang out here, as well, have a whole different set of local knowledge than the winos at the hamlet's local tavern.

    In an RPG frontier or semi-settled area, these stores would be the go-to place for adventurers. You can walk into these stores with your weapons and no one bats an eyelash, except to take a look maybe and offer advice or opinions. You can't go to the hamlet tavern with your crossbow in a peaceful area...but in the hunting/fisher/guide/ranger stores, it's okay. And you, as a semi-criminal adventurer or at least by appearance an outsider, can feel more welcome and comfortable among the outliers at these places. The local farmers may come here to buy a few masterwork arrows to kill the coyotes that have carried off two calves, but will most assuredly be offered to let two local hunters take out the whole family of them in exchange for the pelts and some cash. I never liked the idea of an adventurers guild hall or somesuch in non-massive cities. These local hideaways for the trail riders serve the purpose better yet, because they offer more variety.

    So, for ideas for frontier or villages close to wilderness, go to your local indian reservation and check out their hunting/fishing/outdoors or general store. Guaranteed you will get a spark.

    Awesome post, J.J. really got my juices going with this one.