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Wizards to shut all 64 stores
BILL HUTCHENS; The News Tribune
Wizards of the Coast Inc., the Renton company that makes trading cards and role-playing games including Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, said it will close its chain of 64 retail stores in 15 states.
Wizards, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., said the closure of its Wizards of the Coast and The Game Keeper stores, including a Tacoma Mall outlet, will allow it to focus on its core business of game design.
The company has retained Gordon Brothers Group LLC of Boston to assist with the closures, which should be completed in about 60 days.
Spokeswoman Barbara Dawson didn't return calls to her office Monday.
Toy retailers have been facing tough competition from discounters such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. that have slashed prices. Hobby shops also sell the cards, sometimes at lower prices.
Bill Wood, who manages the gaming department at Northwest Sportscards in University Place, said he doesn't believe consumers will notice much difference in the availability of Wizards cards.
Wood organizes several monthly game nights and tournaments around Wizards' most popular games, including Magic: The Gathering. He shrugged off Wizards' closing of company retail outlets.
"The fact that they're closing doesn't affect us too much," Wood said. "We might get a few more players at our events, but that's probably about it."
Wood said he doesn't buy the company line about closing outlets in order to focus on making games.
"The two are totally unrelated," he said.
A high suggested retail price for "boosters" is probably one factor that led to the decision, Wood said.
Boosters are packs of cards that enhance competition decks. Northwest Sportscards typically undercuts Wizards' suggested retail price and relies on volume to make up the difference, Wood said.
About 35 to 40 players, some from as far away as Seattle and Olympia, participate in Friday Night Magic events at Northwest Sportscards, Wood said.
Wizards of the Coast was founded in Renton in 1990 and acquired by Hasbro in 1999.
Hasbro shares closed up 6 cents Monday to $21.28 on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares are just off their 52-week high of $22.63, reached Nov. 4. The stock is up 84 percent this year.
A year ago today, shares were at $11.01.
Bloomberg News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bill Hutchens: 253-597-8460
SIDEBAR: Magic: The Gathering
A look at Wizards of the Coast Inc.'s top trading-card game
Origin: Created by Richard Garfield and introduced by Wizards in 1993
How it works: Players use a variety of warrior and spell cards to reduce an opponent's score from 20 to zero.
Fan base: 6 million players in 70 countries
Tournaments: More than 100,000 annually
Internet milestone: Three years ago, Wizards took the game to the Internet with Magic: The Gathering Online.
Games Hall of Fame: In November, independent Games magazine added Magic into its Games Hall of Fame where it joined 22 other classics, including Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.
Other games: Wizards of the Coast also makes Dungeons & Dragons games as well as games based on Pokémon, "Star Wars," "The Simpsons," Major League Baseball and other properties.
In 2004: Wizards plans to release a G.I. Joe card game, bring popular Japanese card game Duel Masters to the United States and introduce a new version of the classic World War II game Axis & Allies.
Bill Hutchens, The News Tribune