Sunday, September 21, 2008

Buying Games in Jerusalem

People often ask me where they can buy games like Settlers of Catan or Puerto Rico in Jerusalem, and, until now, I thought that they couldn't. You can get some decent Foxmind and Winning Moves games in most toy stores. But for the biggies, you have to order them through an Israeli retailer, such as Baduk or Tactica.

Well, it turns out that I was wrong. You CAN get some of these games in Jerusalem.

One of the main importers, Hakubiyah, has a list of stores that carry their games, including the Settlers series and many others. The stores are listed on their web site, and include:
  • Monster Gaming: Mercaz Rannanim, Modiin, 077-7123415
  • Dani Books: Even Yisrael 3, 02-6248293
  • Rosenfeld Toys: Jaffa 34, 02-6240854
  • Tamir Books: Beit Hakerem 29, 02-6511926
  • Liborato Books: Hapalmach 42, 02-5661311
  • Books in Rechavia: Azza 34, 02-5665658
The other main importer that I know about is Silver Stars, and their site lists a nearly identical list of retail stores in Jerusalem.

As far as I know, each importer has exclusive license for any particular game (usually a company's entire line of games), so you're not going to find the game cheaper in one store than another. Look at both sites to see the list of games that the retailers may stock. Then call ahead to see if a particular store has a particular game in stock.

If you don't know the games, email me for suggestions.

I called Rosenfeld Toys today to see if they carried Settlers of Catan (for a gift), and they let me buy it over the phone with my credit card, and then delivered it to my house after business hours completely free as an added service.

Yehuda

2 comments:

Avraham said...

My experiences buying games from within Jerusalem:

I've acquired board games from three places since coming to Jerusalem, none of which are in-store experiences.

I've bought games from Hakubia. Every month or two in my office building, they'll have mini-fairs and have a variety of vendors in the lobby. Sometimes, one of those vendors is Hakubia with a table of board games. In fact, they're here today. I'll probably buy something from them because I like that they come to where I work, and I like supporting the local board game economy. I've also ordered from their website a couple times. They deliver promptly and are easily accessible if you call them. As of the last time I ordered, they have a global promotion code that gives 35 shekels off of an order of 100 shekels or more: BIG 6528

The second way I bought games was from freak.org.il. From their website, they seem to be slightly cheaper and have a slightly better selection than Hakubia. I placed an order for a couple of board games, but then they emailed me that they were actually out-of-stock. Over a month later they called me and said they got the games and wanted to know if they could proceed with the order. I said sure. I got a delivery notice about a week later. My post office is relatively close, so I figured that I'd go there to pick it up when I had the chance. A couple weeks and a couple more missed delivery slips later, I went to pick it up. But it wasn't at my local post office! That's what I get for not reading the delivery slip. It was at a post office in Givat Shaul. I called them to try to arrange another delivery, but they said that they tried three times already and so I had to go to them to pick it up. So the next day I took a cab there to pick up my games, and they were fine. Overall, not as pleasant an experience as Hakubia.

The third way is that I bought games from gateplay.com and had it delivered through ushops.co.il.

First, about UShops. UShops is a website that gives you an address in the United States (specifically, in New Jersey), and whatever they receive at that address, they subsequently forward to your Israeli address. They also say that they verify the contents of the packages for you when they receive them, but I don't know if I believe that, as their website does not list the contents of the package that you receive, and always lists the origin of the package as being from amazon.com. My first attempt at using UShops didn't go so well (for a non-game order), mainly because I was trying to use their sister site, usaddress.com. Do NOT use usaddress.com; it is broken. Since using ushops.co.il, I haven't had any problems.

Next about GatePlay. GatePlay is an online board game retailer based in California. I purchased through them because they had pretty good prices on the games that I wanted to buy, offer free shipping in the U.S. on orders over $100, have a nice website design, and offer Google Checkout as a payment option. I prefer Google Checkout to PayPal because I am unable to add my Israeli credit card to my PayPal account.

Now about the ordering experience. GatePlay shipped out my order very quickly and was very courteous. With the free shipping, it took eight days for the games to arrive to my UShops address in New Jersey. From there, I had to pay additional taxes and fees for shipping the items to Israel. I don't know the exact calculations for these fees, but based on the orders that I've made, the taxes are about 35% of the original order price, and shipping by sea is about an additional 30% of the original order price. Shipping by air would have been roughly 60% of the original order price instead. I just received my games this morning, 43 days after they arrived in New Jersey. So all together, shipping games from the U.S. to Jerusalem took a total of 51 days and an additional 65% in costs on top of the website purchase price.

In the future, I'll probably be buying most of my board games through UShops, and occasionally through Hakubia. Even though there is the additional 65% in costs, the prices for board games in Israel are generally more than double the prices at U.S.-based websites. Also, I like buying a few games at a time, which saves on shipping, and don't mind waiting a long time to receive the games. Even if I did want a game quickly, I could pay for the air shipment which would significantly decrease the time, and still be cheaper than buying here in Israel.

Yehuda said...

Avraham, yes. But when your next door neighbor non-game playing family wants to buy a game for their kid, and they're going to be downtown, a few extra NIS for a game doesn't compare to being able to put Settlers of Catan into their hands within a few hours.

Yehuda