Game of Thrones has always been a small market card game, and as the US economy has gotten tighter, many game store are more selective about what they carry. Often, if a game doesn't have a proven track record, stores are less likely to carry it. Our store has been very successful with GoT because I an a fan of the game, and have spent hours doing demos and promotions, and have also hosted weekly events. On the opposite end of the spectrum are store's like my brother-in-law runs in St. Cloud (about an hour north-west of Minneapolis -- the Twin Cities, my store and his make a triangle of sorts). St. Cloud has over 10x the population of our home city, and I suggested he try Thrones. Both him and his wife enjoy the books, and I told him if he learned the game and did demos and events (like I did) he should do well with the game. Instead, he put it on the shelf and never looked at the rules. He finally sold off the last of his Valyrian starters in the past year, and won't even consider stocking the LCG.
To be fair, though, I make many of the same decisions. There are many card games out there, and unless you are a major store there is no way to carry them all. We consistently stock Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh!, World of Warcraft and Game of Thrones. I occasionally carry Naruto, Pokemon and UFS. I tried L5R, Warlord, Vs., Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and many others over the years. Some games do well in some areas, some not so well.
On the other hand, I doubt you could walk into any game store in MN and not find a FFG Board Game. This is where FFG truly excels, and we carry a large selection of their games ourselves. I think this is what FFG and Christian is trying to tap into with the LCG model -- put the card game next to other board game products, make the base game stand alone and try to promote the Chapter Packs as expansions. This gives the opportunity for board gamers to actually give the game a try, and for folks into collectible games it actually makes Thrones a very cheap game comparatively. After all, what other game can you buy the full set of cards for $40? And looking at the success of games like Dominion why shouldn't this model work.
I do feel that most game manufacturers do a poor job of getting product information into the hands of retailers. Most often a retailer has to contact a manufacturer directly, and then hope they get on either their mailing or email list. Even then, you often don't get good or timely information. I know as much about FFG games as I do because I practically live on this site, but the other day I got a phone call from looking looking for Elk Run, which I had never heard of. Turns out, it is a game by Mayfair, the makers of Catan. Yet I had no idea this game existed, as Mayfair has not sent me any catalogs, emails or other information about their games in years, if in fact ever. And out store has been open for 5-1/2 years, and I have talked with their reps at trade shows, and know they had to have received a business card from us at some point. At least FFG sends out a weekly email to keep me posted, but again I had to sign up to receive it.
Well, once again I have gone off on a gaming tangent, but the way it see it, information is power, and the more people know, the better off they are. Hope you enjoyed your visit, and be thankful you weren't here the previous week when temperatures where 20 degrees colder (in Celsius).
I should also add that even if you showed up at my store, I would only have had one Core Set as well, as I sold the second to last copy on Wednesday night.