I would agree with the belief that there is a decent player base for this game that has no interest in playing at a store. I am one of those people. I'm a fairly new player for Armada (this is my first post here - I've been an unregistered lurker since before I bought the game)
When it comes to playing in a store I face some pretty interesting hurdles (which make it unlikely that I'll ever actually play in a store environment) I'll describe them below (of course your should view my reasons as purely anecdotal simply due to the fact that we don't have player data available to us)
1. Transit, I don't drive so transporting my minis via public transit makes for an interesting proposition. I could buy foam liners to protect my figures but that would cut into the money I could use to actually buy minis, and I currently don't see any value with playing in a store environment
2. Playing in a store environment. This would require me to: Know & understand the rules far better than I do currently. Play with strangers. Play in an environment that is busy.
It never really occurred to me until recently that playing games in a store is actually a viable activity. My perception of games played in stores boiled down to MtG or (in games workshop stores) Warhammer. The Warhammer crowd seemed very much like a closed community so I never considered that game as worth the investment (on top of that, when I did consider the space I had for such a game was limited - then I read somewhere that painting minis was a must if I wanted to be involved in a gaming community (which already seemed closed) so I wrote it off.
As it stands currently I'm only playing games with friends (or myself) and still learning the rules, so I haven't really moved on much from the starter scenario in the LtP book (I spent a lot of time pouring over both the LtP book & the RRB and the rules section on this forum to learn the rules) Due to my lack of knowledge of the rules & no idea how a stranger would treat me concerning my lack of understanding of rules I don't consider myself as ready to attempt playing in a store environment.
Busy environment: Stores primary purpose is to sell product, which means potential interruptions from inquiring minds not to mention considerably more background noise than my basement where I currently play (Armada has been permanently set up in my basement since I got my game mat from Deep cut studios a few weeks ago) Which allows for easier discussion with the individual I'm playing with.
3. Value. What is the value to playing in a store environment (see point 2)? I might consider it if I were interested in tournaments, but I'm not. Why would I be? Tournaments cost money to enter and don't really have any guaranteed reward. There is a tournament that my local game store is hosting at the end of june that costs $25 (edmonton, alberta canada - being hosted by Red Claw Gaming) to enter for the price of entry I get an alternate Akbar card. If I place top 16 I get some acrylic tokens. Instead of paying to enter tournament and lose (not to mention it is a regional tournament so that is another strike against me entering) I could use the same money to buy an Imperial raider or(a Neb B/ Corvetter/ Fighter pack)
4. Acceptance. The first thing I do when I buy a game is laminate all the playing cards that come with the game. I choose to laminate cards because it would have cost me close to $100 to buy sleeves for all the Twilight Imperium Cards so I laminated them instead. However I don't know how people will react to me using laminated cards due to it not being the accepted form of protecting cards.