Friday, April 22, 2011

Game Stores: Hammond Toys & Hobbies (Sandy, UT)

I've decided to take a quick work break and do another post about some of the old game shops I used to visit back in the day.  Staying with my theme of "earliest to latest", I'm going all the way back to the beginning for me, when I learned the game while living in Sandy, Utah.  I've already written about probably the "coolest" (atmosphere-wise) game shop in Utah back in the day, Cosmic Aeroplane.  Today's post is about a more true representation of an actual game store, Hammond Toys and Hobbies. 

Unlike Cosmic Aeroplane, Hammond's was actually located in my hometown of Sandy, so it didn't involve a 20 minute car ride to "the city" to get there.  All we had to do was hop in my mom's 1981 brown Buick Skylark (which, years later, ended up being my first car) and zip over to Hammond's, which was about a five minute drive.  I use the word "zip" facetiously here, because:

1) My mom was driving.
2) It was a BUICK SKYLARK.  'Nuff said.

Hammond's was the complete deal - a full toy store and hobby store in one.  It was absolutely crammed to the gills with every toy imaginable, but in a very organized, orderly way.  Stuffed animals, puzzles, action figures, die-cast metal cars, models, dolls, board games, radio-control cars, trains, blocks, Legos, trucks, preschool toys, and the Granddaddy of them all - Role-Playing Games, were all on display in a clean, well-lit store with relatively fresh air and a friendly staff. 

And what an RPG section!  Back then, to get an RPG your choices were to risk going into "the city" and peruse the very limited selection at Cosmic Aeroplane and walk away with a contact high, or else go to Gemco, Fred Meijer, or Toys (backwards) R Us, and see basically just TSR boxed sets (Moldvay Basic, Cook Expert, maybe Gangbusters and Top Secret, and perhaps the latest module or two, if you were lucky).  If that didn't work, then you went to Hammond's.  After a while, I gave up on all of those other places and just went to "the source." 

Hammond's carried not only the boxed sets, but also dozens of modules, the AD&D hardbacks (which, believe me, were pretty hard to come by in conservative 1980s Utah), and also games by other game companies. This was the real treat for someone like me, who started seeing ads for these other games in The Dragon but never saw them in a store until I went to Hammond's.  They carried Traveler, MERP, Rolemaster, and lots of the FGU line like Space Opera and Aftermath.  Not only did they carry all the new stuff, but they had a bunch of old hidden gems, sitting right out on the wire peg racks.  The first time I ever saw, or even heard of, the OD&D Supplement II: Blackmoor was at Hammond's, and I eventually ended up saving my money to buy it. 

Hammond's also carried accessories for role-playing games, like graph paper and (gasp!) hex paper.  They actually had pads of hex paper you could buy, with your choice of two different hex sizes!  Seriously, you can't imagine what this was like to a kid growing up in a relatively small-ish town in Utah back then.  This was A Big Deal™.  

 Sadly, my friends and I at the time didn't always treat Hammond's very well.  Let's just say that around the time I fell in with a group of friends who were... less than honest.  They may have blurred the lines a bit between games and real life regarding the thief's pick pockets skill.  These people didn't stay my friends for very long, but the damage was done at the time.  

Interesting, while looking up some images for this post, I found that Hammond Toys & Hobbies is still going strong back in Utah.  They're apparently been around since 1954 and still have three retail locations in addition to an online sales business.  I checked out their site and found some very quaint references to RPGs.  For example, there is a company listing for "TSR", under which is listed "Dungeons & Dragons."  However, there is a completely separate listing for "Wizards of the Coast", under which is listed "Magic: The Gathering." Their selection doesn't look very deep - the D&D stuff is a mixture of 3E, 3.5, and 4E stuff, but they have some Warhammer FRP stuff, dice bags, miniatures, and other items.  

I'm glad to see that one of the few game stores I visited in my youth is still around and apparently doing quite well.  Here's a toast to their next 57 years in business.  Cheers!

Hanging: At my parents' house in my old room while they watch my daughter and I "work"
Listening: "Lebanese Blonde" by Thievery Corporation
Drinking: A negroni with Hendrick's gin


  1. Thanks for sharing your game-store memories!

  2. Glad you're enjoying them! There's more to come.

  3. Next session, we'll have to share stories on the blurred lines regarding a thief's pick pocket skills....

    - Jeff "Light Fingers" F.


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