So, the Sandstorm Pre-Release Tournaments are over, and Sandstorm is going to be hitting the streets soon. Wait, it's already been out for over a week now at Target stores! What's with that? Friday (Sept 12), I went to my local shop -- the place where I and many others play Pokemon every Saturday -- to look for Sandstorm boosters and a few theme decks. The assistant manager said that they were not getting any Sandstorm products until the Pre-Release events were over. I told him that I seen online here on the 'Gym that Target had started selling Sandstorm on the 7th or 8th. He got really upset about that, and I really cannot blame him. When I first told the owner and the assistant manager that Nintendo was taking over the franchise, they were pretty excited, and started checking all of their options for getting in good with Nintendo. This shop LIKES Pokemon, and has been supporting the game for nearly as long as it's been out in the US. They had (and still have for MtG) a good relationship with WoTC, and were hoping that Nintendo could even be better. Instead, for all of their efforts, they first got Ruby and Sapphire boosters and theme decks about a week AFTER the official release date. To add insult to injury, I think Target was selling Ruby and Sapphire days BEFORE the official release date. But you know, the folks at the shop I play at were willing to write that off to mis-coordination and mistakes that can happen when someone is doing something new -- i.e. Nintendo and distribution of a TCG. Sure, the distribution channels were probably just messed up or not fully established. But for it to happen again? That's what has the shop where I play angry. They WANT to support the game, but how can they if the market for the newest Pokemon releases gets saturated days (or weeks maybe?) before they get product. How can they sell enough cards to justify the effort they put into a weekly League if places like Target, which do NOT support organized play, make all of the profit (meager as it is) generated by a new release, and thereby blunt the sales that a small shop ought to see. I'm pretty sure League will continue for now. The staff where I play is going to try talking with Nintendo, they want to host a few of the big events for Central/Northern California and they want to help grow Pokemon. I'll make sure that I continue to purchase boosters and decks from the shop where I and my children play as my budget allows to help keep the store Pokemon friendly. I hope everyone who reads this can make that commitment to their own local stores. But we need Nintendo to get this right also. Without the multitude of small shops and gaming centers across the US supporting the game, there isn't going to be anywhere to play. And if there is nowhere to hold weekly Pokemon Leagues, the game is going to die. In my opinion, that means that at the very least Nintendo needs to make sure that the release date for a new set is the same release date for EVERYONE, with no exceptions for mass retailers. I would prefer to see the small shops get first crack, as that is where the game will grow (and generate more sales), and the mass retail places perhaps be a week behind. Without making the playing field even (at least), the small shops like the one I play at will be forced to drop Pokemon for something where they CAN make enough to justify the investment.