It's easy to forget how faddish roleplaying games were even into the early 80s. Back in those heady days, you could buy RPGs -- and not just D&D -- from a wide variety of stores. One of the places I used to go to was called Games & Gadgets. Ostensibly, it sold video games -- also a faddish item at the time -- so you could buy game cartridges for the Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Colecovision, as well as other electronic games. But they also sold RPGs in great quantities, including miniatures and paints.
I distinctly recall that Games & Gadgets was the only place where I'd ever seen Grenadier Models blister packs. Prior to that, I'd only ever seen the boxed sets of Grenadier minis, so it was quite a revelation to me to stumble across these small packages of 3-6 miniatures in a clear plastic bubble that actually let me see them directly. I bought quite a few of them, including the kobold sets, because you can never have enough kobolds. I also bought a set called "Rakshasas" that contained two weird-looking creatures, one of which was a lizard guy and the other of which looked like a humanoid elephant. It was then that I concluded that rakshasas could look like any sort of animal, not just tigers, and I've long had a hard time adapting to the New Order introduced in 3e on this particular point.
In retrospect, I know now that it was momentary faddishness that allowed tabletop RPGs and video games to co-exist peaceably in the same store without explicitly catering to a "geek culture." That's only natural, I suppose, because there was no self-awareness of such a thing in the early 80s. There were geeky things, to be sure -- being a D&D player may have been faddish then but it still wasn't "cool" -- but buying them wasn't an explicit lifestyle choice. There were no paraphernalia or tchotchkes associated with gaming for sale in Games & Gadgets, just games and accessories used in actually playing them.
RPGs are no longer faddish; it's increasingly hard to find games other than D&D outside of very specialized stores these days. Interestingly, though, the mainstreaming of geekery continued apace and is now bigger than ever. As I've noted previously, this bugs me quite a bit, not merely because I think a lot of this stuff is tacky (though I do), but because the rise of geek culture has coincided with the decline of those aspects of the old culture I so enjoyed. In both gaming and literature, there's a definite trend away from the older styles and influences and that saddens me. There may not be a direct correlation between the two phenomena, but it's interesting to note nonetheless.
Games & Gadgets was eventually renamed The Electronics Boutique and stopped selling RPGs entirely. The rest is history.