Comfort, fun key focus of The Gathering Games
The last thing a gamer, be it video or board game, wants is to be bumped into while they make their move to claim victory for themselves or their team. That is why Darrel Lauman, 42, and his friends Travis, 37, and Gunnar Schachtner, 25, decided to open The Gathering Games in downtown New Richmond to ensure they and anyone else who wants to play at their new store will feel like they are at home.
“We played at other board game stores that tended to crowd their players in along with their shoppers, which we really didn’t like,” Lauman said. “We feel that the people who come in to buy games aren’t always going to be the people who come in to play. So, why would you put tables in front of all the games and force the two groups of people together?”
Among the many reasons the trio thought now was the right time to open their own game store is the recent resurgence in the popularity of board and card games and cafes that cater to gamers.
“We had been talking about how cool it would be to have our own game store and then we saw an editorial in the New Richmond News over the summer about how board games are making a resurgence … and we thought that was a good sign,” Travis said.
The new store will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and will host a grand opening weekend starting Saturday, Nov. 5, with a ribbon-cutting party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will feature food on Saturday and giveaways/drawings throughout the weekend.
“As a player, I want to be able to sit down at a table and not be shoulder-to-shoulder with the people next to me, or have the person behind me bumping into my chair all the time,” Lauman said. “We designed the entire store with comfort in mind. We want people to feel comfortable when they come here to play.”
Visitors can enjoy Wild Badger food by order from a digital kiosk on the wall by the main counter. The food will be prepared and delivered to the game store when it is ready.
“We could fit around 150 people in here if we wanted to, but we have a hard limit of 70, although we could fit 78 or 80 if we move a few things around,” Schachtner said. “We just set it up so that when you come in it is warm and inviting.”
The old Jet’s kitchen has been transformed into a break area for gamers called the “Heroes Haven,” which will have vending machines, a snack machine and a coffee maker.
“There is a board game resurgence going on right now and this area is really primed for alternative entertainment,” Schachtner said. “Unless you are over the age of 21, the things you can do for entertainment are very limited.”
With 50 years of experience in gaming between the three, Schachtner feels confident that they can help anyone pick a game they will enjoy from the many games the store will have in stock for purchase or for play.
“Our overall inventory is based on entertainment,” Schachtner said. “We have games that can take you 15 minutes or can last you weeks. Our idea for the store is not to just have people buy the products we are selling, but to also make it a place where people want to come and play games.”
The store’s inventory of games for sale will include a few that can be purchased at big retail stores, but most of them are less mainstream, but just as fun. Games will be available for checkout at the front desk, and players bring the game back before they leave. The guys will also help you set up and explain games if you need the help.
“There is a lot of local talent, even just in this area. There are even a lot of Minnesota- and Wisconsin-based talent that have campaigns set up on Kickstarter,” Lauman said. “It is really nice to highlight that and support those local people.”
The one big issue the trio is running into is trying to figure out the best way to regulate the games people might try to bring from home.
“The biggest issue we have right now is how do we deal with people bringing in outside board games, since it would be hard to monitor the games that they are bringing in,” Schachtner said. “It is different with Magic cards and those kind of sealed products that we know if you have open cards you brought them yourself.”
The group also plans to set up themed or event nights where people can come in to learn how to play certain games or to play specific games, like Magic the Gathering, against friends and strangers alike.
“If you want to come in during instruction night, we will have a selection of board games that we are willing to show how to play that night. And we will switch those games out, too, so they won’t be the same games every time,” Lauman said. “And those instructional games could be anything from chess to Eclipse.”
For more information about the store and to keep up with its events and themed nights, visit the store’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thegatheringgames.