Biz Buzz: A look at tabletop gaming store that’s moving to new location in Rigby
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Tabletop gaming store is helping bring people together, owner says
RIGBY – Nerd Geek U, a tabletop gaming store in Rigby, will be opening next to Domino’s Pizza on West Main Street next week. The owners are moving from their current location at 119 North State Street.
The company works with game designers and distributors to bring a variety of tabletop games to eastern Idaho from all over the world. NGU is a veteran-owned gaming store that specializes in board games, card games, tabletop miniatures and role-playing games.
“Any type of game that can be played without electronics (is available) because we do not focus on video games here,” company president Mystique, the name by which she’s known to customers, tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Employees at Nerd Geek U choose their own “store name,” and that becomes their persona to co-workers, customers and members of the gaming community.
“The names usually refer to something considered to be nerdy or geeky. In my case, ‘Mystique’ comes from X-Men,” Mystique says.
Mystique prefers to keep her real name a secret and did not reveal it to us. Though the store offers a wide variety of games for sale, the real focus of the business is to create a gathering place where people can come and play games.
“We have over 100 demo games that are free for the community to come and experience. Our motto is ‘Try it before you buy it,’ “says Trash Panda, the general manager.
The idea of taking on a new persona is part of Nerd Geek U’s appeal, Mystique says. The concept has proven to be therapeutic for those who have experienced trauma.
“Different aspects of tabletop gaming allow you to take a moment away from everything that’s haunting you inside,” says Mystique. “It allows you to assume a role, play a game, and focus on something else.”
Many of the company’s shareholders are veterans as well as many of the people who frequent the store. Some of these people have difficulties connecting with other people, and Mystique says it’s inspiring to see how playing a game helps them open up and be vulnerable. It’s also proven beneficial for those with learning disabilities or other challenges, she says.
“We’ve heard of kids who were told they couldn’t play ‘Magic: The Gathering’ until they learned to read. And the child went from reluctantly reading to being able to read every single one of the cards in their deck.”
But the overarching benefit of tabletop gaming, Mystique says, is that it brings people of all ages together and builds human connections.
“A 22-year-old man will come in with his 11-year-old brother. It’s amazing to see the love they have for each other, even if they are playing against each other,” Mystique says. “Players look out for one another. If someone hasn’t been here for a couple days, they will contact each other and ask if they’re OK.”
It’s these connections that make Nerd Geek U what it is, she says, and would not exist without it. Nerd Geek U opened in December and was a response to what the owners felt Rigby needed.
“The community of Rigby is amazing and the people here are wonderful, but (there was a lack) of entertainment and wholesome, healthy things to do in the area,” Mystique says. “There are a lot of people here who enjoy tabletop gaming and people who enjoy getting together and doing things.”
Since its inception, the shop has grown to include a community of 800 or 900 people. Mystique never dreamed it would be that big, but now she’s grateful to accommodate more people in a brand new 2,600 square foot building.
“It’s two and a half times the size of our current location, which is just barely 1,000 square feet,” Mystique says.
Nerd Geek U will open at 151 West Main, Suite B on Thursday, June 13. The grand opening will take place on Saturday, June 15. During the grand opening, the store will be having a Free RPG day, where people can come in to play role-playing games. Members of the staff and community will be on hand to teach people how to play. They’ll also be hosting a Warhammer 40K tournament. They’re hoping to have cosplayers come in the store in full regalia to interact with customers.
Mystique says they’re also looking to open a second store soon, and are seriously looking at Rexburg as the next location.
Nerd Geek U maintains evening hours to accommodate the work schedules of their customers. Its hours of operation are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, with a closing time of 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Expanded hours on the weekend include 2 to 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
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