Biz Buzz: Game design and retail store in Rexburg wants to give you an unforgettable experience
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Do you want to know what’s happening in the eastern Idaho business scene? We’ve got you covered. Here is a rundown of this week’s business news across the valley.
Gaming store in Rexburg provides fun experience for customers
REXBURG – Playing games is a popular pastime for many families during the holidays, and Joseph Brower of Rexburg is passionate about providing customers original games and a space to play them.
Last December, he and his partners, Stephen Gygi and Brian Grigsby, opened Binary Cocoa, a game design, manufacturing and retail store in the space behind the old New York Burrito at 10 South 1st East in Rexburg.
The business just had its one-year anniversary, and Brower noted the occasion in a Facebook post.
“A year ago today, we took our first step of opening a physical storefront. It has been quite an adventure,” he wrote on the business’s Facebook page on Dec. 2. “Without this amazing community, none of this would be possible. We love seeing the gaming community grow and are looking forward to this next year.”
Brower and his partners currently have five original tabletop games they’ve designed and created, which are sold in the store and online. Three more are in the works, which should be available in the next 30 to 60 days. One of their most requested products is a game called Mondrian, which Brower describes as a mix of Scrabble and checkers. See how it works in the video player above.
The game made it to the final four of the Ion Awards, the largest board game competition in the U.S. held annually in Utah at the SaltCon board game convention.
Another popular title is a role-playing game in the spirit of Dungeons & Dragons called Shadow Brume. It’s a haunted house escape game and is played on a 3-by-3-foot board. The team has a prototype for a portable version of the game that folds into a suitcase, which will become publicly available soon.
The trio also has an electronic arcade game in the works and they offer laser tag rental equipment and laser printing services for businesses or individuals.
Brower has been interested in games since he was a kid and started making them when he was 14.
“A lot of the games here are ideas I’ve had for a very long time, but I didn’t have the skill or the experience at the time to build it into something meaningful,” Brower tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Brower started making games professionally about 10 years ago and partnered with Gygi and Grigsby, who both live in Arizona, to open Binary Cocoa as an online company in 2019.
Brower says several things prompted them to open a physical store last year.
“When you’re designing a game, one of the hardest things is getting unbiased feedback. Your friends are always willing to test the games with you, but they are unwilling to tell you harshly what’s wrong with it,” he says.
Brower made the store available for people to come in and play games they’ve designed and provide feedback so they can refine it and turn it into a product that people enjoy.
Another reason for the storefront, Brower says, is to provide a different experience from other gaming stores and make the shopping experience less intimidating.
“A lot of games are (knockoffs of other knockoff games),” Brower explains. “One of our goals is to make games that are unique, not just from other game developers, but even among our own games.”
Brower says Binary Cocoa is also a space where like-minded people can come together and enjoy interacting with each other.
The business concept is depicted in the name.
“We knew that we were going to be making physical and digital games, so we thought on, off — binary. And then we thought chocolate because people say our games are sweet,” Brower says. “Binary Chocolate didn’t convey (the whole idea), so we (came up with) cocoa.”
(The store has free cocoa available for people who come and play games).
Brower wants to host more community events in the future and is working on making more space available downstairs. He’s hoping to continue to provide a unique experience for customers.
“We try to look for gaps in what the gaming community wants and what the area is providing,” he says. “We love interacting with the community. Seeing people rally around our ideas is a satisfying thing.”
Local bank provided capital to help create 73 new jobs in 2021
IDAHO FALLS – As businesses rebound from challenges induced by the COVID-19 recession, Idaho companies are leading the pack — a phenomenon noted by AdvisorSmith, which recently ranked Idaho as the No. 1 state for entrepreneurs in 2021.
This study examined more than 20 indicators of the health of the business environment, including funding availability, a factor that Zions Bank understands well.
The bank ranked No. 1 in U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) loan approvals in the SBA’s Boise District office during the fiscal year 2021 that ended Sept. 30. Zions Bank provided capital to help 36 Idaho businesses grow through loans totaling more than $8.2 million.
Earlier in the year, the bank also approved nearly $80 million in SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans in the state.