Gaming store takes over building formerly occupied by local newspaper
REXBURG – When the Rexburg Standard Journal moved from its building at 23 South 1st East several months ago, John Stevens thought it was a good fit for his business concept.
He and his partners opened Blue Light Lobby, an electronic and tabletop gaming store, in early November. Stevens describes it as a PC cafe where people pay a fee to use “high-end gaming computers” to play video games with friends.
“It’s very popular in other countries, not so much in the U.S.,” Stevens says in a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com.
Long-term, he sees the business model evolving into something like a gym, where people pay a monthly fee to join a specific class or club that focuses on the game they’re most passionate about.
“There’s blocks of time where only people who are in that club can play. This is to encourage a community to grow around a common interest, whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons, Chess or other board game, certain computer games or video games,” he says.
Stevens says it’s off to a good start, but there are many in the area who aren’t aware they exist yet. He’s hoping to change that.
The idea for Blue Light Lobby was conceived about a year ago when Stevens and his friend, Ayden Rennaker, moved to Rexburg from Provo, Utah and started doing online marketing for business owners. Together, they formed a business and after about six months, realized marketing for other businesses had its frustrations.
“They don’t always understand the big picture and we have no control over it,” Stevens explains.
Slowly, they started veering away from taking on more clients. Marketing jobs started to slow down the more they downsized, but they still had all this computer science knowledge and were eager to use it somehow.
They both had been playing video and other games for a long time and enjoyed it and thought there might be a market for some type of business in Rexburg revolving around that idea. As they started looking into it, they learned there were already a few gaming stores in town, but none that focused on video games.
They spent a great deal of time trying to figure out their business model but ultimately decided the best course of action was to just do it.
“We happened to get lucky and find (this building). We’d gotten word they were leasing this space the old newspaper had been using and we thought it was a great location,” says Stevens.
There were several things they liked about the building. One reason was its close proximity to the Brigham Young University-Idaho campus and the parking space on the south side. There was also an abundance of power circuits along the walls because it had been used to print newspapers, and they needed that to house a bunch of computers.
They signed a lease and opened the business the first week of November.
“It worked out nicely,” Stevens says in retrospect. “Little things fell into place and it just came together.”
Since launching, Stevens says they’ve built a sizable customer base, but the numbers spike when they host weekly gaming events, like Super Smash Bros. tournaments.
They’re hoping to continue to grow and help others enjoy this medium in “a way that’s healthy and meaningful.”
“We both have a lot of friends in school who have dropped out and play video games all day long. That’s a shame and a big problem,” Stevens says. “We want to make a social scene … that facilitates (a community of people coming together to enjoy a similar interest).”
He and his partners have several ideas they’re tossing around and they’re excited to refine and implement them. They’re also looking forward to partnering with other businesses to offer discounts and other perks for customers.