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Crazy Squirrel Game Store
Monopoly, you always hated. It's great when you're winning, but you've never been lucky with the dice and inevitably you end up having to sell off all those railroads to pay rent on Park Place. There's no coming back from that.
Risk is better, because there's some strategy at least, but a good game can last a month and a half, and who needs that level of commitment?
Still, you appreciate the fun to be had hosting a solid game night and when Jennifer Ward starts talking about “serious board gaming” you want to know more. “You probably don't recognize 80 percent of the games on the shelves,” says Ward, who opened Crazy Squirrel Game Shop with her husband Scott Martin last week. “We sell the games where you have to sit around a table and talk and have fun.”
This is a gamer's store, which means it has a bit of everything — save for the electronic stuff. There are kid's and board games, collectible card (think Magic) and role playing games (D&D) and tactical miniatures. There's a cabinet full of dice — the 8 and 20-sided kind. There's also a game room in back where the store hosts events six days a week. Tuesdays are for tactical minis, games like Warhammer (Fantasy or 40k), Warmachine, Malifaux, or Firestorm Armada. Thursday is board-game night. Fridays is for Magic.
See the website for the full calendar.
“We want this to be the community center for gamers,” Ward says.
Understand that Ward and Martin are gamers themselves. Ward learned to spell playing Boggle and Scrabble. She's lost count of the number of board games she has at home, is happy that store is open because she can bring some of them down to use as demos.
Martin writes for the gaming blog Gnomestew.com, was part of its just-released book of plot guides for game masters. He and his dad have shopped at the Game Preserve in the Tower District since the store opened, and that place is an institution.
So, the pair created the kind of place where they'd want to spend money, a place where gamers don't just feel like shoppers. It's a level of interaction they started building long before the store opened. Ward used to work in social media, so the store had a website and a Facebook page long before it had shelves or inventory, or even walls.
That communication makes the shop a special place, says Brian Dalby, who Ward calls one of the founding squirrels. He volunteered to paint walls and build shelves to help the place open. Ward and Martin understand and respect gamers, and are always asking questions and looking for input, he says.
They're willing to give input, too.
A game is an investment, Ward says, and she wants to make sure you have fun playing. So, you can demo just about game in the store. If Ward and Martin haven't played the game, they may join you just to check it out.
And if Dalby is there he'll probably be in, too. His game of choice is WarMachine, which he keeps with him always and plays whenever his job and home life don't get in the way, but, “I'll try anything once," he says.