At 4,000 square feet, the All About Games store at 7079 W. Overland Road in Boise is larger than the home of Bruce DeLaney, the shops half-owner.
Then again, I dont have 50 people over every night to play games, he said.
All About Games doesnt sell video or computer games, which insulate players from each other through avatars or virtual realities. The games that drive its business are social. Half of the stores floor space is a forum where Boise gamers meet to play everything from chess to Magic: The Gathering.
The shop hosts scheduled game events every day. On Wednesdays, All About Games hosts league and casual Warhammer 40,000, a war game played with paintable resin miniatures the store sells. The typical Warhammer 40K product ranges from $2 to $10. Larger and more elaborate figures cost more, troopers less. A starter box with two armies costs about $100.
It provides a safe place for people to meet other gamers, DeLaney says. Yesterday afternoon we had 25 people here playing Pokemon.
The most popular games can have secondary market value the rare Magic: The Gathering card Black Lotus sold in 2005 for $20,000 and have sophisticated rules. These attributes have contributed to DeLaneys large adult clientele. DeLaney says he has some customers who are in their 60s.
The older you get, the more games we have for you, he says.
DeLaney moved to Boise in 1990 from Cleveland after earning a degree at Case Western Reserve University. He worked as a high-energy physicist for Micron Technology Inc. before he and his wife opened the Rediscovered Books shop (now at 180 N. 8th St.) in Boise.
I left Micron because I wanted so start a new chapter in my life, he says. Micron was very good to me. I loved the people that I worked with and the work that I was able to do. But I was ready for something else.
Meanwhile, Ken Sommerville, Joel Lidel and Peter Sprague opened All About Games at 23rd and Main streets.
Sommerville, who now works for Micron in Italy, later approached DeLaney about buying out Lidel and Sprague. DeLaney agreed. Now he and Sommerville each own 50 percent of the company and are equal operators.
All play at the Overland store is free. Players just bring their own cards, miniatures or other game supplies.
Kasey Koehnlein, 35, has been playing at game nights for two years. He moved to Boise from California and found game nights to be an easy way to socialize. This is one way Ive been able to find people to associate with, he says.
Koehnlein says he spends about 15 hours every week at All About Games and enjoys the easy going, familiar atmosphere. Its like Cheers, he says.
That sentiment was echoed by Trevor Brown, 23, who has been a regular for seven years. Its the easiest place to meet a bunch of people who like the same thing, he says.
Brown, who plays at All About Games three times a week, comes to relax: Here, every night is game night.
In spite of the shops stable customer base and profitability, co-owners DeLaney and Sommerville have not been content to stay in one place. All About Games has relocated twice into a succession of larger retail spaces, and opened a second location in April 2011 at 120 N. 8th St. in Boise.
In a business like this, theres a lot of temptation to play games; you have to take the business seriously as a business, says DeLaney. At a certain point, you have to ask yourself where you want to be in 20 years. I want to stretch, to see what else I can do.
The 8th Street store is a departure from its parent stores merchandise and tone. It stocks more puzzles and toys and fewer card games and collectibles. The free play offered on Overland would have been impossible at the new store because of a lack of space.
If wed tried to start a store just like this in a store like that, Im sure wed fail, DeLaney says.
A harsh economic climate and the fickleness of retail Downtown made opening a second store risky, but DeLaney says they plunged ahead anyway. With the bookstore already showing us that the customer traffic was there, it was an easy decision to open a second location for a game store, he says.
We have had to be very careful in how we spend our resources to stay healthy as a business, he says. We werent sure how many people who were going Downtown were buying retail.
DeLaney declined to disclose revenues. He says his business is profitable and growing. All About Games employs 11 people seven on Overland and four Downtown and the owners hope to keep growing.
Ken and I have discussed a number of possible expansion plans, but nothing is past the pie in the sky stage.
Harrison Berry: email@example.com