With International Tabletop Day around the corner, we’re counting down the days to the big celebration by highlighting friendly local gaming stores, their owners, and their awesome stories. Be sure to find an ITTD event near you so you can enjoy the festivities in your community.
Building and supporting a gaming community just comes naturally to Little Shop of Magic’s John Coviello. Way back in 1990, when he was deployed overseas where gaming materials were hard to come by, he would order game supplies for himself and his fellow Marines. “It wasn’t a business per se, as my goal was to get games in the hands of the troops,” he remembers. But just a few years later, in 1994, gaming did become a business for John–and after 23 years Little Shop of Magic is still going strong in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The gaming industry (and game shops in general) have obviously changed over the past 20-plus years, and through it all, Little Shop of Magic has thrived because of John’s commitment to community building. “The overall quality and professionalism of stores and publishers is leaps and bounds above the level of the industry thirty years ago. Even though games are flashier, game stores are larger and prettier, the one thing that has remained constant is the human element. Our hobby fulfills the basic need for human interaction: as our world becomes increasingly plugged in, that need becomes harder and harder to fulfill through traditional, established methodologies,” John says.
“We offer a welcoming environment that fosters the building of lifelong friendships,” John continues. That might actually be an understatement: a couple met playing games at the store and invited the staff to their wedding, people buy Christmas gifts for John and company because they consider them family, and some shoppers know the staff so well they’ve crafted greeting cards for them based on their individual gaming preferences.
“We also dedicate a vast amount of resources to community building and organized play support with a large gaming area, charity drives, educational campaigns, and other programs designed to bring people together,” John states. The store has seating for 100 customers to settle in and play games, tons of retail space with games, supplies, and geeky clothes, and they’re even adding a cafe! “Basically, our fans never want to leave, and we plan on keeping it that way,” John explains.
If the fans do leave, they can always make a virtual stop at Little Shop of Magic’s incredibly robust website, which goes above and beyond store info to include info about upcoming game releases, industry news and even videos and podcasts. When asked why they put so much time and effort into the website, John replied, “Our job doesn’t end with the sale: we want to make sure that the support is there to make the community thrive, growing the industry and keeping it healthy for generations of gamers to enjoy. Finding the time is indeed a challenge but it is something we are very passionate about, and that makes the burden of a long work week easier to handle.”
Little Shop of Magic will be celebrating ITTD in-store with giveaways, a livestream, and other activities and they encourage people to stop by and check it out. “We welcome everyone who has recently found their inner geek.”
If you don’t live in the Las Vegas area, you can visit the aforementioned website for game news and more.
Have games helped you make new friends or find your community? Tell us all about it in the comments!
Image credits: Little Shop of Magic