|Fantasy Flight Retailer Spotlight | Published 07 July 2011|
All over the country retailers are working hard to build up the hobby game industry. Last week we introduced you to a New Hampshire-based retailer; today we will be highlighting Chicago’s Alexander Dunning and his store Chicagoland Games: Dice Dojo!
The Dice Dojo is a store that supports its community, and is supported back in return. Through this partnership this store has become a positive local hangout with a large variety of options for customers to choose from. Let’s hear from Alexander!
Chicagoland Games: Dice Dojo
A return to mom and pop
Hello, everyone! We are Chicagoland Games: Dice Dojo, Chicago’s largest and favorite local game store. We have board games, roleplaying games, and miniatures, but more importantly, we have play space. In fact, half of our store is dedicated to play space. There are tons of tables for you to chill and game with your frenemies.
One of the primary inspirations behind the store was the idea of being a functional play space. My partner and I grew up going to game stores in the 1980s when it was the norm for every shop to be both a retail and game space. Unfortunately, this stopped being true as gaming became more corporate and less mom and pop. We firmly believe that providing an arena for people to try new games, show off what they have, and play old favorites is a vital part of any gaming community.
The wall of games
Did we mention that most of our events are free? We want people to come in, hang out and try any of our 700 board games on the demo wall. 700 titles happen to also make it the largest demo game library in the Midwest. This for you Fantasy Flight fans means we have nearly every title they have in print and many no longer in print available for play. What could be better than playtesting a game before picking it up?
We initially seeded the library with our own personal collections of about 100 games. However, from there it absolutely exploded. Game companies have been very generous with donations and promos and most importantly fully one third of our collection belong to store regulars. These people choose to keep copies of their own games in the shop in order for everyone to play. This is a unique aspect of our shop and speaks volumes about the type of people who game here.
We had people come in and donate ancient titles from our childhood such as Heroquest and even Myth Fortunes. I really can’t express how impressed and surprised I am by how our customers have helped our massive library grow. While we boast we have every FFG title on our demo wall, there has been times where we were missing a title. During these times one of our guests would buy the missing game, play it in the store, and then on their way out say they wanted to donate it to the library so that it is not only here for their future use but for the future use of our other guests as well. What other business in the world has that kind of customer loyalty?
We also look forward to conventions where we try to snag advance copies of games to fluff our library. Our guests are already foaming at the mouth to try out what we brought back from Origins. Just think what it will be in a few more months? Our goal is to hit 1200 by next year!
Something for everyone
We do everything we can to host the greatest variety of events possible for our customers, gaming clubs, and more. Our most popular reoccurring event is our weekly board game night which is a free event that lasts from 6 pm until after midnight on Wednesday. This is a BYOB event that is well attended by everyone from twenty-something euro gamers to old school grognards looking for someone with whom to play their favorite war games. The night is also an excellent opportunity to play longer and more hardcore games like Fantasy Flight’s Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game, or Twilight Imperium.
Of course Friday nights are dominated by card gamers including Magic: The Gathering and Living Card Games. Our weekend visitors love coming to our space to play something like Warhammer or get their Deathwatch groups together as we have tables ready for them. One of our most popular weekend activities is when we highlight a new board game before it comes out. Recently our Mansions of Madness and Star Trek Expeditions parties were huge, and had more people showing up than we could possibly accommodate.
We have had published game designers come in and hang out and we constantly have enthusiasts playtesting their prototypes with us. All of these things have led to an awesome and dynamic gaming environment. You can come in on a Tuesday and sit down with a published roleplaying writer and play with them, or maybe challenge a state or champion card player who makes our store their home shop. We also have become a hub for the tabletop war gaming community and constantly host large Warmachine and Warhammer events.
In addition to our weekly board game, card game, and roleplaying events we have also hosted a full on theatrical production in house. We have had several different theatre companies do staged readings in our shop, usually catering to some sort of gaming-related themes. The last one was called Galactic Orphans and was about video game players.
We have been actively involved in our neighborhood over the last two years. Our open play space has become an early afternoon hang out for teens and young adults before going back home to finish schoolwork. We sponsor several high school gaming clubs and even supply staff to actually run the clubs and teach the games. This has given us a great deal of respect in the city and won us great praise and commendations.
Our greatest work has been with Neighborhood Nights which is a program set up to do outdoor activities in at-risk areas to curb violence and show kids there are lifestyles other than gangs. Our work involved bringing games to the areas and really trying to stimulate a positive experience. For this we were granted a reward by our community for Community Business of the Year and an award by the chamber of commerce here as Community Minded Business of the Year. The city has really turned out to support us and that has been the best award; it is difficult to lose with eight million people behind you.
A helpful device
We also have a Fantasy Flight Media Center that you can use to watch previews of new and old games, learn rules, hear interviews and all that jazz. At our store not only can you watch a video about the game, you can grab it off our wall, look it over, even play right here in the store.
We keep our Fantasy Flight games surrounding our Media Center. There is nothing cooler than seeing a customer walk into the store and look to their right and see a video playing about a new game they know nothing about. Sometimes the musical score of Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game grabs someone’s attention, then they start browsing and asking questions.
Recently with HBO’s Game of Thrones popularity the A Game of Thrones: The Card Game tutorial has been great in showing people step-by-step how to play with the Core Set, and then after they are immediately asking for real life demos from our wall. This cool device provides all sorts of advantages not offered by any other game company. It is a major leap forward in the development of game marketing. We even use it to train new employees on FFG titles.
Finally, we just wanted to say that we are frequently open well past our posted hours. After all, what is sleep when you can be playing board games until 2am? Trust us your boss, wife, husband, or overlord will never know. Whatever sort of gamer you are, you will find what you are looking for at the Dojo!
Thanks, Alexander! Make sure to keep watch for our next Retailer Spotlight article.
If you are interested in visiting one of these great game store locations, keep reading to find one in your local area, or see if a local store has already been mentioned. If you are a retailer who is interested in participating in our Retailer Spotlight and having your store featured or if you are interested in more information, please contact [email protected].
This is an awesome store. I live in Racine, WI, but have made the trip south several times for Vampire tournaments. A couple times I had enough time to try a game from the wall. It was a lot of fun and has lead to some great purchases for my own games closet.
As a new Game of Thrones LCG player, I'm looking forward to finding out what the store has been doing with that game too.