People come to The Village Geek for the board games, but stay for the sense of community, drinking it in one Pokemon-themed coffee drink at a time.
“Board games are a really great way to be social,” Jed Litwiller, one of the store’s owners, said. “It’s something that you can do besides drinking or going to the movies. It’s a little more social; it’s a little more intellectual and cerebral.”
Their first location in McPherson, Kansas, has been in operation for about six years, and Litwiller has the same goal of running a clean, comfortable and convenient game store in downtown Manhattan.
The Village Geek benefits from its unique premise, eliminating most competition.
“Our biggest competitor is probably Amazon, but you’ll never match the one-on-one attention and face-to-face interaction that we provide,” Litwiller said.
Litwiller said The Village Geek strives to create an environment where a grandma bringing her grandson to buy a game and a hardcore Magic: The Gathering player can relax and feel just as comfortable, which helps welcome new players.
“We want to be a store that encourages new players,” Litwiller said. “When we host tournaments; they’re pretty casual. We schedule a lot of learn-to-play events, which helps people feel more comfortable investing their time and money into games.”
With more and more new games hitting the market, The Village Geek’s staff works to keep their inventory full of the best games.
“Right now, it’s like a fire hydrant of new games coming out,” Litwiller said. “There’s an average of ten new board games coming out a day, which is really hard to keep up with. Our goal is to have the best selection in the area and keep our finger on the pulse of gaming.”
The store provides everything new gamers need to get started, including a space to play and events to meet other people interested in the same games.
“I know a lot of people that have made really close friends through our stores, and that’s our primary mission,” Litwiller said. “We’re building a community through games.”
The Village Geek fosters close ties between people through their events, and Litwiller finds that the common interests provide a sense of community to everyone.
“There are a lot of people out there who aren’t in school, they don’t go to church or something like that, and they want a community to be a part of, and that’s what we provide,” Litwiller said. “We give people a place where they can feel like they belong.”