Fans of Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! soon will be able to purchase, sell and trade cards and get their game on in downtown Seymour.
A new retail business called The Castle Games is opening July 1 at 210 W. Second St.
Owners Tara Thomas, who was born in Seymour, and Hutton Baird are excited to give people of all ages a destination to learn, explore and further their knowledge of and interest in all kinds of multiplayer card and board games.
The front store space will be the retail section filled with shelving and display cases so customers can see merchandise before they buy.
Having a storefront provides a convenient and economical way for customers to buy cards because they don’t have to deal with shipping and handling and are only getting the cards they want.
Inventory at The Castle Games will include new, used and rare Magic, Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, card sleeves, deck holders, binders and other accessories, traditional and indie board games such as Risk, Ticket to Ride, Catan, Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity and puzzles. There also will be a library of gaming and science fiction/fantasy books and Funko Pop figures for sale.
Another room provides space for officially sanctioned gaming tournaments, and a third room will be set up for people to play Dungeons and Dragons. Thomas said she is planning to decorate the room like an ‘80s basement right out of the popular Netflix show “Stranger Things.”
The rooms will be available for groups to rent for private gaming parties.
Thomas said they also plan on having educational events where people can come in and learn how to play.
Being a community-minded person, Thomas said she hopes to work with local schools and the library to help build a gaming community and connect people with similar interests.
Moving to Seymour from San Diego, California, last month, the couple have been hard at work remodeling the inside of the building, formerly The Picket Fence antique store.
“We had come and visited last August, and we were driving around and looking at some of the places that were for lease, and I was like, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be cool to open a store here?’” Thomas said.
So they started to do some investigating to find out if there was a need for a game store in Seymour. They learned of Don’s Dugout downtown, which sells cards, but decided their store would be different, giving customers a welcoming place not just to buy but to play.
After visiting Walmart and seeing they were sold out of Magic cards and learning of a Yu-Gi-Oh! card club at the library, Thomas and Hutton came to the conclusion the local demand could support their venture.
They already have opened an online store they started in September 2019 and have been selling cards and games to people across the country.
“I wanted to see how the market worked as far as resale, so it was like a test run, and we started seeing it go up and up and up,” Thomas said.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, their online business took a hit.
“People were afraid and didn’t want to put their money into games,” she said. “But we’ve seen it pick back up. It was slow at first, but it’s coming back stronger than it was before, and it has been really cool to see that.”
There was a point during the stay-at-home orders Thomas questioned whether it was a good idea to move to a new community to start a business.
“But everything pointed to yes,” she said.
The couple love playing Magic: The Gathering, a collectible card game that Wizards of the Coast first came out with in 1993.
Each game of Magic represents a battle between wizards who cast spells, use artifacts and summon creatures as depicted on individual cards to defeat their opponents.
Players strategically build a deck of cards to use when playing.
Thomas began playing Yu-Gi-Oh! when she was 10 and was introduced to Magic when she was a teenager.
“I played very casually,” she said. “I didn’t really understand the complexities or the competitiveness of it.”
At age 20, she began playing competitively, entering invitationals.
“It was crazy to me to see that level and to see the amount of people playing and particularly the amount of money they put into it,” she said.
A competitive deck can cost hundreds of dollars, but Thomas said the cards are an investment.
As for the name of her business, Thomas, who has degrees in anthropology and archeology, said she has always loved the medieval time period.
“I’ve always wanted my own castle, so I’m building it,” she said of the store.