Maybe it’s been a while since you counted your Monopoly winnings, guessed Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick, or got stuck in Candyland’s molasses swamp, but it’s possible a recent weekend involved a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, Settlers of Catan, or Magic: The Gathering.
Board games and table-top role playing games have made a comeback in recent years, and with so many options available, how does one know which game to buy? Ballard’s Card Kingdom is to the rescue with a new location in Bellevue.
Mox Boarding House, situated on Bel-Red Road just a few blocks from the soon-to-be Spring District, sells “everything but video games,” says Dan Tharp, who manages the Ballard store. The store is floor-to-ceiling packed with board, card, and dice games. With a full-menu restaurant attached, Mox is not only a store, but a location gamers can spend hours eating and playing.
“The store itself can be daunting, so the staff is prepared for that,” Tharp says. “Their main job is to learn as much as they can about as many games as possible.”
Employees are trained to anticipate overwhelmed customers, and they are prepared to ask shoppers open-ended questions to help discover what will best suit the shopper so they end up with a game they love.
“We would much rather connect you with a $20 game you’re going to love than sell you a $60 game that you play once,” Tharp says.
To help shoppers with the process, MOX has hundreds of games in its library that customers can test for free in the store to ensure they will like the game before they spend money on it.
Business has steadily grown since the store opened in December, Tharp says.
“When we did our grand opening in Ballard, it was such a new concept for people that it didn’t hit right away. With Bellevue, the customer base already seems to be there. The next step is reaching the non-gamers and families, and that will take a while to build, but it seems a good start for us.”
Part of the difference between the two locations is Bellevue’s large restaurant. Tharp says that customers first identified the Ballard location as a game store, with a place to get a beer and food as a secondary feature. The Bellevue location has experienced the reverse.
“We’re getting a lot of people coming in and enjoying food, and then realizing it’s a legit game store,” Tharp says.
The restaurant is fitted with large farm-style tables, and even the booths are large. Big enough for four or six people to enjoy a meal and beer while playing a board game? You betcha.
“Everyone who has discovered us this far has been absolutely blown away and loved the experience,” says Mox manager Jim Bitzer. “The restaurant means you don’t have to leave the building for anything.”
The folks at Mox are trying to bring like-minded people together to have as much fun as possible. To accomodate as many people as possible, the store is open from 10 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
“For us, it’s all about trying to include as many people as possible, and understand that people have disaparate work schedules,” Bitzer says. “We want to make sure everyone has as much time as possible to enjoy everything.”
With large retail space, a full-menu restaurant, 23 varieties of beer and hard cider on tap, and a tournament room that seats more than 100, it seems MOX Boarding House is well on its way to providing as many people with as much fun as possible.