Family-Owned Local Game Stores in the Time of COVID-19

By Suzanne Hug, Owner Athoria Games


It was inevitable; the scent of new books always made me long for a fresh adventure. I’ll admit I cried when we locked the doors. Not loud ugly crying, but those soft, almost invisible tears of quiet grief for a lost future. The long banners were now resting in a corner, gathering their first layer of dust, a sad reminder of plans now also resting, and waiting for an unknown time. 


The last weekend of March was supposed to be Athoria Con 2020. As I processed refunds for our vendors and stared at the screen, I knew what hurt the most.


I was looking forward to teaching new players to cast their first Magic spells. Asking a barrage of unrelated questions to figure out their natural playstyle and color match. Are you a control freak? How do you feel about necromancy? Would you like to control a giant cat, an angel, or a dragon? Or is it all about the sick burns?


I was excited for our After Dark adventures. Sinking into fantastic characters and hoping for a crit roll, then laughing at our failures. I mourned the loss of an unknown person. A new friend, a new storyteller, an adventurer of great renown? Athoria Con promised a pause from our ordinary lives and a chance to be extraordinary. 


Now we face extraordinary times. As geeks, we’ve read these books and watched these movies. We know this is how it starts, but the ending is yet to be written. 


The phone calls started first. Gamers calling to check on us. “Will you be okay?” “How can I help?” And for once, we took the time for that conversation. Dozens of calls just to check-in, ask a question, get help on a deck or suggest an adventure. 


We have quickly learned that Athoria Games is more than a location. It is a group of people who love games and all things geek. We’re so grateful for their support and contact that those tears are long dried, and I’m only a *little* salty. We’ve delivered Worbla to our customer’s door. Created random packs of Pokemon cards for parents. And have gone back to the roots of who we are. We are gamers, we are geeks, we are friends. 


It’s still hard to walk into a darkened store. The air is still and I know we won’t be greeting anyone today. Oftentimes I don’t even turn on the lights, the sunlight is enough. As I package up an order, I miss the banter of players in the empty echoing space. It’s not forever, but it’s for now. And then the phone rings, banishing the silence and snapping me back to work. 


We’re learning to connect and have fun online. And as owners, we’re taking this time to reflect, and take inventory of how we can serve our community better. That’s what a FGLS – Family-Owned Local Game Store is, a friend, a community, and always, always, an adventure, even in the time of Corona. 


From our family to yours, stay safe and happy gaming,

Suzanne Hug aka Lady Athoria


If you’d like to show your support for Athoria Games during this time, please be sure to check out their website for many incredible products sure to entertain you and your family during these trying times. they are offering curbside pickups on orders from Monday through Friday 11am-4pm. Only on online orders made in advance!

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