What goes best with an hours-long board game battle with your friends – a pale ale or more of a creamy stout?
If you enjoy board games and beer (and are old enough), the combinations could be almost endless at Gemini Games, Stoughton’s newest downtown entertainment and shopping destination.
Last month, Brianna and Tyler Fero “soft-opened” the part-game lounge, part-store, part-bar, with a grand opening and beer menu unveiling planned for late October. Gemini will offer board games, trading cards, miniatures, dice, books and accessories, along with a still-to-be determined selection of Wisconsin-made beers, ciders and snacks.
It’s been a whirlwind of activity for the couple since they moved to Stoughton in 2017. Brianna said they wanted to open a chocolate shop in town, but it “never really worked out right.”
Instead, when just the right building opened up at 193 N. Main St., it dawned on them exactly what they wanted to do.
“We’ve always liked playing games, and there’s kind of a niche market here but there isn’t a games shop,” she told the Hub last week. “We had the cash and then we found the building and everything just fell into place really quickly.”
Brianna said the couple noticed how trading card games at local retail stores would be constantly running out of supply, and “they never got restocked.”
“It was really obvious there was a need for a game shop but nobody opened one,” she said.
That quest has seemingly been solved, but there are plenty more adventures awaiting at Gemini Games, where Brianna said so far, there’s been “a lot” of interest in role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) or Magic: The Gathering. And no matter if you’re just starting out; in fact, that’s preferable.
“We’re really into teaching people, so we want to do a lot of ‘learn to play’ situations where people come in and we teach different board games or how to paint miniatures,” she said. “We really want to get (new) people involved.”
Gemini Games intends to be more than just a place to learn about and buy games, though. Tyler said the goal is to have an enjoyable gaming experience while you’re there.
“It’s pretty tough to be a brick and mortar store competing with the big box stores and Amazon,” he said. “If you want to survive these days, it’s important to offer something other than just a place to shop. That’s where a lot of mom and pop shops tend to thrive; that personal touch and friendliness people come to rely on.”
Providing a place for people to come together is the name of the game, so to speak, Tyler said, whether it’s older generations who grew up playing board games, or younger ones into a “retro” experience.
“With a lot of these folks, they’re looking for more social experiences than they’ve been getting in the past,” he said. “We live in this very digital world where people are stuck in front of the TV screen or their phones all the time, and when people get out and start doing more social things, playing board games, something tactile, it can be new and really exciting.”
And while there will be a few big screen TVs showing gaming tournaments and programs (and WiFi for devices), don’t look for too much digital entertainment — the store is “all analog” when it comes to gaming.
“We’re all board games or card games,” Tyler said.
And soon, they’ll be all-Wisconsin beer and cider, as the couple last week received its class B fermented malt beverage permit to sell by the bottle or tap. Brianna said they’re making final arrangements this week with distributors and are hoping “by the beginning of October we should have everything ready to go.”
“When you’re in your house and you have a game night going on, you want to have a beer and chill,” she said. “We want to really focus on Wisconsin-made products.”
And the store’s hours reflect its more social aspects, with no morning hours and open until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.
“We’re going to be open on the later end, because it’s more of a nighttime entertainment thing,” she said. “But we do have after school things for kids, like playing D&D every Tuesday, so we really look forward to seeing how their adventure goes.
“We’re just really excited to be a part of the community.”