Kyle Fehr stands behind the counter of The Game Hub, chatting with a customer.
“I haven’t seen you forever,” he says.
“Yeah, it’s been a while,” the customer replies, an Xbox remote in his hand.
“Like six months,” Kyle replies as he checks him out at the register. “It’s good to see you!”
Kyle’s owned The Game Hub for ten years now, and he’s gotten to know his customers. “I wanted to be a teacher,” he says, “but went a different direction. I fell in love with running a business. But it’s cool to see people grow up and keep coming in.”
As he chats, his daughter pulls white sticker off a label sheet and puts it on his hoodie.
“What you doing?” he says kindly. “Are you putting stickers on my back?”
“No, she replies, then waits for him to turn around before putting another one on.
In the past ten years, The Game Hub has served as a place for people to go and enjoy a good game. Pre-COVID, it hosted regular Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and Yu-Gi-Oh! nights. And anyone could come and play on family game night, where families were welcome to come and play one of the hundred board games lining the walls.
Then COVID hit, and everything changed. All the game nights stopped. Kyle, always an optimist, used the shutdown to remodel the store and make it more accessible. “We’ve sold so many more board games since COVID,” he says, as his daughter sneaks another sticker on his back. “Are you putting stickers on me?”
“No,” she replies again. “Don’t tell him about the stickers,” she whispers to us.
Kyle continues. “I think that people underestimated the importance of face-to-face social interaction in their lives. People need connection.”
In light of that, Kyle has made the game section of the store easy to understand and broken down into sections: New to the Hobby, Family Fames, Kid’s Games, Small Games, Intermediate Games. Anyone from a young parent to an involved RPG junkie will feel at home. And with more families together now, a new game is a great way to pass time.
A group of young men walk over to one of the game racks, search for a few seconds, and return with a copy of Settlers of Catan. “We’ve been looking for this,” he says, as he pulls cash out of the wallet. “I can’t wait to play it.”
Kyle rings him up as his daughter puts another sticker on his back.
“You are putting stickers on me!” he smiles and pulls off his hoodie, revealing a red “Obey Cthulhu” T-shirt. He looks at the hoodie, covered in white stickers. “That’s a lot!”
“I’m building a map,” his daughter smiles, and begins peeling them off.
Kyle begins to share about some of his favorite games. He talks with his hands, and when he’s excited, he speaks more quickly. “It started when I got a copy of Ticket to Ride from a distributor. I didn’t even want to try it, but I took it home, and told my wife we had to play a stupid game with trains. An hour later, I was hooked.” His eyes smile behind his mask. “It’s been a fantastic, horrible spiral since then.”
He turns to look at the wall of games, “It’s been fun playing them.”
I ask him about a game I’m interested in, and he eagerly begins explaining, comparing games to similar other ones. He’s an encyclopedia of knowledge, and I’ve soon picked one out to take home. We chat a bit more as he rings me up.
Meanwhile, his daughter puts one more sticker on his back.
The Game Hub is a great place to pick up a holiday gift. From Cards Against Humanity to King of Tokyo, you’re sure to find something unique.
The Game Hub
9800 CA-53, Lower Lake, CA 95457
Open 12-9 weekdays, 12-6 weekends