Local business hosts game nights

Local business hosts game nights

McKenna Scherer, Editor-in-Chief

Everyone has heard the expression: Anyone who has a farfetched goal or dream would be guilty of following a “pipe dream.” Winning the lottery, marrying a celebrity, passing college math with a perfect A – all hopeless.

Defying the typical understanding of the phrase, Brent Nelson transformed his passion into reality by opening up his business, Pipe Dream Toys. Uniquely named, Nelson’s business opened in 2010 and has kept up with the increase in online competitors and changing times.

“We [Pipe Dream] were mostly online, and then a couple of years ago we just couldn’t compete with Amazon anymore,” Nelson said.

However, Nelson wouldn’t let his passion and business dwindle away, using intelligence and sense of community to adapt.

Back in 2010, when Pipe Dream started with a focus on miniatures and disc-golf, there was no way of knowing that the business would grow into what it has – a collaboration between two stores, gaming of all types and an entire community.

Nelson shared many of his customers and regulars with another store in the city, Riverquest. The business centered around role-playing games and had its own space for those who needed a place to play. Thus, when that store decided to sell, Nelson stepped in.

“A lot of people felt like that was their store and wanted a new place to go [when Riverquest closed]. Me and the owner worked out a deal so that we could run events here. We shared a lot of the same customers already, so now it’s an all-in-one spot instead of two,” Nelson said.

For so many people, tangible gaming creates a community and experience that reaches beyond the bounds of technology; so, arises the haven of Pipe Dream Toys – a place for buying anything from miniature models and collectibles to classic and newer board games, and playing with or against other people in person.

One of those people is Casey Kapter, a longtime customer of Pipe Dream.

“In this day and age, it’s very difficult for stores like this to survive, let alone thrive. One of the things stores can do to try and succeed in an online-dominated marketplace is establish a community that is open for anyone and everyone,”  Kapter said. “Part of why [Pipe Dream] works so well is that the people work hard to make sure we have a space to play any game that we want. We’re doing our card games over here; if people wanted to go play on the tabletops they can and we have another role-playing table that’s off in a corner too, all at the same time.”

Kapter praised the store for its ease and willingness to make sure everybody felt like they had a place to go for any of their gaming interests.

“Making everyone feel welcome is a huge benefit this store has that a lot of others don’t have. They don’t shun anyone away, they don’t have an elitism about them or anything like that and they’re very open to anyone and everyone from all walks of life – no matter what,” Kapter said.

The events of this past weekend are a perfect example of the continuous adoration for face-to-face gaming and the unique experiences offline-play offers.

On Sept. 28, from midnight to 5 a.m., the business held a “Guilds of Ravnica” pre-release, allowing players of all ages and backgrounds to get their hands on a sealed specialty pack, a week before the packs are officially released. Players got a chance to win their own Guild packs and whatever cards laid within.

Along with entry and access to the sealed pack, the event offered the opportunity to teach people how to play without having to do an official round, it was all for fun.

Over the weekend the pre-release and gaming event continued, again on Saturday and one last time on Sunday.

Pipe Dream has sales and events going on all the time, and there are even deals for playing at the store, including 30 percent off Topper’s Pizza orders that are made to the Pipe Dream store and a $3 or a two-for-$5 board games section that has Scene It?, Othello and  other classic games. Plus, every Friday night the store holds “Friday Night Magic” events.

The weekend of Oct. 5, the business is hosting a draft weekend for the same game, Guild of Ravnica, where players pass the decks around and draw out different cards to see which cards they get. Leagues can run for weeks or months depending on what game and the interest level.

Nelson has also noticed several professors from Winona State University come in and play.

“It’s a safe environment, and this being a huge college town, I’ve had many students ask where to go if they want to play, and I say, ‘come here!’ It’s centralized, it’s safe, and you get to know everyone. But if you look for a place online to go, who knows.” Kapter said.