After 36 years downtown and 19 years in its current location, Games of Berkeley is moving to the old Tower Records site, just east of Telegraph Avenue.
“We’ve outgrown the possibilities of this space,” said Erik Bigglestone, managing owner. “I’ve wanted to do bigger events and we need more space.”
Games of Berkeley calls itself the Bay Area’s “oldest tabletop game store.” It started on Addison Street in 1980 and moved to Shattuck near University, before settling in its corner location on Shattuck and Center in 1997. The new location, 2510 Durant Ave., whose latest occupant was Earth’s Bizarre, will have just over 11,000 square feet, up from the current 8,900 square feet.
Bigglestone said that Games of Berkeley will stay open downtown until the end of the year, while the Durant store should open in the fall. The final move of everything to the new store is planned for January 2017.
The game business is growing strongly, Bigglestone said.
“People are still spending a lot of time on their phones and iPads,” he said. “But there’s gadget fatigue. People want an experience with each other. They’re really enjoying a more hands-on approach.”
Bigglestone said there had been a “renaissance in board-game design” in the last decade. There are “new classics,” like Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. Kickstarter has also been important, he said. People back new concepts and then are excited to see products end up on store shelves.
He said the new store will allow Games of Berkeley to have more ambitious game events. Even in the constrained space of its current store, Games of Berkeley has a full roster of events, ranging from a new “Locally Grown Games Sundays” to board game nights to Magic the Gathering tournaments, to Pokemon to a miniature war-game day.
“The reason I got into this business is I wanted to serve a community,” Bigglestone said. “I really like that community gathering place, but it also drives games sales.”
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