In Defense of a Dream: Interview with Swords and BoardsJanuary 18, 2019 Off By TK
Welcome back, adventurer! Last week we visited DriveThru RPG and checked out three beginner friendly RPGs! This week, we walked through the shiny gates of a new FLGS just outside of Louisville Metro in northern Kentucky, Sword and Boards. Joshua and Jacob Beal have captured their dreams and laid them out on the tables for the community to enjoy.
Let’s get to know them, shall we?
Has it always been a dream of yours to own a tabletop game store?
Yes, even if we didn’t think we ever could. We’ve always been gamers through and through, whether it was Dungeons & Dragons or Settlers of Catan, but owning a gaming store never seemed like a possibility. So, Josh pursued accounting and I engineering, but when the stars aligned on Swords & Boards becoming a reality, we knew it was time to take a chance.
How long did you pursue your other careers before taking the chance?
We were both on different career paths for years, almost two decades actually. But we just weren’t fulfilled in those positions. With the urging and support of our families we were able to take this leap. Josh was able to take on full time at the shop while I’m still working another job as a poker dealer. Hopefully not for long though.
So the stars finally aligned and you were able to follow your dreams. Did you encounter any unforseen obstacles to opening and running your own game store? If so, what were they?
Several obstacles really. We were well versed in retail having both worked as managers in the field, but running your own business is a different kind of animal. Location was always a big deal for us, finding the right spot in a town like Radcliff was key. Start up capital is always tight for a fledgling business considering we’re not independently wealthy. We’ve been very fortunate though. Being from this area and having a pulse on the community has been instrumental in our early going.
Did you ever get the sense that a gaming store would be unsuccessful, unwelcome, or unnecessary in a town as small as Radcliff?
To be honest, we were a little worried. With Radcliff being a smaller city, you wonder if the market can support such a business. However, we’d seen a similar business succeed in the area before, and with the recent injection of money in Ft. Knox, we believed this was the best possible time. As for unwelcome or unnecessary, never! Radcliff has always been a welcoming and diverse city due to its proximity to Ft. Knox and people are always looking for exciting entertainment in all walks of life. We provide a unique kind of service and fun atmosphere that we hope will help this area thrive. So far, we’ve felt incredibly welcomed and embraced by the area.
Any advice for people who are used to gaming at home and would love to attend events…but aren’t quite sure where to start?
Absolutely. First and foremost, don’t feel pressured! This is a judgement free zone for all ages and gaming types. We’ve had several players who are used to only playing at home with friends or on their computer, but once they come in and see the friendly, fun gaming environment we have cultivated, they’re very happy they came out. We have a great demo section for players who want to try a new game or demo something before they buy. Speaking of selection, try new things! So many gamers have only played board games, or trading card games, or role-playing games. Variety is the spice of life when it comes to gaming. We want people to try all kinds of games, which is why we offer something different every night of the week. Break out of your comfort zone, let us show you a new game, and make some new friends in the process.
Something different every night of the week? Do you also offer special events and parties?
Yes! We have a full calendar of events on our website and Facebook. We also hosted our first annual New Year’s Eve Gaming Extravaganza in which we had upwards of 35 people in attendance with door prizes and a raffle. We are very open to having parties for other events such as a private gaming group or birthdays.
Is there a game release that you’re particularly looking forward to carrying in 2019?
Several! But one in particular is Wingspan. It’s a board game about attracting birds to your aviary. You read that right. Different birds allow for different actions which can combo together for a one of a kind colonization game experience. From a great company like Stonemaier games, with a unique theme and amazing artwork, I cannot wait to get this into the store.
I see you both play Magic: The Gathering! What’s your favorite deck build?
I have been a red and white player ever since I started playing years ago. Go Boros!
What are your top 3 small studio or independently produced TTRPGs?
Dragon Age by Green Ronin. Love the lush and brutal world Thedas. FATE by Evil Hat. Whether it’s just core FATE or Dresden, I love the idea of being able to fail a roll and still succeed with some minor or major consequence. Lastly, love me some West End Games. Everything from their Star Wars to Men in Black RPGs were such a big part of my adolescence.
Not sure if all of those qualify as small or Indie. Also, Monster of the Week! Forgot to mention that one.
Finally, do you have any tips for people looking to pursue their tabletop-related dreams?
Our field is one of wonderment and fantasy. Having a passion for the material is everything, so if you are, you’re on the right path. That passion will exude from you, and make people more excited about the games you are attempting to promote. That being said, be prepared to sell games you don’t love, which is much more difficult. Treat your gamers with respect and really get to know them. Interpersonal communication is dying one tweet at a time, so get players excited to put their phones away for an hour and enjoy a face to face conversation with friends over a new game.
That’s all for this week, adventurers! Next week we’ll be looking at some tips for one of the most intimidating ventures in our community: streaming your first TTRPG session.
About The Author
TK is a speculative fiction writer and part-time eldritch horror. They can be found as a cast member of The Demonplague, Unearthly Twilights, The Land Between Two Rivers, and Hell’s Belles on the Don’t Split the Podcast, WebDM, and Dungeons & Dragons networks, respectively. Their gothic and cosmic horror stories can be found at tkjwrites.com and very soon in print in a collaborative set of short stories and comics with artist Kayla Cline. TK themself can be found on Twitter @tkjoinsthefray.