New tabletop game store arrives in the city of Niagara
Fri Oct 8, 2021 10:20 PM
By Michael DePietro
Whether a budding adventurer seeks to explore the deepest dungeons of the mythical Land of Faerûn or cross the Outer Rim avoiding Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire, one thing is certain: he will have to stock up on the right equipment, in supplies – and lots and lots of dice.
Fortunately, for those near the city of Niagara, Red Dragon’s Hoard, a new tabletop game store at 2105 Military Road, has them covered. From card games like Magic the Gathering to popular role-playing games (RPGs) like Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), Pathfinder and Shadowrun, one can find just about anything they need to play, including books, cards. , painted / unpainted minis, pre-painted sets and terrains, maps and, of course, dice.
Originally opened at the end of August, the store was only recently decorated with fantastic signage on the front (commissioned by Buffalo Signmakers) with the store’s logo, a little red dragon drawn by owner Rich Mease and letters from his wife, Nadezdea.
For Mease, the store is like a dream come true. He’s been a huge fan of role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons since he first played as a teenager, albeit against his mother’s will.
“I think I was about 15 when I first played D&D,” Mease said. “My friend introduced him to me and said, ‘You have to play this game!’ My mom was religious freak, so she told me to stay away from that, so I stayed away from that. (Finally) I said, ‘OK, you know what? I’ll give it a shot. I just wanted to see what it was about. I played it and have been hooked ever since. And once I found that out, I also started to jump into Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. So my friends and I were playing both at the same time and we never stopped.
The game remained a large part of his life and even became a point of connection while he and Nadezdea dated.
“When we were dating, I was like, ‘You have to play with me (laughs).’ And now she’s playing; she’s got her own dice, bought her own minis for her character, “Mease said. Even the couple’s kids are starting to take an interest in the hobby.
But while gambling has long held an important place in Mease’s life, he fully thanks Nadezdea for urging him to make his long-held passion his profession.
“It was my wife who suggested it. She said to me: “You are still playing; why don’t you open a store? ‘ And that went on like the last two years, ”Mease said with a laugh. So, at the beginning of this year, after the death of her mother and the loss of her job due to COVID-19, the idea started to gain ground.
“I had no incoming income, so I’m like, ‘What am I going to do for the money now? “… So my wife said again,” Why don’t you start a business? And I was like, ‘You know what? It can’t hurt, can it? I mean, I didn’t really want to go back to (my old job). So there it is, ”he said. “I would say that in April my wife and I were like, ‘OK, let’s try. We got the funds we needed, and then finding housing was probably the hardest part – finding cheap enough housing in a good neighborhood. … (Then) we had to do a lot to prepare the place. … We had to add exit signs and lights; had to have an architect (check out) this place. So that was probably the longest and most difficult part of it all. “
Opening a store in the midst of a pandemic posed its own challenges, including finding certain items to stock the store.
“A few things that I tried to order, companies said they had in stock; but when the shipments arrived there were things missing or back orders, like pokemon cards. I tried to get them and they got nothing and it’s like ‘Are you kidding me? (Laughs). So, I have a lot of new pre-order and I should arrive in November. So there are some things that are difficult to understand right now, ”Mease said.
Despite the challenges, however, he said he knew he didn’t want to go the online-only route.
“Everyone does it online. We wanted brick and mortar, ”Mease said. “The goal was for people to actually have a place to play – that’s what it was all about. We made it so that people could come in and play, even if they wanted to bring their board games from home just to play with their friends here.
This welcoming ‘let’s play’ atmosphere is evident from the moment you walk into the store.
Amid the colorful shelves are several tables throughout the store where people can just walk in, sit down, and start playing for free. Each play area is augmented with certain themed flairs and decorations. One section, designed to invoke sci-fi and cyberpunk themes, is overlooked by autographed “Star Wars” memorabilia signed by actors David Prowse and Mark Hamill, who played Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker respectively.
But for those looking for a more private – and truly immersive – experience, Red Dragon’s Hoard offers a premium game room that can be rented. The space – which includes a large screen for laptop connectivity, fantasy-themed tapestries and swords mounted on the walls, as well as amazing sculptures and figures of some of the mythical creatures of the D&D universe – is a Dungeon Master (DM) dream.
“All of this stuff is going to continue to expand. I want it to be when people come in here, they just say, ‘Oh my gosh I want to play here,’ ”Mease said. “People can pay and have the atmosphere they are looking for. And in the future people will be able to pay and I will make DM games for them.
Going forward, Mease said the store will also run tournaments for popular games like Warhammer and Magic: The Gathering, and he’s also looking to develop DnD tournaments where people can pay for a character, sit back, and have a chance to win gift cards for the store when they reach milestones or accomplish certain things. A calendar of events is available on the company’s website, www.reddragonshoard.com/.
When asked about the RPGs that he and other fans find so exciting, Mease replied that they are friends who get together and find respite from the troubles of the world. that surrounds them.
“I think the thing about it is it’s a board game with freedom and it’s an escape from what’s going on,” he said. “So many arguments with people on the Internet; arguments about political opinions and everything. Here, we can sit down, we can play, we can throw it all aside for a while, and it gives a moment of relaxation for people to have fun.
“It’s a reason to come together, especially now with the pandemic. People have been so far apart for a year that people don’t want to stay at home anymore. Like, “Let’s go do something, let’s go somewhere; let’s play a game. ‘ “
For the curious but uninitiated to RPGs, Mease said he hopes they will come so he can show them this magical experience (pun intended) firsthand.
“I would probably show them an example of a game. Better to show them than to tell them,” he said. “I mean, one of the best things is it’s cooperative. With other games, competitive games, people can get really mad. Some people go as far as winning and not worrying about anything else. With the cooperative game, I help you, you help me, now I was jumping at the table; to laugh, to joke; get along and have fun. It’s a date. It’s like anything one would like, like going to a bar or going to a friend’s house to watch football. It’s the same thing. You go there to hang out with your friends and have a good time. And that’s the most important thing in role-playing games is to have a good time.
For more information visit www.reddragonshoard.com/ or call 524-3040.