St. Albert game shop gets new digs
Location on the trail features bigger store, more parking
By: By Megan Sarrazin
| Posted: Saturday, Aug 11, 2012 06:00 am
Mission: Fun and Games opened the doors to its fourth and likely final location last week, despite a number of hurdles that put the opening in jeopardy.
The games store took over the former Krickets Cafe location along St. Albert Trail, which owner John Engel said is an upgrade from the previous home of 15 years at a strip mall off McKenney Avenue.
“This one has exposure unlike anything we’ve ever had before … It’s going to be fantastic for us to really get our name out there,” he said. “Hopefully, St. Albert will know it is home to the largest retail selection of family board and card games and puzzles – over 3,000 – in all of Canada.”
The family-owned and operated store, which opened in 1990, has moved three times with a total of five expansions at rented spaces.
Engel said renting for 22 years was reason enough for the business to finally purchase its own building.
Keys to the new location were handed to Engel at the end of March, on his 51st birthday. The moving process began just days later.
“The amount of work was mind-boggling and absolutely overwhelming,” he said. “The four months we had was barely enough.”
Transforming the space from a restaurant into a gaming haven wasn’t easy, especially with surprise repairs popping up along the way.
Aside from gutting the kitchen, removing walls, painting the building and general cleanup, Engel discovered a series of significant problems on the northwest side of the building.
“There was a serious problem with an exterior wall on the north side. We discovered a tremendous amount of water damage,” he said, adding there were also significant drainage problems outside.
The repairs took weeks and included rebuilding a section of the exterior wall, with the remainder to be rebuilt over the next two years, and lowering the earth by 10 centimetres.
Repairs are also needed on the roof, which has undergone significant wear. Engel said these repairs start this week and come with a price tag of roughly $10,000.
More than 20 volunteers helped pack up the business, with 24 to 30 assisting with demolition and renovations.
“If it wasn’t for the help of our gaming community and friends and family, I didn’t have a hope of being here for August 1,” Engel said. “We would have been at least a month behind.”
While the bulk of the move is complete, with 90 per cent of inventory moved to the new location and 80 per cent already on shelves, Engel said there is still a “tremendous” amount of backend goods to be moved.
“It’s going to be nip and tuck getting done and cleaned up by August 31 when our lease ends,” he said. “Not to mention, we need to remove walls that we put in and patch up the holes we made between the bays when we expanded twice.”
The new Mission: Fun and Games is 10-per-cent larger than the previous location and will benefit from a large parking lot, adequate outdoor space, washrooms and a larger gaming room.
“I hope it increases business. I’m hoping we see a retail increase of at least 15 per cent by the end of the first year and, ideally, of 25 to 30 per cent by the end of the second year,” Engel said.
He said he hopes to attract more customers from the greater Edmonton area for shopping as well as for game nights.
The business will hold the 12th annual Gamealot from Sept. 14 to 16, raising money for the food bank.
“It’s a [weekend] of board gaming and card gaming by the gamers, for the gamers,” Engel said, adding 108 individuals attended last year. “Gamealot’s been growing pretty consistently by about eight to 10 per cent, so I’m hoping that here … it will grow even more.”
To register for Gamealot, visit www.gamealot.ca.
The business intends to hold a grand opening in October, possibly featuring Edmonton’s Knights of the Northern Realm.