Downtown game store opens just in time for Christmas
The Rune and Board fills a need in western Washington County most didn't even know was there
For Nick Barnes, opening his new store is like a Christmas miracle.
After months of construction delays, Barnes opened the Rune & Board this week, Hillsboro's new boardgame shop inside the colorful Troy Building at 238 S.E. Washington St., in downtown Hillsboro.
"Initially we had expected to be open mid- to late-October," Barnes said. "That didn't happen."
But with only three days to Christmas, the Rune & Board is open for business, offering local gamers easy access to all their gaming needs.
From Magic the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons to Cards Against Humanity and classic Monopoly, the Rune & Board will offer a variety of card and board games for ages 12 and up.
"A lot of the things I'll bring into the store will be the things I saw at other games stores that I liked. And things that I'll be addressing from the get-go are things that I don't like," said Barnes, himself a longtime gamer. "I'm trying to provide a more open, friendly atmosphere — encourage more inclusivity. I mean, you can't demand it, but you can definitely encourage it."
In May, Barnes and his wife Sadie setup a Dungeons & Dragons tournament at the Brookwood Library to see who might be their customer base.
"We wanted to meet some new people and see who would turn out — we were curious," Barnes said. "What surprised me the most was the couple in their 60s who'd been playing D&D for 40 years, if not longer. That is a demographic that you don't expect, but it does exist."
So the Rune & Board, Barnes said, will not be solely for hardcore boardgame enthusiasts but for learners as well, and he's even tossed around the idea of offering demo-days or Learn-to-Play events, which he would like to hold multiple times per months, if not once per week.
But the big draw at the Rune & Board will be the weekly gaming tournaments for experienced, invested gamers.
While the front half of store will be retail, with a variety of games across various styles, the back half will focus entirely on open play-space, Barnes said.
"We should have space for roughly 50 people," he said, noting the handful of large, conference room-style tables he'll use for different game settings, including a custom made table specifically designed to play Warhammer 40,000, a miniature tabletop war game.
"The idea is to have a lot of open play space," Barnes said. "On one side, we'll have the larger conference tables for (role playing games) and open-play board games, while the other side will have folding tables more designed for Magic or Pokémon, but could still be used for open-play."
Barnes said he would eventually like to see the Rune & Board hold tournaments and multiple weekly events, including Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League, which offers opportunities for rewards and perks that follow the player to other tournaments at other locations — something that hasn't been available in western Washington County for awhile.
"What we saw here was the potential," Barnes said. "There's a very large population and no (other game store) is here. Your nearest is roughly 10 miles, then you're into Portland, basically."
Barnes anticipates his customer base to come from Hillsboro and western Washington County, including residents of Forest Grove, Cornelius, and North Plains.
"Rainy Day Games (located on Tualatin Valley Highway) is a great store, but I've heard some residents say they don't want to travel that far," Barnes said. "They don't feel up to traveling that far, let alone all the way to Portland."
So Barnes found a place he could rent just two blocks from the TriMet light rail station.
"One of the key things we learned was that many gamers don't drive, or if they do they drive limitedly. And they may drive, but don't own a car — or don't want to drive," he said. "So one of the big things was being close to mass transit. It's no accident we ended up here. That was absolutely intentional — to end up within short walking distance of public transit."
Barnes also set his hours with intent.
"As an evening and weekend business, we're not competing with normal-hour retail," he said.
Closed Monday, the store will be opened Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. For weekends, Barnes will open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
The closing hours, however, will always be fluid, he said.
"It's the sort of thing where if it's 9 o'clock on a Wednesday and there's no one here, I'm going home," he said. "But if it's 9:05 p.m. and I still have a dozen people playing a game, then I'm going to hang out."
For more on the Rune & Board, visit www.runeandboard.com.
By Travis Loose
Reporter, Hillsboro Tribune
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