About Here Be Books & Games
Last update: 20 April 2016
Our mission is to help people unplug and engage with each other, face-to-face, playing board games and card games. We love to help our customers find the perfect game for them, according to their particular tastes, desired playing time, skill level and usual number of players. Unlike most online game stores, you can call us during our scheduled business hours and talk with a live person. We’re happy to make recommendations, take requests and preorders and otherwise assist you. Local gamers in Summerville, South Carolina and the surrounding Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester-county area can take advantage of our Game Nights and other gaming events and are always welcome to come in for a demo or to learn a new game. We’ll even teach you how to play!
We are dedicated to maintaining and enhancing our customers’ satisfaction by leveraging technology and providing exceptional service in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
Here Be Books & Games is owned and operated by Tim and Tina McDuffie. We both love to read and of course, we love to play games: board games, card games, and the occasional roleplaying game. You can often find us playing games, whether we’re learning something new, teaching a customer or just taking a break from work. You’re welcome to join us. Or ask us to show you or teach you something. There are lots more games for three or more players than for just two.
Since our earliest days as a couple (we got together in 1987), Tim and I (Tina) have always dreamed of owning a used-book and game store. Then in April 2005, Tim was finishing up with H & R Block and looking for something else to do; Tim’s retired Navy. I happened to visit The Book Outlet in Summerville looking for a Sara Paretsky novel. The owner had a sign up indicating he wasn’t taking trades after some date. I asked if he was going out of business, he said yes, we talked some more. When I got home, I excitedly told Tim, “You know how you’re looking for something new to do now that tax season is over? Let’s open a bookstore!”
So, we did some research. We put together a business plan. And we decided to go for it – the bookstore portion of our dream, that is. We bought The Book Outlet’s stock and immediately began computerizing our inventory. When The Stamp and Book Outlet closed in mid-July, we commenced a two-week stint of non-stop painting, carpeting, cleaning and organizing. We made the place ours.
We opened on August 2, 2005 with about 40,000 books stuffed on our shelves, only a small percentage of which were recorded in our computerized inventory. Now everything in our store is inventoried. (I wish I could say the same for the books in our storage unit.) It took over a year to get all 40,000+ titles entered what with trades coming in, too. (We began acepting trades about 2 months after we opened.)
We created the kind of store we’d want to shop: with comfy chairs for relaxing and reading, friendly staff who are always willing to help you, but don’t hover when you just want to browse, a good selection of books in a variety of categories with hardbacks, old books, roleplaying games, and boardgames, too. Basically, we built a store with a friendly, inviting atmosphere and service-oriented staff.
Over the years we’ve hosted a variety of events and invited the community to attend, including: book signings, story telling, Talk Like a Pirate Day celebrations, wizard rock concerts, iPad classes, Dungeon & Dragon Game Days, Free RPG Days, and monthly Game Nights (just for the fun of it).
Game Night and Expansion into Board Games
In 2007, we began holding monthly game nights at the store. We enjoyed our D & D Game Day and Free RPG Game Days so much, we wanted to make playing games at the store a regular thing. So, with encouragement from our customers, we did just that.
After awhile we noticed that people would often go out and by the games we played and/or taught them at Game Night. So we started thinking wouldn’t it be nice if they bought them from us. It took us awhile to find a distributor that carried the kind of games we wanted to stock. After a few false starts followed by some helpful advice from a Florida game store owner we met on vacation, we finally found two game distributors. Of course, the one we signed up with immediately went out of business. Ok, so there were more than few false starts.
The end of 2008 found us rearranging books and making room for games, thus completing our initial dream of a book and game store. We also began buying games for our game library, which we use for demonstrations, Game Nights and other gaming events. We’ve taken our games to local school festivals and family game nights hosted by the PTA of a local school.
Sometimes I think the games in our library multiply like bunnies. A few times the title count got over 600 and we had to trim it down. Most recently (Dec 2015) that led us to gift wrap them in bundles worth $30 or more and sell them for $5 bucks a pop. Boy did they go fast. Unfortunately, I think all that space gained is almost gone again.
Fast forward, eight years later: Game Night attendance was in the 30s and higher. Games expanded into the whole front area of the store to include 800+ titles, plus gaming accessories. We listed all of our games on our online store, too, so you could shop 24/7.
I can’t remember when I first put up the online store. I know it was quite a few years before that.
Newsletter and Game Review Blog
In 2013, Tina started writing a monthly newsletter for our customers featuring upcoming events, new arrivals, etc. Then began including game reviews. Before long the newsletter grew from 4 to 8 pages and she had more than 40 game reviews under her belt. Thus The Glass Meeple, her game review blog was born. Tina usually writes two or more game reviews a month.
Closing of Brick and Mortar Store and Current Plans
In 2017, after 12 years in business, we unfortunately were forced to close our brick and mortar store. Our shopping center was bought by an out-of-state investment group who quadrupled our rent. Not being able to afford that much of a rent increase, we attempted to find and purchase a building of our own. We made offers on three separate buildings, but none of them worked out. Details are available in our September 2017 newsletters.
So we decided to close our brick and mortar store and continue as an online game store with a few collectible books.
Wanting to find a way to continue Game Night, be able to interact, face-to-face with our customers, make recommendations and continue teaching games (our favorite part of the business), we began looking for an office space that would provide us at least with a commercial address, even if it wouldn’t be able to accommodate a full retail environment. With an office we’d be able to have the face-to-face interaction we desired and also provide a convenient local pickup location for our customers. Game Night could continue. We could still teach you how to play…
One of nice things about running a small business is that we can experiment. Right now we’re embarking on a really big new experiment. Fingers crossed it all works out.
The fine art photographic prints displayed in the store and used on many of our bookmarks are by the late Philip James Filia, Tina’s long-time friend.