About Here Be Books & Games
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.
About The Owners
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) 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!” His response wasn’t very positive.
So, we did some research anyway, put together a business plan and 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 12-hour days painting, carpeting, cleaning and organizing.
On August 2, 2005, Here Be Books opened its doors with over 40,000 books stuffed on its shelves. We created the kind of bookstore we liked 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, and a great selection of books in a variety of categories, including roleplaying games.
Over the years we 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. Our customers enjoyed our D & D Game Day and Free RPG Game Days so much, they asked us to make playing games at the store a regular thing. So we did.
After awhile we noticed that people would often go out and buy the games we played and/or taught them at Game Night. “Wouldn’t it be nice if they bought them from us instead?” 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 moving and rearranging books to make room for games, thus completing our initial dream of a book and game store.
We also began building a demo game library, so we could teach our customers how to play and provide game demonstrations. Sometimes I think the games in our Game Library multiply like bunnies. A few times the title count has exceeded 600 games and we’ve had to trim it down.
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. By 2017, Game Night attendance averaged 47 gamers, with peaks in the 60s.
At some point before April 2013 – I can’t remember exactly when – I developed and launched our online store. I know it was before April 2013 because the first issue of our newsletter has an article about it: “Online Store Now Lists All Games.”
Being WebWoman, I couldn’t just put up any old thing. I made sure our game listings include: detailed descriptions, contents list when available, number of players, game mechanics, recommended ages, publisher info, pictures, etc.
Newsletter and Game Review Blog
In 2013, I (Tina) started writing a monthly newsletter for our customers featuring upcoming events, new arrivals, etc. While it started out as a simple 4-page affair, it grew to 8 pages and sometimes 10 when I added game reviews to the mix. Before long I had more than 40 game reviews under my belt.
Wanting a way to provide customers access to those game reviews whenever they wanted without having to search through our newsletter archive, I started working on a blog. Thus The Glass Meeple was born in November 2014.
A Sad Goodbye to the Books
In 2017, after 12 years in business, we unfortunately were forced to close our brick and mortar store – for two months. 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. So we sold off most of the books and closed our store on Ladson Road with plans to 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…
Two weeks later, we found our new home…
Sadly, there was no coming back for the bookstore. Because we dealt primarily in used books, we couldn’t just place an order with a distributor to restock like we could with the games. All of our core books – bestsellers, classics, etc. – were gone.
A Better Game Store
While losing the bookstore was heartbreaking, it has let us become a better game store. We have three game rooms – with tables set up all of the time so you can come in and play whenever you want. All of our demo games are easily accessible and on display in the game rooms. You’ll find family, casual and gateway games in the Gate Room, thematic games in the Dragon Room and strategy games in the Observatory.
What would be the lobby area of a business office is our main selling area, along with the Treasure Room that’s packed with games. Our old Roleplaying Game bookcase made the move. Its shelves are filled with roleplaying game books and supplements – both new and used – and its drawers with modules. Our card sleeve display also made the move and resides in the Treasure Room, too. Feel free to browse.
Side Note: Yes, we know the buildings in the Travelers Executive Center look like apartments, but they are really business condos and always have been.
Game Night continues the first Saturday of every month, but now starts at 2 pm instead of 6pm. With three game rooms at our disposal, we can hold events anytime. In our old place, we only had room to have one table set up all the time. We could only hold events after regular hours: there wasn’t enough room for customers to shop when all the tables were set up for gaming.
We’ve added mid-week gaming on Wednesdays and Learn to Play events and Free Open Gaming every Saturday, except Game Night. Check out our Events Schedule for what we’re running.
Of course, regardless of what’s on the schedule, we’re happy to demo games and make recommendations anytime. We’ll even teach you how to play!
Near the end of 2017, shortly before we closed our store on Ladson Road and relocated to Travelers Blvd, we held two Game Auctions. The intent of the first auction, in August, was to trim down our Game Library prior to our move (we thought we were going to be moving at the time) and allow our customers to sell some of their unwanted or unplayed games so they could buy new games. The intent of the second auction at the end of September was to sell off most of our Game Library and some of our stock in preparation for closing.
When we reopened at our new location, our customers asked when our next Game Auction would be. “Uh, April?” So now we hold Game Auctions three times a year, usually in January, May, and August or September. The auctions provide you a way to turn games you don’t play anymore into new games you want. They’re always fun and exciting.
Well, there you have it: the detailed history of how we got to where we are today. And you read the whole thing!!! 🙂
TLDR: Here Be Books & Games is a great game store – brick & mortar and online; has over 1000 games in stock, three game rooms, and an extensive demo game library; holds lots of fun gaming events every month; and publishes a monthly newsletter with game reviews. We’ll teach you how to play!