Dec 08, 2020

Winnipeg

GameKnight - Selling Fun in Times of Trouble

Story by Ian Smith Photo by Gabrielle Touchette Photography

Scott Tackaberry has been a gamer since he was a teenager, and by gamer, we aren’t talking video games. At 51 years young, Scott’s passion doesn’t involve desktops or laptops; he’s more of a table-top kind of guy. 

After running his beer and wine homebrew store called Grape & Grain for over ten years, Scott realized his love of fantasy games matched his passion for homebrew, so he added a few games and books into the corner of his store.  

That was seventeen years ago. Today, GameKnight fills a 6,000 sq ft storefront at 519 Osborne Street. What started as a simple side-hustle has grown into a one-stop-shop for board game enthusiasts of any age.

Hosting the local community for gaming events and tournaments formed the business’s core. They would welcome fifty to seventy people on any given night and up to 150 for special event nights.

That’s why when rumblings of COVID’s effects began to hit the news this year, Scott knew some tough decisions were going to have to be made.

“We knew we had to suspend in-person gaming; there was just too much close contact required,” recalled Tackaberry. “But then it seemed like the rules changed every hour, and we had to pivot on a dime. It was like, maybe we should close some gaming? Ok, maybe all the gaming? Actually, it looks like we need to shut everything down in two days!” 

That was March 28th. 

This was also the day when Scott realized he had a big challenge ahead; the Gameknight team was now tasked with getting a functional online store up and running from scratch to sustain the business through the economic uncertainty. Scott gave them a firm timeline to deliver on this herculean task. It would have to be up in two days. 

Unbelievably, they did it. The website launched on time, and though not fully featured or, frankly, very pretty, it allowed GameKnight customers to buy games remotely and help keep his business afloat. 

As Scott reflects, “The one silver lining to this crazy season is it made us open an online store. If it weren’t for COVID, we’d probably still be talking about how to do it.”  

When the store could reopen in May, most of the business was back to in-person, but now ten percent was coming in online. They saw games being ordered locally, outside the city, and from coast to coast.  

Things were better than ever.

This time, when Code Red reared its unwelcome head in November, Scott and his team were ready. After limping through the first few months of the initial shutdown, GameKnight had hired extra staff to manage the influx of online orders and deliveries and was able to offer curbside pick-up or ship products far and wide. 

Through the struggles of COVID, the nature of table-top gaming and its ability to strengthen relationships and foster community has been on full display. 

Tackaberry shares, “We support our gaming community by providing them with a place to play, so our gamers, in turn, want to support us through this difficult time. They want to make sure that we are still here on the other side. For that, I am immensely grateful.”

When asked why Manitobans should check out GameKnight during this crazy season, Tackaberry mused,  

“Well… I like to say that we sell fun! So, whether you are an Average Joe just looking for a game to do with your family or even that Average Joe’s Grandma… we’ve got tons of puzzles, traditional board games, fantasy games and more! “

At GameKnight, there is something for everyone.

If you are tired of the games on your shelf, visit GameKnight.ca for a new fantasy gaming adventure, an old classic or a new hobby to help you and your family find some fun this holiday season. 

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