A space for all gamers and nongamers alike - Level Up Games will be opening in downtown Hastings on Friday, May 31.
The store offers a variety of gaming options: board, card and video games, as well as toys and comics. More than that, it is the store's mission to bring social aspects back to gaming.
"Our company's whole philosophy is community through gaming," social media and event coordinator, Josh Marcotte said. "As gaming becomes more and more solitary online, there is a huge benefit to keeping it within communities. Plenty of our customers find new friend groups and new niches, and find community in our stores. We don't see ourselves as a retail spot, but as a community hub as well."
Owner, Tony Leitner, has two other Level Up Games locations, in Eagan and South St. Paul. He also owns Mead Hall in Minneapolis.
"We do a lot of community outreach in every city we are in. We work with the schools, their teen programs and churches. We do a lot of different stuff to try to get more kids gaming. It's so important - the tabletop, social side of gaming, I should say. It is desperately needed." Leitner said.
To create a community hub, Level Up Games hosts a wide variety of events for every gamer. The store will host weekly board game nights, as well as frequent events and tournaments for card games - most popularly, Magic the Gathering and Pokemon. Video game events for games like Super Smash Bros., for example, will be held as well.
"We really want to bring people back to the social side of gaming, and not just sitting in a room online, yelling at each other over Fortnite," Leitner said.
Dennis Kolm, manager of the Hastings location, agreed, adding that people are often too into their phones and their online lives today.
"Our community is huge. I've seen it grow from the first store and every time we expand, it expands the community," Kolm said. "It's so friendly. It's really like walking into 'Cheers.' You'll walk in and you'll know someone or you'll find those kindred spirits. It's very welcoming."
Soon Level Up Games will also be a stop for downtown coffee lovers as well, as they prepare to open a coffee counter at the front of the store. The staff hopes to have it up and running by the end of June.
To celebrate its opening, Level Up Games will be hosting events all weekend for the community to come in and see what the store is all about.
Friday morning, there will be a free Magic the Gathering draft for the first 40 people who show up. Friday night, they will be hosting a bring-your-own-deck Pokemon event where the winner will get a special prize.
Saturday is International Tabletop Day, so appropriately, demo games will be set up all around the store for people to stop in and play. Sunday will be Family Fun Day.
The store is located at 120 Second St. and will be open everyday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.