How Winning a Contest Helped One Man Open His Own Game Store

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With International Tabletop Day around the corner, we’re counting down the days to the big celebration by highlighting friendly local gaming stores, their owners, and their awesome stories. Be sure to find an ITTD event near you so you can enjoy the festivities in your community.

Over 10 years ago Cody Dame was the owner of a small video business that filmed weddings and other local events in his hometown of McCook, Nebraska. A gamer at heart, Dame occasionally sold Magic The Gathering cards to his gaming buddies who stopped by his shop.

A contest in 2007 made Magic the focus of his business after Dame won the Hormel Business Plan Competition with his proposal for a gaming and comic book store. The grand prize was a $25,000 investment into his new business: Game on Games.

“Winning the contest jump started Game on Games and by June we were open for business,” Dam said. “It was nice having people behind us that had experience in opening businesses. One of the founders of the competition is still on our board of directors today, offering wonderful advice on lots of things. We feel fortunate to be able to start something and be able to have that kind of network built in right away.”

As Game on Games’ 10th anniversary draws closer, Dame fondly recalls his initial foray into hobby gaming. “When I was 12 years old I’d ride my bike to a small card shop in downtown McCook and they specialized in sports cards, but they also had a small section with Magic The Gathering,” he said. “One day I was buying sports cards and thought, ‘Oh, I’ll buy Magic and see what it’s about’ and I’ve been playing ever since.”

As his passion for collectible card games grew, Dame began exploring a new world of board games. “I bought Robo Rally soon after, knowing that Richard Garfield designed Magic,” he said.

Unfortunately, the card shop closed a few years after he’d discovered his love of gaming. “There was no other game store in the area for me. It was hard for a couple of years,” he said. “We really didn’t have anything to do so we played at each other’s houses while keeping the friendships alive that I’d made at that card shop.”

After he opened his video business, Dame recalled that, “all my friends that I played Magic and board games with would come in and I said, ‘There’s no reason why I shouldn’t have some Magic here in the store.’” Winning the $25,000 contest gave him a chance to pursue his passion full time and after almost 10 years in business and three additional stores, Dame still enjoys playing the game that brought him into the hobby.

“Every Friday night I have a good time at the store playing Magic,” he said. “Once we opened the store I’ve really been into tons of different board games because I’ve seen how awesome it is to bring them to people that have never heard about it. Then you all have a great time and all of a sudden they’re like, ‘I didn’t know board games were like this!’ It opens up such a new world for different people. Being at the store I get to show first-hand tons of these awesome board games to people.”

The satisfaction of sharing games with new players is surpassed only by the feeling of seeing a familiar face at the store. “Kids that started 10 years ago I’ve seen graduate and move on to college and have careers,” he said. “They still come back and hang out and play games with us after they’ve moved away. It’s nice; there’s no other word for it. It’s nice to see them come back and it’s nice to see old friends and play a board game with them.

“Tabletop gaming means my life. I’ve built everything I do around tabletop gaming. It means the world to me. There is nothing that I do that is more important in my daily life than hanging out playing games and teaching new people how to play them.”

Game On Games is located at 220 Westview Plaza in McCook, Nebraska. Visit their Facebook page here.

Have you won a contest at your FLGS? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credits: Game On Games

Ruel Gaviola is a writer and educator based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, date nights with his wife, and Star Wars. He reviews games and reports news for and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter.

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