A celebration of board games and music

It’s Saturday afternoon, a small family has just arrived before me. The game they’ve selected is brand new, so the daughter reads out the instructions as the parents set up the pieces. Dad and daughter order milkshakes; glass of red wine for mom. Across the room another young man sitting comfortably in a big chair, finishing his own milkshake and getting setup for a serious session of video games on a big screen. 

While Josh is mixing drinks, I spend some time lost down memory lane, admiring the number of board games in stock that I used to play and, astonished at how many I have never heard of.

Summer months can be slow for downtown businesses so Cardboard Café owner Josh Rivers came up with an idea to bring people out. Instead of a weekly event, one special event where people can come, and so it was, Cardstock Music Festival was born.

Hard at work! Photo by Steve Murphy

Having worked with Fanshawe’s radio station 106.9 The X for a while, he allowed them to reach out to a number of bands they knew. Seven acts of varying styles from folk to punk were selected to entertain throughout the afternoon. 

Once on board, 106.9 station members also brought up the idea of combining this night of music with fundraising for the El Sistema program through Aeolian Hall. A perfect fit as Josh had always wanted to help them. Items are still being kept secret but, there will be a silent auction during the festival with funds being donated.

The Ex will also be broadcasting live to air from the event.

Games, games, GAMES, and MORE GAMES…

Of course while the musicians rock out, you can look forward to playing the tried and true classics like Monopoly and RISK, or play some Rampage on the arcade machine but for those willing to try something new or unique perhaps you’ll check out Josh’s recent favorite game Photosynthesis; a strategy game where you play as trees OR, his very own creation: Khyrsos Hunters which is available for sale.

Games, games, games! Photo by Steve Murphy

…and a difficult decision

While my main reason for speaking with owner Josh was the upcoming Cardstock Music Festival, plans were revealed in the last couple of days that Josh intends to sell the business and focus on his young growing family. August 3, 2019, the date of Cardstock Music Festival, will be their last day open. 

Josh explained quite succinctly how the idea had been festering for a while “It’s been difficult downtown with the construction. I’ve seen a lot of other business closing recently. The more places close the less of a draw there is downtown.  Last year we closed for July and August during construction. At that point things were already slow for us, and by June of this year, we’re still not seeing the turnaround like we needed to. We’ve brought it (the business) from nothing to here in 4 ½ years and it just came too much all at once. “

I asked how if he felt the city have looked out for businesses and if he felt their support?

“We’ve not really felt a lot of support from the city. As much as we see things they do, or claim to do like meeting with downtown businesses and stuff like that but, concerns that were brought up about construction or delays or security or how it would be handled were not really addressed and turned out to be true.”

“We knew that it was going to be a challenge. We wanted to wait until construction was done to see what it would bring but, the street isn’t really bringing people down here. One or two good days for events have helped but not beyond our average days.” 

“The street is beautiful, if we had this finished project a year or two ago but it’s been a combination of the construction and, just seeing how many businesses closed. Not just that they’re closed but, they’re still empty. Nobody’s buying. The more places that close, the less draw there is downtown. It was an amazing wonderful adventure the last five years, but it’s time to try something else.”

The man himself, Josh Rivers of the Cardboard Cafe. Photo by Steve Murphy

The announcement of the closure on Facebook was met with an outpouring of support from friends and customers alike. Hundreds of people thanked the shop for their years of dedication, many hoping someone is willing to take over. 

This closing of yet another business, and such a unique one at that, is a reminder of how much work there is to be done downtown until it’s the thriving community we all want it to be. 

The specifics:

What? Cardstock Music Festival! 106.9 The X and The Cardboard Cafe present the first ever Cardstock Music Festival. This all-day event will feature local musicians, board games and a silent auction in support of El Sistema South London.
When? Saturday, August 3
rd 2pm-7pm
Where? Cardboard Café – 114 Dundas St, London Ontario
Price? Tickets are $15 at the door

FEATURING the music of:
Youngest and Only
Lost In Japan
The Moore Ave Underground
Cedar and Pine
Craig Gignac
Lucy Morgan


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