Tim Brown would have to admit it wasn’t always a dream of his to open a specialty gaming store, but it’s definitely become one.
Tim opened The Game Chamber in November of 2012 in the plaza at 1700 Dundas Street, in London’s east end. Though he had a business partner for most of the first three years, he has since become the sole proprietor with a staff of five that includes his wife, Trina Brown.
A Daring New Adventure
Before opening The Game Chamber, Tim had worked at the popular hobby store The Comic Book Collector for around 12 years. The store sold a variety of geek culture favourites—comic books, action figures, superhero statues, models and games.
As Tim helped set up gaming tournaments for the store, he became very familiar with the industry. “As soon as I started working in the comic book industry, the gaming side of it was a big portion of why I got my job there. That was the part I really liked. And after I had some experience there I thought I could do this for life..” However, Tim admits it was not all fun and games at the beginning, “Balancing my current job(s) with a new profession … it was hard. I had three jobs at that time. Add that to home life … it was hard.”
After leaving The Comic Book Collector, Tim and his business partner at the time opened The Game Chamber in one of the units of the 1700 Dundas St plaza. Some of the main attractions of the new location included plenty of free parking and lots of interior space for running games.
Coming up with a name for the store was an interesting challenge. “We did a sort of word association game; tried to be unique. We needed the word ‘Game’ in it though. And the word ‘Chamber’ kind of told people what we had here,” Tim explained.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Once the business was up and running, the customers started to come. Every year more people discovered The Game Chamber, but that didn’t mean running the store was smooth sailing.
When asked about some of the unexpected challenges he encountered, Tim shared his difficulties with product scarcity. “It doesn’t make sense to me when we pre-order items for customers and still get fewer than ordered,” he explained. Choosing who of his customers would get what product came in and who didn’t was always added stress.
On the positive side, he enjoyed how much product was available. If he ever found himself out of stock of any desired products that customers wanted, he could often fill those orders within a matter of days to a week.
Over the last 8 years, Tim has had to deal with many personal and professional challenges, including the unexpected passing of his father, Trina suffering a near fatal bike accident, and more recently a string of break-ins at the store. “If I could take a positive away, it was a wake-up call about our security. To step it up before something worse could happen. The negative is that it’s affected our ability to get quality insurance,” Tim shared.
Gaming in Pandemic Times
EDITOR’S NOTE DEC 15, 2020: While London-Middlesex is in the Red Zone, The Game Chamber is closing the game room except for socially distanced Covid-Safe appointments.
The Game Chamber is much more than a store that supplies its customers with a variety of colourful multi-sided dice, card and tabletop games, and miniatures. Private rooms and game tables are available in the back area of the store where groups of friends can gather and play games for hours, adhering to Covid rules of course. The pandemic has made gaming a challenge. “It’s weird because of Covid. Large events are now on hiatus. But we still have games nightly,” Tim said. Tim also gives out promotional gaming cards, role-playing-game miniatures and the like to winning participants of store-sponsored events.
The last thing Tim wants is for anyone new to gaming to feel intimidated at the sheer volume of games available. For those who aren’t sure where to start or are new to the modern world of gaming, Tim or any of his staff are ready to help.
“I ask what their interests are, their favourite TV show or movie or whatnot and steer them in the direction of their interests,” Tim explained.
There are several games based on such popular shows and films like Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, or Marvel and DC Comics superheroes. If games based on established property aren’t your thing, there are many original creations as well. For example, there’s Forbidden Desert, a co-operative game set in a desert land where players work together to acquire four different treasures and then fly away before the desert floods, or Timeline, a clever card game that is as much educational as it is entertaining, where players play against each other answering time related trivia questions.
An Expanding Universe
The Game Chamber continues to grow. Most recently they have added a kitchen, more booths, tables and chairs with hopes to open an eatery section soon. “Covid-19 has made us hold off the kitchen as it was intended to open up closer to the beginning of the year.” Tim is determined to offer the best options for his customers, and an eatery is just the latest addition.
Gaming is always changing. Games that may be popular one year may be replaced by others the next, whereas games like Magic: The Gathering, War Hammer, or Dungeons and Dragons remain extremely popular year after year. The Game Chamber is always ready to provide the best of resources and experiences that will keep people coming back. “We welcome everyone who has a good attitude and wants a fun time playing their favourite hobby.”
Feature photo by A. Jaye Williams