Tucson Games and Gadgets is a haven for gamers, geeks and everyone in between. The local game shop has two locations at the Park Place and Tucson malls that offer a community game space and products for anyone looking to dive into the world of gaming.
Both store locations have wall-to-wall arrays of tabletop games and a community space where anybody can simply sit down and play for free. From classics like chess or checkers, to fantasy favorites like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, to even party games like Cards Against Humanity, there is truly a game for everyone.
Mark Kadow, the owner of the two stores, started the business roughly five years ago. Kadow said he always loved tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons and wanted to try something new, so he built a business to support the gaming community.
“My goal is to bring entertainment. I love entertainment,” Kadow said. “I want to make a fun, safe entertainment environment here in Tucson.”
Each location has a different theme. The Tucson Mall location emanates a dark dungeon, “old age” vibe, while the Park Place location has a sci-fi theme that leans towards a more sterile-looking environment. The walls are filled floor-to-ceiling with games, memorabilia, posters and miscellaneous artifacts from the gaming world.
Kadow discussed how employees encourage people to support the store by buying snacks or games if they intend to stay and play, but he stressed that the aim is to build a community of people who love games.
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Thai Moberly, one of the managers of Tucson Games and Gadgets, has been working there for about a year and two months.
Moberly claimed he was hired through a very unique interview process. Kadow asked Moberly to come to the store and Moberly played a board game for about two and a half hours with people, unaware that they were really employees.
“I fell in love with it, to where there is no way I could stay away. I ended up just running with it,” Moberly said.
Moberly is primarily in charge of Magic: The Gathering events, one of his favorite games, but is also in charge of organizing and setting up events for both locations. According to Moberly, organizing events is one of the more challenging aspects of the job.
“It’s a very active community. I have to stay ahead of that curve,” Moberly said. “I have to find ways of marketing so that I keep these people coming in.”
Moberly explained there is extensive planning over social media and the store can get up to seven new customers each week looking to try something new.
“It’s just a lot of note taking, a lot of micromanagement, while still being appropriate, being conductive,” Moberly said. “You are not going out and generating friction. You’re going out and you’re working with the environment and the attitude that they already have, and you’re trying to find a way to get them to support us at the same time.”
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Moberly spoke extensively about different events that take place each day, like Saturday night board games, Dungeons & Dragons sessions, College Night, Ladies Night and so many more.
“Every one of our employees we consider as a performer, you know, they all have their own personalities,” Kadow said.
Two longtime customers of Tucson Games and Gadgets, husband and wife James and Kellie Springer, have always loved being a part of the culture at the store. The two of them love role playing games and the private rooms at the store gave them a space to just play and be together.
“One of the reasons that I stayed with [Tucson Games and Gadgets] was that it’s much more female friendly,” Kellie Springer said. “My husband used to run Ladies Night for lady gamers. People would say, ‘What? Women don’t game.’ And no, lots of women game.”
According to Moberly, the entire business is about creating space for everyone and anyone who is interested. Moberly also discussed how gaming stores are dying, and their method of business sets them apart and keeps the stores alive. Community is the backbone of Tucson Games and Gadgets.
“We encourage loitering more than anything,” Moberly said. “We want you to be comfortable enough to come in here with your friends and family and just grab a board game down and play for two hours.”
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