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Creating friendly business is all fun and games

Friendly Local Game Store sells games and provides place to play and interact


by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Madi Karr, 4, who is the niece of Geoffrey Pement, co-owner of the Friendly Local Game Store, plays a memory game at the Beaverton gaming business.As smartphones, laptop computers and digital tablets become increasingly common gear for younger audiences, parents, teachers and child-rearing experts vigorously debate the value and drawbacks of frequent video game playing.

What often gets lost in the discussion is that not all games are created equal.

As the owners of Beaverton’s new Friendly Local Game Store like to point out, board games provide arguably more mental stimulation than their electronic counterparts, and a healthy bonus of positive socialization to boot.

“Someone who is big into role-playing games, it helps build their social interaction and interactive skills in general,” says Ashley Karr, 29, chief operating officer for the business. “For children, they create a big boost in reading and math skills, and lead to greater problem-solving skills than kids who play video games instead. When they face problems (during a game), they have to come up with something creative to solve it. It opens their imagination.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Geoffrey Penent, co-owner of Friendly Local Game Store, sits at a custom-made game table with a Descent board game. Besides selling popular game board games, the store features  game rooms for customers.

Karr and her husband, Geoff, along with the couple’s friend Geoff Pement, opened the Friendly Local Game Store at 8364 S.W. Nimbus Ave., in early May across Hall Boulevard from Starbucks and Subway.

With a full line of table-top games both classic and cutting edge available at retail prices — cards run $3 to $10, with board games ranging from $25 to $100 and more — the store caters to the full range of gamers, including table top war gamers, trading card players and old-school, role-player enthusiasts.

The store carries trading card favorites such as Magic: the Gathering boosters and singles, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh and Cardfight Vanguard, European favorites like Settlers of Catan and Carcassone as well as games such as Smallworld, Ticket to Ride, Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars X-wing minis.

In addition to sales and instruction, the family-owned business serves as a gathering place for gamers, with three rooms with customized tables available for group games and theme-oriented event at lunchtime and again in the evenings.

To help create an environment that’s more than just a place to walk in, buy something and walk out, the owners have applied for a licenses to serve casual food such as salads and sandwiches as well as beer and wine.

“Our number one product is community,” Geoff Karr says in a statement on the store’s web page. “We want people that buy from us to be people that stay and hang out with us, so we are really open to hearing what our customers want to see at the store so that everyone that plays here will feel as invested as we are.”

While some gaming events require a starting fee, use of the gaming rooms is generally free for customers and their guests. The arrangement is similar to that of the nearby Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery, a nonprofit game-appreciation center that opened in May 2013 at 8231 S.W. Cirrus Drive.

“There’s definitely a natural tie-in,” Pement says of the museum and gaming center. “We’d like to build a community here (around gaming).”

Pement, a Beaverton resident since 1998 and longtime friend of the Karrs, envisioned a Westside gaming store and gathering place that encouraged people to socialize and make an evening out of gaming.by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Geoffrey Penent, co-owner of Friendly Local Game Store, sells the popular board game, Catan, at the new game store in Beaverton.

“As opposed to storefronts that throw up tables, we wanted more of a hangout spot,” he says.

Ashley, who grew up in Beaverton and Aloha, says the spot, located just off Highway 217 and the busy Hall Boulevard thoroughfare, suits their mission just fine.

“It’s an ideal location for us, for convenience, and its in our personal community,” she says, noting only a couple game stores west of Portland. “There is a dearth in Beaverton of board game stores.”

The three partners wanted to go beyond a retail store with a couple of folding card tables.

“We looked around at game stores,” Pement says. “They’re all kind of the same place, where you go in and leave, and every Friday night they set up tables,” he says. “I wanted a place where people could again come out, so we could build a community, not just a customer base.”

Deciding to get into something a little closer to his heart, Pement, who grew up in Kansas City, Mo., sold his share of a real estate and construction company back to his partners to reinvest in the Friendly store.

“This is way more fun,” he says. “Real estate focuses on property management. That’s too up and down for me. My family owned a True Value (hardware) store in Kansas City. I knew retail and I loved games, so that’s where I’m directing my energy.”

The Friendly store’s business partners have complex familial ties.

Ashley Karr met Geoff Pement, 38, when he married her sister 12 years ago. Geoff Karr, meanwhile, moved to Beaverton from Alabama about five years ago and married Ashley.

“We wanted this to be family friendly,” Ashley says. “Geoffrey and I have three girls, so we made a kids’ corner. We want parents to come in and take a look at stuff and let kids play with the stuff they’re allowed to touch.”

While the partners have gotten by so far without hiring outside employees, they may have to reconsider based on some of the response the store’s received since it opened.

“Yesterday was the last day of school at Southridge High School,” Pement says. “That was our busiest day so far. Twenty-three students descended on his us all at once. They stuck around and played Magic.

“We’ve got a little bit of a fan club. There’s this group of guys excited about it and are spreading the word. They enjoy getting in on the ground floor.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Dice and other accessories are available for sale at the Friendly Local Game Store in Beaverton.

Friendly Local Game Store

A new retail board game outlet, providing a wide range of titles, gaming rooms and regularly scheduled events and tournaments

Where: 8364 S.W. Nimbus Ave., Building 1A just off Southwest Hall Boulevard, north of the complex with Subway and Starbucks

Owners: Beaverton residents Geoffrey and Ashley Karr, and Geoffrey Pement

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Website: thefriendlylocalgame store.com/beaverton/




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