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Enterprising Spirit: Gaming Grotto eager to have their players back

Adam Crahen and Rochelle Marshall, owners of the Gaming Grotto pose for a photo on Friday, June 12, 2020, in the Garland District of Spokane, Wash.   (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Adam Crahen and Rochelle Marshall, owners of the Gaming Grotto pose for a photo on Friday, June 12, 2020, in the Garland District of Spokane, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Editor’s note: Our series Enterprising Spirit documents how businesses and workers are managing the economy’s slow return to life after its sudden shutdown in March – and adapting to new challenges ahead.

Gaming Grotto husband and wife team Adam Crahen and Rochelle Marshall miss the din of regular customers playing “Magic: The Gathering,” “Dungeons and Dragons” and Nintendo Switch “Super Smash Bros” tournaments. Nowadays, Crahen said that if he doesn’t put on music, the shop in north Spokane feels more like a library.

When the store first closed “it was super weird,” Crahen said. “But customers would message me on Facebook Messenger or they called me sometimes – I gave out my cell – and they would just ask if I had some stuff.”

Crahen and Marshall count themselves has lucky because since the stay-home order, their regular customers made parking-lot purchases at the store located on the edge of the Garland District at 3808 N. Monroe St. – and the demand was high with people spending more time at home.

“We would not still be here. We definitely would have been in trouble without our community,” Crahen said. “We have a very supportive, very strong community that cares a lot for us, and just in general.”

Now that they’ve reopened, they cleared away the gaming tables to give customers more space, but the gamers want to know when the tables will come back.

“We may have to limit the number of people that can be using the play area at a time, but we’re hoping Phase 3 might let us open this back up,” Marshall said.

Gaming Grotto isn’t just for expert gamers, either. Regular gamers help create the culture, eagerly showing the ropes to newbies.

“I actually didn’t know how to play ‘Magic: The Gathering’ very well when we opened and a couple of our regular customers have been helping me learn,” Marshall said. “When we have Dungeons and Dragons, one of our regular (Dungeon Masters) is fantastic about teaching new players.”

Another way the couple also made up for lost revenue was by selling games online through TCGplayer.

“I had to start doing that,” Crahen said. Yeah, I did not do that until we had to be closed, just a way to make up for those lost sales.”

Crahen said a majority of the website sales were outside of the Spokane area.

Crahan and Marshall, co-owners and sole employees, didn’t have any employees to let go, so that was “one struggle that we fortunately didn’t have to deal with,” Marshall said.

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