Game Store Quest!: Wilmington, NC + Columbia, SC

Hey hey. In January my husband surprised me with a little beach vacation and of course we visited a couple of game stores and cafes along the way. I wrote up most of this article but didn’t publish it right away. I’ve been in lockdown long enough that I’ve accomplished many of the unfinished projects around my home and I realized now is the perfect time to finish up this article and others.

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We spent some time at The Sideboard, a new board game cafe by Cape Fear Games.

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The cafe offers drinks including beer and wine (though the wine list was lacking, in my opinion), snacks, small meals, and desserts. Nic and I sampled many of the offerings – some of our favorites included caprese kabobs and s’mores dip served with graham crackers. We ate delicious sandwiches for lunch; Nic had the humus and avocado sandwich and coffee and I had the chicken salad sandwich, which I found to be fresh, unique, and tasty, and a hot chocolate.

The cafe was staffed by friendly folks and a talented kitchen staff. The food was good and was presented beautifully. The atmosphere was nice, although a little sparse. Gorgeous shadow boxes featuring classic games hung above each table along the walls and were my favorite atmospheric element. The wifi was terrible.

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We spent our time eating, drinking, and playing tons of games we brought from home, although there were lots of options available from the cafe’s library and the demo library of Cape Fear Games, which is accessible from the cafe.

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The library of free-to-play games at The Sideboard

Nic and I packed a big bag of games from home – games we wanted to try or show each other on this vacation, and we plowed through many of these, including Okey Dokey, a co-op game similar but superior (in my opinion) to The Mind; Pret-aPorter, which was challenging and interesting, especially for the weight; a couple of roll and writes – Rolled West and Welcome to Dino World; Rail Time, a co-op, real-time puzzle game with pick-up-and-deliver mechanics (this one offers quite a challenge!); and The Little Flower Shop, a quick, simple drafting game with pretty artwork. The Director of Retail Operations of Cape Fear Games asked us if we had yet played Watergate, a new two-player from Capstone Games; when he learned that we had not he opened up a copy for us. It was an interesting and tense game, oozing with theme. The cards and rulebook feature tons of information including quotes, photos, and facts about the scandal. I felt as though I had learned real information after playing the game and, while I didn’t enjoy the experience particularly, I don’t at all think it was a waste of time.

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Isn’t he cute?

Overall, Nic and I enjoyed the time we spent at The Sideboard and we recommend visiting for an hour or an afternoon, staying for a snack or a full meal. While you’re there pop into Cape Fear Games next door – its one of our favorite game stores. More info, pictures, and my thoughts on this lovely store here.

We took the long way home so that we could pop down to Columbia, South Carolina, to attend Tantrum House Game Day at Firefly Toys and Games.

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The store was large and sprawling and offered board, card, tabletop, and video games and systems, pinball machines, children’s educational/developmental aids and toys, and other, random stuff; while there were plenty of options it felt a little unfocused. The store was well-stocked and somewhat organized but could have been cleaner and less cluttered. Even though we knew some of the event attendees, players were a little oblivious to new folks and it felt a bit awkward; Nic and I didn’t end up playing anything with anybody while we were there (which was ok, especially since we didn’t plan to stay for long, but it would have been disappointing if we had been interested in playing). This store’s strong points included a robust selection of children’s games and a large collection of playable pinball machines. They were also well-stocked and offered a large variety of games and gaming-related accessories (including video games and systems), lots of snack and drink options, and all kinds of hobby-related magazines.

If you would like to see more pictures from this trip, or from any of my travels, follow me on Instagram at @sarahmtrager

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