More than a decade ago, Travis Parry might have been among the fans who waited for the Nerd Store to open on Friday, June 16.
Magic The Gathering, a card game partly responsible for keeping businesses such as The Nerd Store open, released a Lord of the Rings edition on Friday. Or Friday was actually a pre-release, meaning that if you were especially, um, nerdy, you could buy it before the plebs, probably by signing up for some newsletter. Parry called it the biggest tie-in in the card game’s history. If you’re a nerd, it doesn’t get much bigger than a love child between Magic The Gathering and Lord of the Rings.
Alas, Parry is celebrating his 10th year as owner of The Nerd Store. He opened the store because, well, he’s a nerd: He calls himself the “evil overlord” of the store, which is a pretty nerdy thing to do. He opened it because his wife, Michelle, joked about how he needed a one-stop show for all his nerdy activities. When he woke up the next day, he had a business idea.
We probably don’t even need to describe the store to you, but it’s full of comics, board and card games and lots of trinkets and toys that all geeks love. Pokémon Go has it marked as a special Pokestop, where players can not only get supplies for the VR game but also know it’s a place where they can play Pokémon. This is true: Parry still runs a public card game as a part of the slate he runs for his customers. He has a game every night, including, yes, one devoted to the OG, “Dungeons and Dragons.”
But Parry was busy with orders and paperwork Friday, as he is every day. He is a store owner now and worries about things such as inventory and bills and balances. He has more panic attacks in a month, he said, than opportunities to play. Things are a lot more stable now than when he first opened and put in 100-hour work weeks running the counter and then doing paperwork, but he still doesn’t think he’s made it just yet.
“I don’t know if you ever get to that point,” Parry said. “I’m one bad month away from the end.”
Parry doesn’t even work the counter much anymore. This is good for his family, his business and his own mental health, but he didn’t think he’d be so disconnected from all the fun 10 years later. He relishes the days when he can talk to customers during his one shift a week up front.
“I do enjoy seeing what’s working well,” Parry said. “This is something you work so hard on, and I miss that feedback. It’s still fun to get that positive feedback.”
Only a couple fans waited out front on Friday before the 11 a.m. opening, but there was a pre-release game that was packed, and fans were in the store all weekend. It was a good weekend.
Before you start to see Parry as an Anakin Skywalker who’s now Darth Vader, well, he did play in that pre-release game. His kids had some “Magic” fun on Father’s Day with him. He was looking forward to an upcoming game convention.
He hasn’t moved over to the Dark Side yet. Not completely anyway.
“So much more of it is the economics of the business,” Parry said, “but there’s still some room for fandom.”