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It's only a game...right?

Troy Olson stands in front of the Game-Hub holding two vintage games, one of which still has the cellophane wrap on it. The business provides gamers with a lot of options in equipment, games and other accessories.

By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Young entreprenuers bring gaming back to Carbon county for youngsters of all ages

For baby boomers the games remembered include Monopoly, Candyland and Life.

But for those who are their kids, the names of their games are much different: Super Mario, Pitfall, Donkey Kong.

For today's youngsters, their favorites include Magic-The Gathering, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Batman: Arkham City.

And the Game Hub has it all by buying, trading, selling and offerning a myriad of services to gamers in the area.

"We've sold just about every kind of game out of our store here in Price," said Troy Olson, the young 20 something part owner of the business. "If they've made it we have sold it..." and then he paused. "Well everything but Coleco."

The store opened originally in Wix Plaza just a year ago and has been such a big hit with locals that the ownership decided to move to a larger location, one that has held probably 30 businesses in the last 20 years, but has high visibility. They just relocated a few weeks ago to the northwest corner of 100 North and 300 East in Price. Orginally an old grocery store, the original business probably survived on walkins from the neighborhood, before big supermarkets began to serve the area. But lack of parking around the building has doomed it in the recent past to either being a graveyard for the businesses there or a stepping stone.

However for the Game Hub, parking is not a very big deal. Most of their clientelle ride bicycles or are dropped off by parents. That's because, while some of their customers are college age or even older adults, the vast majority are kids.

"Our average customer age is probably 16-17 years old, although we do get some adults in here who like to look through the games and the play titles that they did when they were kids. But we do get a lot of young kids too."

Yes it could be considered a retro store, with retro games and retro machines. However, a modern console setup along with the latest gaming systems are also there for anyone to play.

"We have a lot of parents who bring their kids here to play on our machines, because for a buck an hour they can play what they want," stated Olson. "It's a great for those families who can't afford the machines or the on-line participation costs."

Olson and his two partners, Kevin Johnson and Daren Gardner got the idea of starting a game store because for a long time they were Halo pro-teamers, traveling from tournament to tournament. A game store seemed like a great idea. And one in Price that offers everything is almost ideal.

However, business doesn't grow just by doing a couple of things or selling in only one way. The store's on-line sales have gone through the roof this holiday season.

"During the rest of the year we are selling maybe eight to 10 games a day and sending them out," said Olson. "Right now in preparation for Christmas the orders have grown to 30-40 per day. While we could survive on what we make from local business, on-line sales certainly help our bottom line."

The store also offers a number of other things. First it sells game systems along with things like Ipods. It also will soon have a comic book wall. The conversation about comics quickly brought out the enthusiam for what many of the people standing around listening to the interview think is the best game ever. The recently released Batman: Arkham City.

"That game is amazing," said Mitch Ewan. "It has everything, almost every arch villain that Batman has ever faced is in it. It even has a mini-computer in it that lets you look up information on all the characters in Batman's comic books. It is so detailed. It's a game fans will fall in love with."

But regardless if one wants to play old games or new games, the way the Game Hub works as a social gathering point for kids is amazing.

Each Friday night the store puts on a tournament called Friday Night Magic. Players can come in for very little money and compete with one another via Magic: The Gathering.

And then there is the Friday Night Lockin. Some parents think it is the best thing since sliced bread.

It starts at midnight on Friday and runs until 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. Parents can bring in their kids and the youngsters can play to their hearts content. The kids aren't actually locked in the building, but they are not allowed to leave without their parents coming and getting them.

"Most stay up the whole night and have a great time," said Olsen. "If they fall asleep on us we call the parents to come and get them."

The Friday Night Lockin takes place once a month, but because of the holidays it will be held both on Dec. 16 and Dec. 23 this month.

It's a fun time, but also a business. Sometimes when one starts a business out of a hobby the hobby loses its charm. But so far, not for Olson.

"Despite some pressures, it hasn't ruined it for me yet," concluded Olson as he went off to help some young customers looking to have fun.




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