Concord, California / While small businesses struggle to obtain bank loans for much needed expansion, one local business owner is tapping an unusual source to build his community center – his customers.
Gary Ray has been running Black Diamond Games for nearly ten years, starting with little knowledge and a tiny retail store in Walnut Creek, and later doing well enough to move to a much larger store in Concord.
“We hold game events until 10pm every night,” says Ray, “and we’ve been at capacity for years. We need more space.”
Hobby games are a little known niche, but lately they’ve grown in popularity with the mainstreaming of geek culture. The top hobby game, Magic: The Gathering, a 20 year old collectible card game, packs most game stores with eager customers wanting to test their decks. Board games have also exploded onto the scene, with the hit TV series Big Bang Theory featuring once obscure hobby game Settlers of Catan, and regular episodes featuring the fantasy game legend, Dungeons & Dragons.
“With so many gamers wanting to play in our game canter, we needed to expand. We managed to obtain a bank loan, but it just wasn’t enough.” Ray explained. “We needed more funds, and we believe our community will step up to chip in through our Kickstarter campaign.”
Kickstarter allows project creators, like Ray, to create projects and obtain funding through backers, who sometimes contribute as little as $20. Ray’s Kickstarter went live recently, and has already gained traction with his customers by offering a combination of store swag and a gym membership model.
Other options include a “Wall of Heroes,” recognizing supporters with their name and heraldic symbol, ways for game publishers to get recognition with movie style posters, and even consulting offered to other game stores. “I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to support us, at every tier of my industry,” Ray explained.
Gary Ray owns Black Diamond Games at 1950 Market Street, in Concord, California. They’re open every day until 10pm, and by all accounts, is packed to the gills with excited customers.
1950 Market Street, Suite E
Concord, CA 94520