Surrounded by glass cases full of intricately painted tabletop-gaming miniatures, walls lined with comic books and tables laid out as battlefields for epic fantasy and role-playing matches, Nathaniel Williams has created a store by a gamer, for gamers.
Dark Tower Games, 929 N. State St. in Bellingham, opened Dec. 17. The store operates Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Williams, 31, said he’s put most of his focus into creating an atmosphere conducive to gamers. He thought Bellingham game enthusiasts of all stripes needed a comfortable, spacious spot to meet.
“I’m just trying to give people what they’re looking for,” Williams said.
Gamer Corey Wilke said Dark Tower was a great location for regular game nights, as well as a good place for players to bring along spouses or significant others who may not be huge game fans.
“I am just excited to have a space to bring friends and not be ashamed,” Wilke said.
Dark Tower caters to players of an array of popular tabletop, role-playing, board and collectible card games including Warhammer, El Dorado, Distopian Wars, Infinity, Hordes, Warmachine, Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, The Settlers of Catan and Magic The Gathering.
Williams said a major asset to the store is its large size. He can fit in around a dozen gaming tables for informal matches and organized tournaments.
Playing games in the store is free, Williams said, but some tournaments have buy-in fees that go toward prizes for winners.
Of course, Dark Tower is also a retail store selling a variety of games and gaming products, including dice and model paints. Williams also has soft drinks, energy drinks, bottled water and various food items available for purchase.
Justin Campanoli, who stopped in to check out the store after hearing word of it through friends, said it was important for gamers to have a good space to get together.
Campanoli, who mainly plays Dungeons and Dragons, said for many players, the games are not simply games, they are serious hobbies that require time, dedication and practice to master.
“Most of it is just practice makes permanent,” Campanoli said.
Williams said since he is a gamer himself, it’s easier for him to understand what customers want in a game store.
“Just the fact that I play the games carries a lot of weight with my customers,” he said
Gamer Zac Swankie said he expected the store to become a popular spot for game fans in Bellingham. Williams knows how to cater Dark Tower to gamers, and he has made the store a welcoming environment, Swankie said.
Joey Konopka, another gamer, said the store has opened the door to a lot of new people interested in tabletop and role-playing games. He’s met many new local gamers at Dark Tower during the store’s first month in business, he said.
“This place is awesome,” Konopka said. “It’s going to be amazing for the gaming community.”
Additional reporting by Brian Corey
All photos by Brian Corey