Hexagon Board Game Café is steadily becoming a staple in the Kensington landscape. After opening in July of 2016, owners Randy and Kellie have been working to bring the world of modern board gaming to Calgary. The couple met at the University of Manitoba in the Architecture program and graduated in 2008 at the start of the economic downturn.
“We spent many of our unemployed nights playing board games with each other and with friends. Then after some time of unemployment, we made the decision to go to Korea to teach English.”
The now-engaged couple spent a year in Korea where they discovered board game cafes, which were losing popularity there while gaining popularity in Canada. Gaming became a way for them to meet people from around the world and socialize with the other foreign teachers.
“We loved that people from all over the world could bond over a game, and we thought it would be a great opportunity to bring it back to Canada. ”
Six months after moving back from Korea, Randy and Kellie eventually found jobs in their field, but quickly found they were unhappy in their corporate roles. Kellie was the first to leave her job and began the search for a space to open a board game café.
“We had always talked about starting a café, but it was just a dream for a long time. We knew we would regret it if we didn’t take the chance, so we saved every dime we could.”
Kellie began the search for their first space in Edmonton, spending the majority of the summer scouting locations before moving to Edmonton in the summer of 2013. The couple opened the first Hexagon Board Game Café in August of 2014 on Whyte Ave in Edmonton. Kellie worked as a Project Manager during the day, then ran the café at night before Randy left his corporate job in Calgary and moved to Edmonton in January of 2014. After Kellie left her job in March of 2015 they began thinking about opening a café in Calgary, a dream they both shared for a long time.
“In Calgary, it was Kensington or nothing. We found our current space and fell in love with it, but figured it was out of our league. We put in an offer anyway, and managed to secure the space.”
The Calgary café is home to about 500 games, while Edmonton has over 600. The couple still travels between locations every 2-3 weeks to maintain the connection with each business, its customers, and the community.
“We love Kensington because it’s like a little town within Calgary. It has such a strong community feel, with customers who live in the neighbourhood. It allows us to build strong relationships with the people who come to the café.”
With two successful cafes, Randy and Kellie have been able to see the positive impact gaming can have on social interaction. From first dates, math classes and individuals with learning disabilities to families of all ages, gaming is something accessible to everyone.
“It’s important to re-connect with the non-digital world into an interactive and social activity that requires thought and strategy. It’s a great alternative to the bar scene, or your typical coffee shop, especially with all the options with today’s modern games.”
When asked about their advice for other business owners in the area they recommend attending community events and supporting other businesses on a daily basis.
“It’s a small community, and all the business owners know each other so it’s important to support each other. We also recommend thinking critically with everything you do, think things through and make smart decisions.”