Students who are fans of comic books, card games, role-playing adventures and any board game under the sun can rejoice, as they now have a safe haven here in Orange City. This arrived in the form of a new store named OC Games and Comics, which opened a month ago.
Some students are already aware the new shop opened up, but many had no clue Orange City had such a place.
The store can be a little hard to locate. It is in the some shopping plaza as Los Tulipanes and the movie theater, tucked around the back side. From the outside the store may look like a large mechanic’s shop, but it’s the right place.
The owners and founders of the store are three old high school friends who graduated from MOC-Floyd Valley High School. Together, they were able to fund and construct the store, and take turns manning the counter.
One of the three co-owners of OC Games and Comics, Seth Riphagen, described the long process of opening the shop.
“We worked on this for about one and a half to two years,” Riphagen said. “We started a group on Facebook where we would find a space that we could hang out at for a night, and then we’d just go online and tell people, ‘Hey everyone, come on over and play some Magic,’ or whatever other game we were playing that night.”
“We started getting a regular group every week, but we were always having to change the venue,” Riphagen said. “We were actually in the Mexican restaurant Los Tulipanes for a while. We paid them by working, we helped tear out the old movie theater seats and such. We had a budget, and had our loans ready to go, we just had to find a place.”
“We talked to the chamber of commerce and people willing to rent out their spaces,” Riphagen said. “Either they would rent it out to someone else or it wouldn’t work for us. So this is a garage… but it is definitely cheaper than any of the other spaces we were looking at renting. A majority of that time was spent floating around waiting for people to get back to us.”
Once the three friends had found a space, opening the store became more of a reality.
“The first thing we had to do was build all of the counters, walls and shelves,” Riphagen said. “Our neighbors are the kitchen to the Mexican restaurant, and if you listen closely when the theater is playing an action movie you can occasionally hear some bass.”
Although they didn’t start out with much, they were able to turn the space into a very comfortable and professional looking shop. There is display space on the walls for all of their inventory, as well as storage and a bathroom.
Riphagen was partially inspired by a store in Ames, Iowa. The store had plenty of seating to hang out and play games in. OC Games and Comics has a similar feel, with several tables set up for customers or visitors to use.
“Most of our products are geared toward high school and college students, but students don’t have much disposable income, so usually one of the friends will buy a game and then they’ll get together to play it,” Riphagen said. “Older customers, on the other hand, have more disposable income so they will buy multiple games for their collections.”
Because the owners realize college students aren’t made of money, they encourage students to come in and hang out, even if they aren’t purchasing anything.
“Selling games and comic books is basically how we are going to make money, but you are more than welcome to bring in your own games and hang out and play,” Riphagen said. “Or if you have a game that you want to play but don’t have enough people to get a game going, we’ll play it with you. There isn’t a single game that I would refuse to play.”
There are around five games that anyone can come in and try out.
“You have to get over two hurdles to come here,” Riphagen said. “One, is this too nerdy for me? Can people see me playing this in public? I’m already going to be the nerdiest guy in here, so what are you going to do, try and ‘out nerdy me?’ And then, don’t be intimidated. Most people are pretty nice, and want more people to play your game, so I would say it is a welcoming atmosphere.”