Milwaukee’s nerd community is getting spoiled these days. The city has several excellent comic book shops to help folks keep current on today’s big crossover events that will become tomorrow’s tentpole summer blockbusters. Board game stores around the city hold tournaments and offer store copies that the curious can try before they buy. There are even several different pubs where nerds can argue about comic books while playing board games and drinking. But sometimes, the itch to kick in a door, slay some goblins, and pocket some loot just has to be scratched. Table Top Hobby Game Shop, located at 2863 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue, hopes that the nerd community will stop in and pretend to be elves for a little while.
This small store, tucked in next to the Cousins Subs under the Bay Plaza Apartments, has the comforting feel of a dedicated playing space found in parental basements all across Milwaukee. The store has a small selection of staples like Magic: The Gathering, Warhammer, and Dungeons & Dragons, thanks to the small customer base that’s already popped up at the store. There are already some regular D&D 5th Edition and Pathfinder games on the schedule. Owners George and Theresa Baker want to make their store an accessible play space for gamers who don’t have big tables or can’t host games.
The Bakers opened the shop because, while Milwaukee has a variety of excellent game stores, most of them are in the suburbs, like Board Game Barrister and Game Universe, or focus on Magic sales, like Elements of Gaming or Pink Bunny Games. The Bakers loves RPGs and want the space to host all sorts of games, ranging from long-term campaigns to one-shots where designers can show off their latest creations. RPGs are usually a small section of bigger games and comic stores, so focusing on showing off these products (and ordering them directly for customers) is a big part of the Baker’s key to success.
The store has only been open for a few weeks, and the Bakers are still adjusting the hours and in stock inventory. Still, they have some grand ideas for the future. To coincide with the South Shore Frolics parade on Saturday, July 11, the store plans to have Renaissance reenactors participate in the parade, complete with a small festival in the store (and the parking lot) for maximum time-paradox fun. Once the holidays roll around, Table Top Hobby Game Shop plans to use its powers of cosplay for good, by dressing as Warhammer 40K Space Marines to collect charity donations for the VFW Hall located across the street.
The Bakers hope to connect with other game stores in the community, primarily through a shared campaign idea that’s half dungeon crawl and half pub league. Bars sponsor softball and volleyball leagues, so Table Top Hobby Game Shop wants to apply that logic to nerd games as well. Could there be a league where two Android: Netrunner teams face off and then head to 42 Ale House afterwards to tell war stories over celebratory drinks? Only time, and Augury, a second level divination ritual that requires 25 gold pieces worth of material components, can say.