Lisa Vidaurri Bowling Special to The Monroe News | The Monroe News
Our House Games helps families unplug for an old-fashioned game night.
Owned and operated by LaSalle residents Kristian (Kris) Bezeau and Erika Branstetter, the game store located at 1211 S Monroe St. sells and borrows games to customers.
“A lot of people think that we are a video game store when they see our signage. We assure you that we are a tabletop gaming store. We are ‘unplugged.’ We sell games that are not electronic and are played around the table with family and friends,” Branstetter said.
“We carry family games, board games, card games, role-playing games, miniatures games and gaming accessories. Our focus is, and has always been, to bring people of similar interests together to share in some fun and social time. We have a game library for customers to borrow and play whenever we are open. Families and friends can come into our store, pick a game off of the library shelf and play it in the game room for free!”
Prior to the pandemic, through the store’s rental program, customers could select a game off the shelf and for a small fee take it home for three days to play it with family and friends.
Each game has a color-coded tag that identifies an appropriate age group along with the rental fee and cost to purchase the game.
“If someone rents a game and then decides they’d like to buy it, we take the rental fee off the purchase of the new game,” she said. “Once the Covid situation calms down, we will restart our rental program.”
The independently owned and operated business started in 2007 after the couple had run a home-based online specialty gaming store.
“Kris has always been a gamer. His family has played board games and card games for many years,” she said. “He has been playing Dungeons & Dragons since he was young. It was always an interest of his to own a gaming store and to be able to offer to others the joys that he had growing up.”
Along with owning the store, Bezeau works as a mortgage loan officer. Branstetter, who manages the business, has more than 25 years’ experience in customer service and administration. Both agree staying up to date on the gaming industry requires dedicated effort.
“We travel to gaming conventions, distributor’s events and read a lot of content in gaming magazines,” she said. “We also receive hundreds of emails every week that we go through to find the right games for our store. It’s hard to stay on top of things if you aren’t diligent.”
Branstetter explained why role-playing games have gained popularity over the years.
“RPGs have been around for a very long time. They have traditionally been played in person, around the table with pencil, paper, and dice but there is a growing trend in online role-playing games,” she said. “Role-playing games have taken a turn for the better since they have become socially acceptable. You can honestly find any kind of game out there for any kind of interest. Since television shows and movies have presented gaming in a positive way, there are no limits to the possibilities anymore. You don’t have to be labeled geeky or nerdy to enjoy a nice game of Dungeons & Dragons and that’s awesome!”
Along with selling games and accessories, the store features a game room for customers and hosts a variety of activities including miniature gaming, Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic: The Gathering tournaments, casual play and role-playing games and painting events.
Monroe resident David Rousselo often sets up his Warhammer 40,000, a miniature wargame, on one the back tables in the game room. Rousselo started building his collection six years ago and estimates he has 1,000 pieces.
“I set up on Mondays around 4 p.m. to run, play and teach the game,” he said. “In the genre of large-scale war gaming, this is one of the most popular games to play.”
“Each day has a focus for a game or a set of games and provides an opportunity for all of our customers to stop in to enjoy a bit of gaming,” Branstetter added. “We enjoy bringing people together, making new friends, interacting with and staying in touch with old friends and being able to see others having fun and enjoying themselves.”
Lisa Vidaurri Bowling is a contributor to The Monroe News.
Our House Games
Location: 1211 S Monroe St.
Owners: LaSalle residents Kristian (Kris) Bezeau and Erika Branstetter
Business started: 2007
Services: Tabletop gaming store featuring family, board, card, role-playing, and miniature games including gaming accessories.
Hours: Noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday