New board game store opens in Auburndale

Kimberly C. Moore

AUBURNDALE – Erik Henriksen, 43, from Winter Haven, and his wife, Jill, 42, have spent their weekends for the past two and a half years selling board games online and at band conventions comic and sci-fi, as well as Jill’s range of homemade and organic jewelry. know.

Now, the two avowed Dungeons & Dragons fans have taken their weekend business to the next level, opening their own board game store called FireBunny Games along Auburndale’s shopping corridor on Havendale Boulevard. A grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, November 9, which includes gift bags for the first 25 customers, as well as free use of the store’s game library.

“It will be family friendly for women and children,” explained Jill, an elementary school teacher on the day. She added that they had researched other board game stores across Florida to see what worked and what they could live without doing.

Two confluent events prompted the Henriksens to open the business earlier than their five-year business plan called for: Erik, who graduated from Winter Haven High School in 1994, was fired as a press clerk at The Ledger late May and her mother then sold her house, giving them a portion of the proceeds to help fund $ 17,000 in start-up costs.

The store is located at the north end of the Harbor Freight / Winn-Dixie Mall, a site they both spotted independently of each other and thought, “This would be a great location.” Then it sat vacant for two years, almost as if waiting for them. They also searched for a site in Davenport, but it was not as big and was a lot more expensive.

So far, they’ve amassed a library of almost 100 games that people can browse and play for $ 5 a day. They also have monthly passes of $ 25, $ 125 for six months, and $ 225 for the year. They currently have half a dozen long tables available for families and friends to play any of the games from Firebunnies or to bring their own game.

“Some modern games have big footprints and a lot of dining tables are small,” Erik said.

FireBunny’s library fee also includes the use of a game moderator, which makes role-playing easier.

A back room will be able to accommodate private games, birthday parties and also company team building exercises. As the store’s retail selection grows, they plan to move all gaming activity to the backroom. They currently sell action figures from popular games and fantasy series like “Game of Thrones” and “Star Trek”, as well as Jill’s soaps.

When asked how they met, the two looked at each other and smiled warmly. Jill explained that they met on the Geek To Geek dating site. Jill, a member of the Society of Creative Anachronism, asked him for coffee.

“He said, ‘I don’t drink coffee,’ so I had to think about it and I said, ‘Would you like to go out for some kind of drink? “” she laughed.

The couple’s successful marriage includes a 4-year-old son. Some researchers attribute good marriages and families to playing games together, especially board games, because they require face-to-face interaction.

According to John DeFrain’s book “Family Treasures: Creating Strong Families,” there are “six qualities that strong and successful families around the world exhibit: having a good time together; appreciation and affection for each other; positive communication; spiritual well-being (values, beliefs, life skills); successful management of stress and crises; and commitment to each other.

Allison Guinn, a local reporter who also lost her job in the May layoff, stopped by the store last week to support her former colleague, offering to serve as a game host.

“As a woman in her thirties who struggles to maintain social relationships through children, marriages, and careers, board games have become the lifeblood of maintaining those vital relationships,” Guinn said, 35 years. “Also, finding a store that is run, in part, by a woman is comforting as these spaces have not been very welcoming to women.

Dawn Walker also entered the store on her way home last week and told the Henriksens that she was happy the store opened.

“I play Dungeon and Dragons and there are very few game stores,” Walker said. She browsed the items for sale and bought dies, as well as soaps. “I’ll be back.”

Kimberly C. Moore can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7514. Follow her on Twitter at @KMooreTheLedger.

What: FireBunny Games Grand Opening

When: Saturday, November 9, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: 359 Havendale Blvd., Auburndale

Note: The first 25 customers receive free gift bags

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