Best Gaming Store - 2003
The Gathering Ground
At first glance, the Gathering Ground looks like any other successful gaming store. Long tables are crowded several days a week with kids playing collectible-card games such as Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Legend of the Five Rings, Lord of the Rings, etc., along with the new generation of popular WizKids figurine-based games, such as Mage Knight and HeroClix. Young employees behind the counter are selling cards and supplies at a good clip (especially on the weekends). Snack and soda machines are essential for the required Mountain Dew and Doritos to fuel the mental machinations. What makes this place special? Owner Jason Wohlford is both a wholesaler and a retailer, so his prices are right up there with the best in town (HeroClix boosters are $5/sleeve). It seems the only way to pay less for this stuff is to buy it at the infrequent gaming-supplies auction (hey there, Fantasy Shop St. Charles!) or a fanboy convention. The Gathering Ground recently moved to the Hampton Avenue space, which is large and airy -- all the store needs now is some cool decorations, maybe illustrations of Magic werewolves or warriors slaying the unlucky. Another bonus: the store dog. Heidi the English mastiff likes to be petted.