by Eric Monson
Posted 2/10/2014 12:00 am
Updated 10 months ago
The first thing owner Neil Reeves said in describing his Conway store, Mizewell Games? “We have no electronic games whatsoever.”
Instead, Mizewell is dedicated to games that require face-to-face interaction, namely board games, cards and tabletop miniatures, which involve small figures and sculpted terrain. The most popular choices at Mizewell — such as Magic: the Gathering and Warhammer — are recognized in mainstream culture, but there are many others.
Reeves and one of his two full-time employees, who owns 10 percent of the business, came from careers that were big in salary but low in personal satisfaction, and Mizewell represents an attempt to merge their passion and their livelihoods. “I’ve been a gamer my whole life,” Reeves said. “Sometimes, you gotta get your nerd on.”
Returning to Arkansas with his wife after 10 years away, Reeves personally invested in renting and renovating a 10,500-SF space at 2125 Harkrider St. Of the 6,800 SF of retail space, about 3,250 SF is dedicated purely to space for customers to sit and play.
Mizewell offers Warhammer and Warhammer 40K tournaments once a month and at least four Magic tournaments a week. Customers play throughout the day and the week, and there are 50 board games free to play in-store.
While the stay-and-play model isn’t unusual for gaming stores, Reeves pushes it further, into what he called “the employee hangout” model: He encourages his employees to play games on the clock, whether it’s to give a tutorial or simply to play with a customer who can’t find an opponent.
This model, while reflecting the employees’ personal interests, is also sensible in the context of the game business, where success depends on repeat customers.
While Mizewell does about 15 percent of its business online, its online presence is focused on keeping in contact with its customers via its Facebook page at Facebook.com/MizewellGames.