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The businesswoman making a crusade of board gaming in Harrogate

Harrogate Convention Centre

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We spoke to the woman hoping to bring the joy of board gaming to Harrogate, with her new shop Games Crusade

Lisa Dyson (right) in Games Crusade
Lisa Dyson (right) in Games Crusade

IN a first for Harrogate Convention Centre earlier this year we welcomed hundreds of enthusiasts for a weekend of board gaming.

What started out as a group of friends meeting at home over a shared hobby has grown, within a few years,  into AireCon, a celebration of ‘analogue gaming’ where people of all ages gather to roll dice, deal cards and move counters around beautifully illustrated boards.

The success of AireCon is indicative of the surge in popularity for an alternative to video gaming, over the past decade. While old favourites such as Monopoly, Risk and Cluedo, continue to sell, a multi-million pound industry has grown around relatively new games like Talisman, 7 Wonders and Codenames.

With Christmas being the traditional time of year for families and friends to look for an alternative to the telly, we spoke to Lisa Dyson (on right of picture) , owner of Games Crusade, Harrogate’s newest toy and games shop, to find out about her business and discover what people are buying.

Lisa said: “I started selling toys from home on an evening as a part time business. My son, at the time, really loved playing board games. We had Carcasonne, which involves building a medieval  world, and we all loved it as a family but it was really hard to find other games of that nature.

“I started to do parties at home, which lasted for about 18 months, before I opened a little shop in Crosshills, just outside Skipton, and from there the business grew and I eventually moved into a bigger shop in Skipton itself, selling toys, games, puzzles and offering a service where children can build their own teddy bear.”

Games Crusade in Harrogate on Oxford Street
Games Crusade in Harrogate on Oxford Street

Lisa said she would often have people from Harrogate making a special trip to her store and saying the town needed a similar business. In October this year, after growing the Skipton store since 2010, Lisa opened Games Crusade on Oxford Street, in what used to be the Gaming Lodge arcade.

As well as the popular bear-making feature, the Harrogate business also stocks, crafts, puzzles and toys, but it’s with board games that the shop does most business.

 “Board games are definitely the thing that people seem to be into the most,” she says. “I love the fact that we know all the products here too. Somebody here will have played all the games in the shop, so we know what they are like to play and who they are aimed at.

 “I go to game fairs and exhibitions in Europe and the UK and exhibitions to research the products and that means we can sell things you wouldn’t necessarily find anywhere else.”

 With just two months of trading under her belt, Lisa’s short term goal is to make the most of Christmas and get the word out in Harrogate.

“I think a lot people don’t actually know we are here and think that the premises are still a fruit-machine arcade,” she explains.  “My plan now is to keep growing and develop a loyal customer base like we have in Skipton.

Finally, I asked Lisa for her recommendation for a family-friendly Christmas game.

“Doctor Eureka is really popular at the moment,” she responds. “It involves mixing molecules in a test tube and is real fast and furious family fun. It’s suitable for really young players too. That’s my Christmas tip.”

Games Crusade can be found at 13 Oxford Street in Harrogate or you can visit the website at www.gamescrusade.co.uk

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