Calling all Geeks in Leicestershire! After the trials and tribulations of the ‘year’ that was 2020, there would be nothing better than having somewhere to meet with your friends again, to socialise in a way that is not through a screen. In which case, there is some great news for you, as coming soon to Leicester is an exciting new store that promises to indulge all your nerdy needs in a safe and chill environment to hang out in. A retreat for geeks almost. As it happens this store is appropriately called Geek Retreat.
A blossoming franchise, Geek Retreat has been opening stores all across the UK and Leicester is finally getting its own branch at 32 Cank Street, just a short walk away from the Clocktower and Leicester Market. Captaining this store is Joe and Sean, two gents who are proudly declared geeks and best friends. Sean sports some stunning facial hair and Joe is looking dashing with his pink hair. But both share an adoration for geeky things and their friendly and relaxed personalities.
They show up on screen, completely prepared to represent the brand in t-shirts of indigo and yellow, with the Geek Retreat logo on full display. Their excitement about the store is obvious throughout, as the conversation covers their many passions and big ideas for when they finally open. Indeed, there is no shame here in confessing how many times our interview went of into a tangent as many different aspects of geek culture were excitedly discussed.
Sean is a tabletop enthusiast and into anything to do with HP Lovecraft and Cthuluism. Sean said “I’m a massive boardgamer. I like the idea of everyone getting together and working together, and having some fun, interesting conversations. My first love that started my shift into boardgames was Dead of Winter, which is very Cthulu and Lovecraft inspired.”
Rather comically, the lads go on to explain his hatred for Monopoly, to the point where it is banished from their flat. Sean reveals he is also a movie buff with quite an extensive knowledge and during lockdown, with Joe’s encouragement, has started watching Anime. Hunter X Hunter is his favourite, and he relates to protagonist Gon Freecs and his kindness and honesty is something Sean identifies in himself. Not only that but he has gotten more into video games, with The Last of Us being his standout game, having played it twice, and is building himself up to play Last of Us II.
Joe on the other hand is big into his anime series, citing Gundam Suit: Iron Blooded Orphans as his current favourite, with Mikazuki ‘Mika’ Augus as his favourite character for his quirkiness, diligence, and no-nonsense attitude. Joe is also a massive Studio Ghibli fan and Howls Moving Castle is his favourite, while Sean likes to tease him over the Totoro sticker on his laptop. Joe’s favourite card game is Magic the Gathering, having composed several new decks over lockdown and has been more indoctrinated into a variety of boardgames by Sean. In contrast to Sean’s lawful goodness, Joe says he likes to be chaotic evil and thoroughly enjoys games of deception and betrayal to mess with people. You have been warned.
Whatever your niche is, Sean and Joe want the store to be a haven for people to come to and enjoy themselves and cultivate their interests, with comics, card games and boardgames being available for everyone to have fun with. For those who like to play tabletop games like Magic the Gathering, Warhammer, Vanguard, Yu-Gi-Oh! or Zombicide, to name a few, and need somewhere to play with friends, Geek Retreat offers all its tables for use for free. All that will need doing is to book a space and time and then show up to play!
Joe and Sean might even end up joining you. They’re eager to get some new challengers themselves, having played almost every card game and board game in Sean’s vast collection. They understand how much it will mean for people to get together again and play in each other’s company instead of through a screen which is just not the same. It’s time for some fun.
“There’s something to be said about being able to hold them [cards] all in your hands and the increased social interaction of being around a table with people. Sean has one of the biggest collections of board games I’ve ever seen, and during lockdown we’ve played all of them.” Joe says, while Sean chuckles.
What’s even better is that Geek Retreat will also be able to serve food and snacks for customers, so while playing with friends, people can have a tasty burger and a milkshake, or perhaps a coffee, and there will also be some American candy available. The shop will also be able to supply customers with a selection of merch, geek themed of course, including the necessary cards to build decks, games to play and nick-nacks to take home, when it can finally open its doors, after having to cancel the original plan to open for the 30th January.
Despite the setback of going into another lockdown, the lads have managed to keep the hype and momentum for the store going with their savvy social media, audience interaction and brainstorming of ideas for when they will open.
Their social media game has been on point to say the least. With Facebook being their main platform, Joe and Sean have kept interest and engagement going by asking topical questions about various geek interests and competitions with prizes for people to win when the store opens, and content for their Instagram account being in the works. Joe was very excited to reveal that starting from the week beginning the 25th January, the competitions, challenges and prizes will be taking a ramp up to be even more exciting.
In a post on their Facebook page on the 7th January, the lads posted to say, “Firstly we want to say a big thank you to you all! The response from the geeky community has been amazing, we didn’t think we could be anymore excited for our store to open but you have proved us wrong. Now that we are back in a national lockdown we have had to modify our plans but we aren’t going to let this stop us from doing our giveaway!”
Some of the ideas that they have come up with are to host themed nights for people to play specific games or tournaments as well as workshops to help players nurture their confidence and skills in games too, including a D&D DM (Dungeon Master) Academy to help people interested in running their own game. They are very excited about running a team system too once they have hired some colleagues and running some in-house competition, with Joe leading team Pikachu and Sean leading team Gengar.
Hopefully they will have sizeable teams as the number of applicants they have had for the job positions at Geek Retreat Leicester have been amazing and all look like promising candidates with the same level of energy and ambition that Joe and Sean show.
“I think one of the best things we’ve had about interested candidates is their enthusiasm about hosting event’s for things their passionate in. And we’re like ‘absolutely you can do that!’” says Sean.
Considering the undeniable impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Joe and Sean assured that the shop is well equipped to deal with any procedures required when they open. Perspex screens will be across tables for safe playing and social distancing stickers will be on the floor, and food will be organised as a takeaway type of service if needed. And of course, all staff will be provided with PPE while working in the store to give everyone a safe and comfortable experience, which will no doubt also be because of the hospitality of the staff.
With the lads charming optimism and ambition keeping up the hype and morale, and their audience interactions social media keeping people intrigued and eagerly anticipating a chance to visit, they are hoping soon to have a date where they can announce a grand opening for the store.
When its door finally opens, with Joe and Sean’s friendly energy and great ideas supporting it, Geek Retreat Leicester promises to be a much-needed haven and social hub for everyone with a geeky interest and open mind to enjoy. So when the day finally comes, be sure to rally your friends and get ready to escape to somewhere to geek out!
If you want to keep up to date with Geek retreat Leicester and be able to take part in the competitions, you can follow them at https://www.facebook.com/GeekRetreatLeicester.