Small businesses supporting you

Locally owned business The Game Ogre impacts the Oak Park community

The door opens with a burst of cool, refreshing air. The smell of new plastic fills his nostrils as he examines the brightly-colored miniatures enclosed within the glass case. He passes statues of dragons, superheroes and the old gods as he makes his way down the narrow aisles.

This store is everything that Brian Reid has worked for, and everything that he is trying to keep.

Small locally owned businesses are at the heart of towns like Oak Park. Brian Reid’s store, The Game Ogre, adds to this heart. The Game Ogre has a wide variety of tabletop and roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons or Warhammer. However, when he was first starting out, obtaining stock and keeping the store afloat proved to be harder than expected.

“Having a business for the first time, you realize just how naive you are,” Reid said. “There are a lot of fees associated with owning a business that are invisible. When you are doing your pie chart to see how much this is all gonna cost, it’s really an illusion.”

Losing an initially furrowed brow, an embarrassed smile seeped into Reid’s face. As he remembered his old self, he looked past me as if an old family video had popped into his head.

“I created a business that I loved. I loved what I sold so I wanted some of that,” Reid said. “Early on I would just take stuff from my store. I thought ‘this is great, I’ll take it. I already own it anyway,’ but in reality you’re losing money.”

Reid is not the only person who finds value in his products; customers such as senior Nikhil Kalakota share this sentiment.

“[The] Game Ogre is a great way to just get some stuff to entertain myself. It’s all about the imagination and that’s what they are selling,” Kalakota said. “I think [small businesses] add personality to a town.”

Achieving success does not come easy in the world of small business retail. Reid had to put the needs of the store in front of his own needs before the gaming community would support him.

“In the beginning I’d work there all the time, every day, 50 or 60 hours a week. It was just that’s how many hours I needed to put in,” Reid said.

In Reid’s case, his hard work resulted in success. When people enter the store, they are greeted with a life size C3-PO (a giant golden robot that found recognition in the “Star Wars” franchise). The cheers and sighs of many gamers can be heard as they stand over an elaborate model of a kingdom. Reid learned and grew, and his business grew with him.

“The more the store grew, the more I was able to hire people. I hired one good person years ago … thankfully [that person] is just the best worker I’ve ever seen in my life,” Reid said.

Through hard work and smart decision making, Reid was able to provide a new gaming experience for those in his community. Now it was time for his community to provide for him.

Teenagers like Kalakota are not the only ones interested in the products that Reid sells. 54-year-old Oak Park resident Glenn Fuller also frequents The Game Ogre. 

“If I could buy something online or if they have it at [The] Game Ogre, I’ll try to go to [The] Game Ogre and support them because I like what they do for the community,” Fuller said.

It was the usual day at The Game Ogre. Reid was sitting at the register when he noticed the door close. He leaned over the counter and saw a boy no older than eight years old. Like most eight-year-olds, he only had a few dollars in his pocket.

“The parent dropped him off which I thought was a little weird, but he wanted to learn how to paint miniatures,” Reid said. “I gave him a ton of my old paints and just the look on his face. It was amazing and he was so grateful. I hope that kid goes on and becomes a great painter, or at least took some joy in it.”

It is no coincidence that The Game Ogre ended up being located in Oak Park, on the corner of Lindero and Kanan. Reid felt a connection to the people of this town and knew he could provide for them.

“Many people thought I was stupid. ‘Why aren’t you closer to the freeway,’ they would say. I really thought it would be good to be in this neighborhood. It paid off because of the support from this community, there are many schools around me,” Reid said. “I know everyone’s first names and they support us. We aren’t just some place you can go and buy stuff, we are some place you can go and meet a friend.”

Although starting a small business has its challenges, Reid was able to create a safe place for gamers and families. He created a unique store for the people of Oak Park to enjoy.

“It wasn’t made out of a business decision, it was more of that this was my dream business,” Reid said. “I have some advice … don’t listen to anyone that tells you what to do. Do what you want to do and follow your heart.”