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Dubuque comic book and gaming store owner gets creative to keep community together amid pandemic

Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 11:27 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The people at Comic World and Games really pride themselves on the world they have built around gaming, specifically when it comes to in-person tournaments.

Those tournaments, though, are not happening anymore since they cannot hold them because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As loyal customer Ivy Hayward said, this is something that has brought quite a few people together.

”The last, maybe, eight years I have gotten really into Dungeons and Dragons and I started out as a player going on Tuesday nights,” Hayward said.

Eventually, Hayward started running her own games at the store, but that is something she has had to press pause on for now.

”It feels very isolating,” Hayward said. “When you are in the shop there is this great sense of community at Comic World; even if you do not know someone’s name you recognize their face.”

Ben Snyder, who owns the store, said he knows most of his customers by first name because he sees them often as live events are the main attraction at his store.

”One of the reasons why we wanted to move this space was to have a great environment for folks to compete, like, in larger events,” Snyder said. ”I had tons of tables, tons of folks engaged in gaming.”

Snyder said he has had to make a real shift: from in-person tournaments to diversifying his product line to avoid shutting down.

”We have expanded the number of board games, more shelves, more different kinds of games,” Snyder said. “I have specifically brought in two-player games more often, so that you can still play at home with your significant other.”

Like in every good comic, the challenge seems intimidating, but like every good hero, Snyder is staying optimistic. His goal? Keeping his fans and friends together.

”We are just trying to do the best we can for our communities to provide them with, whether they are looking for entertainment in the form of books, or a game night with the family, time to spend together or just an escape from everything that is happening right now,” Snyder said.

Snyder said he is hoping to build an online community soon.

The idea is for people to congregate and play games online, away from the risk of the coronavirus.

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