Athena and Evan Louscher recently relocated their game store, Games & Gizmos, to Kirkland. CATHERINE KRUMMEY, Kirkland Reporter

Businesses partner to create ‘geek paradise’ in Kirkland

Some Kirkland business owners have built what they’re calling a “geek paradise” inside an unsuspecting office building in Totem Lake.

Athena and Evan Louscher, owners of Games &Gizmos, have partnered with the owners of Verne &Wells — J.P. and James Sugarbroad and David and Troy Stansel-Garner — to open their businesses as cooperative neighbors at 11232 120th Ave. N.E. The result is what they are hoping is a one-stop location for gamers of all types and all ages.

Games &Gizmos (located in Ste. 101) is a game store with space for people of all ages to play board, card and role-playing games, while Verne &Wells (Ste. 103) is a clubhouse of sorts for adults who want a space to go where they can play video, board, card and role-playing games.

The owners of both businesses met at a convention a couple of years ago and they quickly became friendly — brainstorming ways they could work together.

“We needed to come up with something new … being able to put this in one location was our epiphany,” Athena said. “I feel like we have something here — a combination to make this a geek paradise.”

They plan to host events together and Verne &Wells members will get discounts on Games &Gizmos merchandise and discounted admission to the store’s special events.

Verne &Wells is, of course, named after beloved science-fiction authors Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. The naming trend continues with the club’s reservable game rooms, such as The Roddenberry Room, named after the famed “Star Trek” creator.

“It’s definitely a geek paradise in here,” Athena said.

Membership to Verne &Wells comes in three tiers: principal/basic ($40 per month), premium/full ($95 per month) and patron ($2,500 per year). In addition to the gaming space, access to an extensive game library and special events, amenities include 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week access to the clubhouse, complimentary snacks and beverages and a flexible guest policy.

A third space

While membership to Verne &Wells is limited to adults 21 and older, children are welcome at Games &Gizmos. Athena sees the space as a “third space” (after home and work) for anyone who is interested in role-playing, card and board games.

“I love the fact that this space is here and able to bring people together,” she said. “It’s meant to be a space for anyone to go — you don’t have to be a gamer or a geek.”

In addition to selling games, like Verne &Wells, Games &Gizmos has a library of games for patrons to check out and use on the premises.

“We are very family friendly; we have a lot of games for all ages, as young as 5,” Athena said.

Games &Gizmos recently relocated from Redmond to Kirkland, and they just completed the first phase of their renovations to the space, which includes resurfaced gaming tables, a fresh coat of paint, new steampunk-themed decor and airbrush stations for patrons to customize pieces of their games.

“We would love people to buy our products, of course, but we really want to see people coming here to use this space,” Athena said.

In addition to gaming events, Games &Gizmos is partnering with Geeks Who Drink to bring ticketed trivia events to the venue.

“Being a venue for geek-themed events is more in line with our goal of being that third space for people,” Athena said.

In addition to the Geeks Who Drink events, Games &Gizmos is also partnering with Hourglass Escapes to bring its portable escape room to the game store. They already partnered once for Games &Gizmos’ grand opening earlier this month.

“People had a lot of fun with that,” Athena said. “Geek and game culture is becoming prolific, we want to have non-intimidating events that are fun for new people.”

For more information about Games &Gizmos, visit gamesandgizmosonline.com or check out the store’s Facebook page at facebook.com/GamesAndGizmos.

For more information about Verne &Wells, visit vnw.club or call 844-PRO-GEEK (844-776-4335).

A Verne & Wells member uses the club’s screening room to play a video game. CATHERINE KRUMMEY / Kirkland Reporter

The board game library at Verne & Wells is extensive. CATHERINE KRUMMEY / Kirkland Reporter

A seating area at Verne & Wells directly connects to neighboring Games & Gizmos (through the door on the left). CATHERINE KRUMMEY / Kirkland Reporter

The decor at Games & Gizmos is steampunk-inspired. CATHERINE KRUMMEY / Kirkland Reporter

Games & Gizmos recently underwent some renovations, including refinishing gaming tables and adding a fresh coat of paint. CATHERINE KRUMMEY / Kirkland Reporter

Games & Gizmos has airbrush stations available for customers who want to customize pieces of their games. CATHERINE KRUMMEY / Kirkland Reporter

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