Infinite Consortium Gaming has two locations: their original store in Sharon, Pennsylvania and their new location inside the Eastwood Mall in Niles. We sat down with Tom Vaughn, who owns the store with his wife, to find out what makes Infinite Consortium Gaming special.

What is Infinite Consortium Gaming?

What is it? So we are your local friendly game store. We have board games, card games, Dungeons and Dragons, puzzles, Legos, anything. Anything fun in the hobby.

Where did your love of all of this stuff start?

So a long, long time ago when I was a wee lad, I used to play Risk with my family. So that’s I think that might be where it started, but as I got older, I played a game called Magic The Gathering, and I used to go out to tournaments and you didn’t do well, do bad, you know, just have a good time; Make friends, make make lifelong friends. So I think that’s where it all came from.

How important is it to you to be able to offer that experience to new people through your shop?

It definitely feels great. The the amount of people that I’ve, you know, the customers that we’ve gone through like I want to say that I’ve made many lifelong friends just from people coming into the store, showing them how to play the game, and witnessing them grow up from kids to adults now like it’s, definitely nice to see them them grow up through the generations.

Do you get a lot of families that come in with parents who are trying to introduce this lifestyle to their kids?

Those are the best, right? Because when the parents want to play with their kids, with their hobbies, like, it’s always nice.

How did ICG get started?How did you go from being a gamer, being a hobbyist, to owning your own shop?

So it was nine years ago now me and my wife, we both had our jobs. I had my nine-to-five, I worked on a computer. She worked for the government, and we weren’t really happy we were at. And we thought that we could kind of bring this niche hobby into a more modern era. I feel like there was kind of like a negative stigma a long time ago. And I feel like it’s not like that. There’s so much more rich culture to this environment that I wanted it to be more in the current day.

What are some of the things you’ve done to modernize and try to move past that stereotype?

This environment is more of a male dominated environment, so my wife likes to bring in things that are more acceptable to women. To make them feel more safe. Make the store smell nice, that’s another big one. We do events specifically for women too. We have a ladies board game night that’s run by her. So that way you can come in, you get to play the games you want in a safe, fun environment. And it’s always nice when women tell you that, and they say they feel safe here, they’ll come here again. That’s one of the biggest, biggest compliments that you can get is that someone comes into your store and says, you know, I feel welcome here. It just feels good.

When people come in here, whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time, how do you want the store to make them feel?

So there’s a motto that I tell my employees that’s kind of like what we live by, it’s that we’re not looking for a sale here, we’re looking for a customer. So when they come in, it’s not just buy this board game, it’s not buy this book. It’s, here’s my experience with this item. And, is it right for you? It may or may not be. So we’re not trying to just sell you something. We enjoy the hobbies just like you. So we provide our experiences for you.

What’s your favorite thing about owning the business?

So my favorite thing is we do orders. And even though I do a lot of the ordering, when it shows up, it’s like Christmas and you open up the boxes and it’s all this new cool stuff, like, I don’t know, it’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s like Christmas every week. And then you get to bring it to people like that, letting them know that there’s this new cool thing coming out and it’s nice.

What do you want the community to know most about ICG?

I’d say thank you. Coronavirus was one of the scariest times of my life, right? Because my livelihood was on the line. We literally closed the doors for two months. We had no income for two months. Our cusers supported us through that time. And the best I can say is thank you. Like, I really appreciate it.

There’s a story I’ll never forget. We take in cards, right? And so typically we pay for them. Well, one cuser brought in cards so we could make money by selling them online and he took the store credit instead of actual cash. And then he bought stuff that day. So not only did he provide us with income through selling the cards online, but he also spent money that day. There’s so many people just like that that care about us. So honestly, just thank you.