At Board Game Gumbo, we like to “run the roads” (courir les perron — which in Cajun French directly translates to “running the porch”). We travel for fun, for business, and for family. And when we are out running the roads, we like to visit local game stores. We even like to support those stores by purchasing a game! With homage to Greg, the traveling gamer from The Dice Tower fame, let’s talk about a great game store in the “Hub City” of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Allons marcher!
Hattiesburg is located in Southern Mississippi, just a few hours north of New Orleans, and just a few more hours from the Gulf Coast beaches. Hattiesburg is best known as the home of the University of Southern Mississippi, whose stadium is nicknamed “The Rock.” It is also known as a paradise of outdoor pleasures, like kayaking down the Okatoma River or exploring the Natchez Trace.
But, it should be equally known to gamers in the Deep South as having one of the best game stores around, Top Tier Board Games. On a recent visit, I made a pass by the game store looking to pick up a good game to play around the dinner table with my lovely bride. The store is set back in yet another strip mall, but had a pleasing sign to light the way to the corner of the parking lot.
Inside, I found a relatively small store in size but a giant when it comes to gaming spirit. For such a small footprint, the store packs a wallop. The front area has a ton of tables, filled to the brim the night I went with Magic players and X-wing gamers. The right side has four or five large shelving areas with all of the latest games, and tons of classic and old favorites, too. There is an ample area of X-wing and other Star Wars collective games, and even a large selection of Haba games — the first time I have ever seen a display like that in the South (but not the last…)
The owner of the store saw that I was browsing, but not a familiar face, and introduced himself to me. He asked a few questions about the kind of games that my wife likes. After talking about the hobby, he steered me toward New York 1901, which he said was about to go on a side table for a special Christmas sale that he was doing to encourage locals to try hobby games. He said it was the perfect game to introduce to new gamers, but also had plenty enough strategy choices to satisfy any veteran gamer. But since I was not from town, he offered to give me the very generous discount, and of course, I couldn’t resist. Months later, it is still one of my wife’s favorite games, and so I am glad that the owner helped me out. What a great recommendation.
I love it when a local game store owner does it right — clean tables, ample lighting, good prices, great selection, nightly (and I mean EVERY NIGHT) special events, knowledge of the hobby, and a friendly atmosphere. Top Tier Board Games does it right, and so if you ever find yourself “running the roads” in southern Mississippi, make sure you make a pass by and pick up a board game or three.
Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!