Along with sharing my own Magic: the Gathering journey, I would like to share what's going on with others in the community. Not just the players, but the people that provide a place to gather. The Greater Cincinnati/Dayton area is fortunate to have a lot of options when it comes to Magic and gaming in general. Here's a glimpse into one of them.
Come On Down!
What's your name, the name of your store, and where are you located?
I'm Lannie Richardson and I'm the owner of The Illuminaudi in Hamilton, Ohio.
How did The Illuminaudi begin for you?
The store actually began out of a desire to refocus my life. I was heading down an unhealthy path and decided I wanted something better for myself. I was talking with one of the local game store owners and expressed an interest in running my own store. He told me he wanted to branch out into the Hamilton area and so after some back and forth, we started developing the store together.
I put everything I had and then some into it. After four years of planning, work, and the thousands of dollars I scraped together, the Hamilton branch of The Illuminaudi was ready. We opened for business July 3rd, 2014 (8-year anniversary coming up soon!). A couple of years later, that game store owner had decided to close his store. I then had the opportunity to buy the name and here we are!
When are you open?
We're open every day except for the major holidays.
How do you connect with your customers?
Facebook is our main connection. I'm working on a Discord channel, but it's still in the early stages.
What gaming experiences and events do you offer?
Magic: the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! are our main focus, but we do provide space for any games that people want to come in and play, like Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, etc.
What Magic experiences do you provide?
We run weekly events for Standard, Modern, and Commander. Standard has been touch and go, but our Modern events on Sundays and Wednesdays have been running well. Commander is our most popular currently. We have people playing Commander most every day, but have specific events on Sundays and Tuesdays.
Do you host any special events?
We consistently host Magic pre-releases, but I'm really looking forward to the Regional Championship Qualifiers. Details are coming soon and will be available on our Facebook page once Wizards sends us the information. We're currently scheduled for August 14th.
What are your most popular formats currently?
Our most popular competitive events are Modern. In the more casual arena, Commander is where it's at.
How did The Illuminaudi deal with and adjust to the pandemic?
When Covid first hit, there were definitely issues. Not just for my business, but personally as well. The initial hit was rough, but I put everything into my store. I was going to do everything I could to navigate the choppy waters.
I was able to work for Harry's House of Cards during the early months when the store was closed. With his help and instruction, I was able to expand and improve my own online sales. Harry was great; the experience forced me to organize my inventory and provide a better service to my customers.
Since everyone still wanted to play, but couldn't get out, we provided what they needed for at home use. This was a godsend to keep us going. Once everyone started coming back out and with our improved online sales, 2022 has been one of our better years.
What are your hot sellers for Magic?
We sell a crazy amount of Commander product, especially the Commander pre-constructed decks. I couldn't keep it in stock. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty was huge as well. I still get requests for that set.
How did you get started with Magic?
I was introduced to it in the 10th grade. I mainly played other card games at lunch with friends, but wasn't really into Magic. I didn’t know too much about the game until I was gifted a bunch of cards. My buddy Ryan, who was very much into it, taught me the basic rules.
Yu-Gi-Oh! was my main interest and I still wasn't hooked, so I traded to Ryan what I had collected at that time. Soon after, our local library became the place for everyone to meet up. Of course the free internet was a huge draw as well. I was hanging with a few guys that were really into Magic, so I joined in. We were all very much kitchen table level, nothing too serious.
Eventually Chris, a recent addition to our group, showed us there were different formats and really opened our eyes to the bigger picture. Along with that, Legends, Hamilton’s first real game shop, opened. And that’s when I came into my competitive streak. Onslaught was the latest set and I loved it and the competition. Onslaught is still one of my favorite sets.
I then left the game again, between Ravinca and Innistrad. When my desire to run a store started becoming a reality, and Return to Ravnica was the new set. I finally got back into the game and haven’t stopped since.
What do you personally enjoy playing?
I like most formats, but competitively, I enjoy Legacy the most. I don't get much time for it, but when I enter a tournament I'll play either ANT (Ad Nauseam Tendrils) or my version of Bant Stoneblade.
Of course, if I'm relaxing with the players at the store, I'll try to get into a Commander game every now and then.
What's one of your favorite Magic cards?
I have a few of them. In a competitive setting, I've loved Snapcaster Mage and Liliana of the Veil. Casually, it would have to be Sidisi, Brood Tyrant. I have an almost completely foiled reanimator deck that I've been tweaking for seven years headlined by the Naga Shaman.
To finish up, is there anything else you'd like to share?
I've worked hard get and keep this store going and try my best for people feel comfortable while they are here. I enjoy getting to know my customers not only in the store, but personally. There was one player that I became friends with through the store and he had unexpectedly died. I went into the store one day after his passing and the realization that he wouldn't be there anymore stared me in the face. My players and customers mean a lot to me.
The Illuminaudi has allowed me to stay positive and out of trouble. Even though it's not always roses, I'm very thankful for what I have. Making friends has been one of the best aspects of my role.
LGS Is Where the Heart Is
I want to thank Lannie for providing us a glimpse into The Illuminaudi's Magic life. I hope you enjoyed the visit and look forward to the next! Do you know the story behind your own LGS? Feel free to share in the comments. And if not, maybe now's a good time to get up to speed...