Generational Magic: Store Spotlight—Gem City Games

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Along with sharing my own Magic: the Gathering journey, I want 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 Matt Meily and I'm the owner of Gem City Games in Dayton, OH.

Matt, Owner of Gem City Games

When are you open?
We're open every day except for the major holidays.

How do you connect with your customers?
Through Facebook and our website.

What gaming experiences and events do you offer?
For Trading Card Games (TCGs), Magic: the Gathering and Pokémon are our major draws. We also delve a little into Flesh and Blood. We support our tabletop players with Dungeons and Dragons and our Board Game Night on Thursdays.

How did Gem City start for you?
It began as Schumer's Baseball Cards and Comics in the early '90s. Around 2009 the original owner sold the business and the new owner brought me in to manage the store. A couple of years later that owner decided to sell and I took the opportunity to buy it.

We officially became Gem City Games in 2011 and moved to our current location in 2015.

What Magic experiences do you provide?
We have Commander events on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Draft events on Fridays that fire pretty consistently, and a Saturday evening Pioneer event. Of course we support all the Magic Pre-releases, Store Championships, and similar events.

How did Gem City deal with and adjust to the pandemic?
Right before it hit, we received a call from another local store. They said they were going to suspend events and limit access into their store. We decided to follow suit and informed our customers, and lo and behold, the next week the state closed everything up.

In response, we developed our online service, provided curbside [pickup], and created a temporary discord server to keep in touch with everyone as best as we could. Whatever we could do to keep things moving. It was difficult for a while, but after the restrictions were relaxed and people started feeling more comfortable coming back into the store, we've been fortunate to bounce back to where we were at before.

What are your hot sellers for Magic?
Specific Commander cards are the most sought after. All of the staples; shocklands and fetchlands, of course. Rhystic Study, Smothering Tithe, Cyclonic Rift, etc. Even the smaller items, like the Talismans (Conviction, Resilience, etc.).

How do you make Gem City special for the players?
We work to make our store very welcoming to everyone. I believe we have a good atmosphere for anyone to come and play. Being close to a few universities, we have our fair share of students coming in, but not as many as you'd think. At least for us, our average age skews more toward the upper 20's, so we do get a variety of customers. We also get a decent amount of employees from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Magic and the Military have generally worked very well together.

Want to play some Commander?

When did you get started playing Magic and what do you personally enjoy playing?
I started back around Revised. I've enjoyed many different types of play, but my favorite has been Commander. I like to build decks that are off the beaten path; put a little twist in them.

With all of my focus on the store, I don't play much anymore. I still follow the game and keep up on the trends. I say no one ever quits Magic, they just take breaks!

What's one of your favorite Magic cards?
Definitely Animar, Soul of Elements. He was one of my first Commanders. I would tweak the deck to not be the "standard" Animar deck, but try to use him in different ways that people normally wouldn't.

To finish up, is there anything else you'd like to share?
One interesting aspect of the store, for me personally, is that it's forced me to grow. I'm normally a pretty shy guy, but running a business, meeting so many people, it's helped me to better myself and make many friends. Gem City is going strong and I'm looking forward to what the future holds.

LGS Is Where the Heart Is

I want to thank Matt for providing us a glimpse into Gem City'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...

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