Joe Huber and Greg Fenske, business partners at The Dork Den, met in 2011 while working at a similar business. As the two discovered they held an identical passion for board games they decided it was time to try out some of their own business ideas.
Located one block north of their initial location on Riverfront Drive in Mankato, The Dork Den has kept a stream of comics, graphic novels and board games available for their enthusiasts.
“Originally, we had about 800 square feet in our other location,” Huber said. “After our initial year, we had found we had grown which required a larger space.”
During the summer of 2012, the Dork Den moved to its current location on Riverfront. By January of 2014, they expanded yet again, growing within their building to occupy 1,800 square feet for retail and nearly that much space for playing board games.
“Our play space is a big part of creating that community,” Huber said. “It lets our customers know that there are lots of other people out there who play these games as well. No one wants to spend $40 or $50 on a board game and then watch it sit on their shelf. We want to be a place where board gamers can meet people who play these games too.”
Throughout the week, The Dork Den hosts many events to accommodate and encourage game playing among their customers with entire evenings dedicated to activities like, Yu-Gi-Oh, miniature gaming, Dungeons and Dragons and board games. The nightly games kick off around 6:30 p.m. with a wide age range of game enthusiasts from teenagers to the elderly, all who enjoy a little friendly game competition.
“The idea of play has been vital to our business model,” Huber said. “We’ve found that our customers want a place to play and to meet other people.”