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Louisville Game Shop closes after 18-year Highlands run

View of the yellow Louisville Game Shop sign, featuring a pair of dice, next to a set of concrete stairs and bushes. A converted gray two-story house with white trim is in the background.
Jacob Munoz
The Louisville Game Shop, which closed in January, operated in the Highlands since 2004.

Along a block filled with businesses like pizza parlors and pubs sits a building that has hosted parties with adventure in mind and offered games full of fantasy. The converted two-story house that formerly hosted a store now holds the memories of many who gathered there for fun and camaraderie.

The Louisville Game Shop, a popular spot for tabletop game enthusiasts, ended its nearly two-decade campaign of building community on Sunday. Colin Moore, the Highlands store’s founder and co-owner, announced the closure at the start of the month and offered steep discounts on all items before it shut down.

Moore cited co-owner Clay Hall’s health and the pair’s work burnout as the primary reasons for shutting down the store, which operated on 925 Baxter Avenue since 2004.

He said closing the business was mainly a personal, not economic, decision by the co-owners.

“I have done this long enough that I'm ready to move on with something else in my life,” said Moore, who added he hopes to have time off before deciding on a new job.

011523_Louisville Game Shop inventory_by Jacob Munoz
Jacob Munoz
The Louisville Game Shop's inventory dwindled as it offered liquidation sales ahead of its Sunday closure.

Location was an important factor in opening the store, according to Moore, who wanted to bring a game-oriented business within Interstate 264’s boundaries, near downtown and the University of Louisville. He also wanted to focus strictly on games, without including adjacent interests like comics and collectibles.

The shop had a game room, where groups could gather and play tabletops such as Dungeons and Dragons, a role-playing game, and Warhammer 40,000, a strategy game. Moore said he scheduled events there to build traction when the store opened.

“That gives people a reason to shop here. It drives their hobby. And it's key to selling all this stuff. And it also makes the job a lot more rewarding, and makes it feel like it's not just a store. It's kind of a community center,” he said.

011523_Louisville Game Shop game room_by Jacob Munoz
Jacob Munoz
Shelves full of games available to play lined the back wall of the Louisville Game Shop's game room.

The Game Shop’s closing prompted a significant local reaction, with its Jan. 3 Facebook announcement receiving dozens of comments expressing sadness and support.

Keith Rapp describes himself as a store patron for about 15 years. While playing the game Monsterpocalypse at the store with John Gammons on a recent Sunday, he spoke about the games he played and friendships he built there.

“I love it here, it’s a second home to me. I'm an avid gamer, been all my life. I was totally devastated when I heard the news,” Rapp said.

He aims to keep the connections made through the store alive.

“The plan is to continue moving strong, trying to build up a new community, a new location,” Rapp said.

011523_Louisville Game Shop Keith Rapp_by Jacob Munoz
Jacob Munoz
A longtime fan of the Louisville Game Shop, Keith Rapp plays Monsterpocalypse in the store's game room during its final days of business.

Gammons, a self-described regular prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Miso’s Game Room and Collectibles in Jeffersontown will be another meeting spot, but noted it’s an imperfect solution.

“People who come from Indiana I’m a little worried about, because they have to cross the bridge and then go all the way to the other side of town,” Gammons said.

Erik Goodwyn, another customer, said he’ll also miss the shop.

“It's not a place that I've been a huge amount, but over the years, frequent. And we've played games here as well. So you just hate to see a small business close up,” Goodwyn said.

After announcing the Game Shop’s closure, Moore said he saw a “revolving door” of people returning and reminiscing.

“Sometimes, you know, being a small business owner can feel like a thankless job, but it really is kind of heartwarming for people to either write to us or come in and talk to us about how much the store meant to them in certain stages of their life, and so on,” Moore said.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.