Tucked away near the Dempster CTA Purple Line station, the Gamer's Asylum store serves the eclectic college town of Evanston with a range of board & card games, miniature games, RPG games and places to play. It is run by a father & son team, Mark and John Peters. They have been in Evanston since June of 2008. They just recently moved to their current location of 615 Dempster in April of 2009.
It is easy to find Gamer's Asylum given it's location near the CTA station and it is in a prime location for commuters to pass by and visit. Parking can be challenging as the corner of Dempster and Chicago is in a shopping area of Evanston and there is mainly street parking. There is a parking lot behind Gamer's Asylum, but you will need to ask the store for a permit to put on your dashboard.
Gamer's Asylum is in an older Evanston building, and they've made excellent use of the space that they have. Mark Peters explained that when they first opened, they concentrated on miniatures such as Warhammer, but they've recently begun stocking a lot more boardgames and other books. The shelf displays are nicely open. I was very pleased to see a wide variety of RPG products displayed, ranging from the obvious selection of latest Wizards of the Coast Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder to indie RPG books. They also can do special orders as well. Given the size of the store, they can't support hosting a lot of out of print/older games, but that's quite understandable.
Gamer's Asylum hosts some regular game sessions, one of which is a D&D 4E night every Tuesday, as well as Warhammer, Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer Fantasy. They are also open to pickup games. They have two fold out tables and 4 smaller miniature gaming tables. They've made good use of the narrow back rooms to promote miniatures gaming.
Mark Peters described his plans for 2010 as a lot of "more"; more tournaments, more boardgames, more demos and more Warmachines. Gamer's Asylum supports many of the publisher-sponsored events like Worldwide D&D Game Days and FreeRPGDay. Mark is a very enthusiastic gamer and he clearly likes connecting with the community - their "corkboard" is actually one of the windows of the store and there were a lot of fliers there - this just fits with Evanston's college/eclectic style.
Overall, I liked this store as an example of how a gamer store should start out. They are small enough to be nimble and responsive to the market (moving into boardgames, while increasing support for miniature gaming) as well as being open to all types of gamers. I didn't have a chance to run a game there yet, but I have no doubt that Gamer's Asylum would do their best to accommodate any group. I'm looking forward to trying it out! This store has a lot of promise and I look forward to coming back and seeing how it grows.
For my review, I rank Gamer's Asylum as follows:
- Overall impression of store: 8 out of 10
- Type and number of games available: 8 out of 10
- Support of gamers: 8 out of 10
- Customer service and knowledge: 8 out of 10
- Overall: 8 out of 10
Go: If you live in/near Evanston, you want to pick up games/miniatures you won't find in the big-box stores in the area, you're looking to play a game they run a regular event for.
Don't Go: If you're looking for older/out-of-print or rarer titles or if driving into Evanston is inconvenient.
615 Dempster St
Evanston IL 60201