EASTON — Portals Games & Comics recently opened its doors at 415A E. Dover St. in Easton, near Domino’s.
Owners Wade Zulauf and Matthew LaCurts want to give locals and visitors the opportunity to shop for comics, role playing games, trading card games, board games, tabletop games and collectibles.
The 1,900-square-foot space is half retail and the other half play space for miniature gaming. There also are paint stations where customers can design their miniatures. They also host numerous events focused on different games, experience levels and play styles each night.
“This has been something I have been pursuing for at least 16 years. I met with (LaCurts) four years ago, working really close together,” said Zulauf. “I positioned the idea to him and then from there we started developing it more to what it is now. It’s an actual games and comic shop with play space.”
During their time working at a retail store together, both men worked on their vision after hours and even during the holiday season. They also did research on the Eastern Shore area to see where the best location would be.
No matter how long it took to put the business together, they felt it was the perfect time for their concept to come to life on the Eastern Shore.
“It has become a perfect time for shops like this to exist because of things like Kickstarter are really driving the board game industry right now,” said LaCurts. “New games are coming out constantly and people are really taking into unique board games. For the (play) side of things like Dungeons & Dragons, that have never thought of doing it in the past, and Stranger Things. For Magic, there is Magic Arena.”
Zulauf added that the incorporation of the internet and applications make it so much easier to fall into a game. The process to pick the inventory was also one they had to do research on. Both had to learn the market, look what games are popular and why, and also figure out what comics are popular.
“It was hours and hours of learning a day. Then you had to make decisions on what kind of stuff you want to sell like mainstream, or take a chance and have indie stuff,” said Zulauf.
Although the store only has been open for a week, there has been a positive reception in the community with the store filling up and visitors coming from as far away as Dover, Del.
“Everyone who has come to this store has been phenomenally receptive, and it has been a great community,” said LaCurts. “It’s great to see how receptive they are to other people as well. They will be playing a game, someone will be coming in and they may not know them yet, but they end up playing with them. We have had people from all over including Dover, Denton and Cambridge.”
LaCurts and Zulauf hope to expand both in inventory and location. They would like to stay in Easton because it is the most convenient hub to have people from the Eastern Shore to gather. They also wanted to let everyone know that it is a family friendly store where anybody who is new or experienced at comics or games to come in and feel comfortable.
“I think the biggest takeaway for people is customer service. That has been our driving force to make sure that everyone comes in here and feels comfortable coming in and leaving,” said LaCurts.
“We don’t want that elitist mentality where somebody is so good at this thing and we have gatekeeper employees and customers, where somebody that doesn’t know a thing can’t walk in and be accepted. We want people to come in and buy a product, and not be scared to ask or be afraid, and to be comfortable when they are here,” said Zulauf.
Portals Games & Comics is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 410-800-8787 or visit https://portalsshop.com.