- Real Estate
- Food & Drink
Feb. 11, 2021
By John Hult, for SiouxFalls.Business
Joe Hamerly really wants you to get into board games. Badly enough that he has built up a second full-time job’s worth of game-related activities to connect with other gamers and lure the uninitiated into the social activity that colors his world.
The lifelong Sioux Falls resident is the “Joe” behind “Average Joes Gaming” podcasts and videos, and the host of monthly themed game nights that run 13 hours or longer in the Tea Community Hall.
And soon, he and his wife, Jess, will launch Average Joes Gaming as a retail space that will feature no-strings access to his 1,500-game collection.
Each venture is a passion project, funded by his sanitation management salary. The primary objective is interaction, Hamerly said, not income.
“It’s hard to meet new people and make a connection these days because everyone’s head is buried in their phone,” he said. “That’s why I love board games so much. You get to have those face-to-face social experiences.”
The Hamerlys plan a Memorial Day weekend grand opening for their shop, located two miles south of Sioux Falls off the Harrisburg exit, in the same building as Coast 2 Coast Fitness. The opening will feature Sioux Falls cosplay superheroes, activities for kids and $1,000 in gift card giveaways.
The space is an outgrowth of the podcast, which started three years ago and began to pick up steam last spring with the addition of longtime Sioux Falls gamer Tom Chleborad as co-host.
They stream videos once a week, swapping stories about the games and gear each acquired between recordings, bantering about new games pitched on Kickstarter and generally talking tabletop. Jess Hamerly edits the more heavily produced “Average Joes” content for YouTube, while Hamerly edits the audio into monthly podcasts for listeners on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other apps.
The Average Joes branding is a nod to the intended audience, Hamerly said. The idea is to speak to people who might be curious about gaming but not curious enough to step into a room full of hardcore weekly gamers with decades of experience under their belts.
“It’s really for your average person,” he said. “A lot of gaming groups are full of really experienced players, and they can be kind of cliquey.”
The themed monthly game days in Tea have pulled in 20 to 30 people since November. The Hamerlys offer snacks for sale and a goodie table for kids. They take freewill donations for Sanford Children’s Hospital and guide players through the day’s offerings. The Feb. 20 event, dubbed “the love of gaming” in honor of its proximity to Valentine’s Day, will run from 11 a.m. to midnight.
Average Joes Gaming will become the home for those events once it opens, but the space is designed to let visitors re-create the experience on a daily basis. Much of the 1,500-game library will be there for gamers to try out in the play space. They can buy snacks or soda while they play or peruse a selection of new games available for purchase. There also will be four televisions with video game systems and video streaming services for visitors to use between sessions or while waiting for friends and family to finish up.
“You’ll be able to sit back and watch a movie while your kids play,” he said.
Visit the “Average Joes Gaming” podcast Facebook page or join the Facebook group to learn more about the podcasts, videos, game nights or the retail venture.
He calls himself an “Average Joe” though his passion for games is anything but – and now it’s leading him into a business.