REXBURG – When the Rexburg Standard Journal moved from its building at 23 South 1st East several months ago, John Stevens thought it fit well with his business concept.
He and his partners opened Blue Light Lobby, an electronic game and tabletop game store, in early November. Stevens describes it as a PC cafe where people pay fees to use “high-end gaming computers” to play video games with friends.
“It’s very popular in other countries, not so much in the United States,” Stevens said in a chat with EastIdahoNews.com.
In the long term, he sees the business model evolving into something like a gym, where people pay a monthly fee to join a specific class or club that focuses on the game they’re most passionate about.
“There are blocks of time where only people who are at this club can play. It’s about encouraging a community to grow around a common interest, whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons, chess or other board games, certain computer games or video games.” , he said.
Stevens says it’s a good start, but there are plenty in the area who don’t know they exist yet. He hopes to change that.
The idea for Blue Light Lobby was conceived about a year ago when Stevens and his friend, Ayden Rennaker, moved to Rexburg from Provo, Utah and started marketing online to homeowners. ‘business. Together they formed a business and after about six months realized that marketing for other businesses had its frustrations.
“They don’t always understand the big picture and we have no control over it,” Stevens says.
Slowly they started to move away from taking on more customers. Marketing jobs started to slow down as they downsized, but they still had all that computer knowledge and were eager to put it to use in some way.
They had both been playing video and other games for a long time and enjoyed it and thought there might be a market for some type of business in Rexburg revolving around that idea. As they started looking, they learned that there were already a few game stores in town, but none that focused on video games.
They spent a lot of time trying to figure out their business model, but ultimately decided the best thing to do was to do it.
“We happened to be lucky and find (this building). We had learned that they were renting this space that the old newspaper used and we thought it was a great location,” says Stevens.
There were several things they liked about the building. One reason was its proximity to the Brigham Young University-Idaho campus and the south side parking lot. There was also an abundance of electrical circuits along the walls as they had been used to print newspapers, and they needed them to house a bunch of computers.
They signed a lease and opened the business the first week of November.
“It worked well,” Stevens says in retrospect. “Little things fell into place and everything fell into place.”
Since launching, Stevens says they’ve built a significant following, but the numbers increase when they host weekly gaming events, like Super Smash Bros. tournaments.
They hope to continue to grow and help others enjoy this medium “in a healthy and meaningful way”.
“We both have a lot of friends at school who dropped out and play video games all day. It’s a shame and a big deal,” Stevens says. “We want to create a social scene… which facilitates (a community of people coming together to take advantage of a similar interest).”
He and his partners have several ideas they come up with and they are excited to refine and implement them. They are also eager to partner with other businesses to provide discounts and other benefits to customers.
Blue Light Lobby is open 4:00 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and 2:00 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Visit the website or Facebook page to learn more.