April is a huge month for a longtime Calgary business that’s brought a lot of fun to a lot of families as it makes the leap from a small board to the big screen.
The Sentry Box is a shop specializing in board games and related items, but it’s certainly no ordinary store.
“As far as I know, we are the world’s largest game store,” Sentry Box owner Gordon Johansen said.
Calgary filmmaker Garry Snow has recently completed a documentary on the shop called, ‘Friendly Local Game Store’.
It’s a subject with which Snow has long been familiar.
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“I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons at a time when it was probably something you tried to hide away from all your friends in high school,” Snow said. “Gaming and nerd culture has become mainstream.”
The Sentry Box offers about 7,000 games on its shelves, attracting customers from all over the world.
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“Every continent except Antarctica,” Johansen said. “It’s almost like people make pilgrimages.”
Snow said Johansen deserves recognition for the work he’s put into his store.
“Gord is very humble and he doesn’t want to claim ownership of being the largest game store in the world,” Snow said. “But from my research it certainly is the largest game store, and Calgary should be proud of it.”
Johansen said much of the store’s success comes from the traditional appeal of board games.
“It’s social. People are so tired of looking at the computers all day,” Johansen said.
Snow said The Sentry Box is more than just a business.
“The documentary really shows how games can bring people together from diverse backgrounds for a common purpose.”
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Johansen has been gradually building up the store since opening in 1980.
“We started really small. Basically, I wanted cheap games for myself. That was the real reason that I did it,” Johansen said.
“Friendly Local Game Store” screens April 28 as part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival.
Johansen said he’s looking forward to taking the stage with Snow after the screening for a question-and-answer session with the audience.
“It’s still lots of fun – I love my job,” Johansen said. “I’m not allowed to retire, according to customers, because they’re worried about what would happen.”
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