Soon after Adam McCormick and a few partners opened a hobby shop in White Rock in 1994, the latest-and-greatest game played in the schoolyard was the “Pog boom.”
“I thought I was going to be rich,” McCormick told Peace Arch News Wednesday, adding that people were lined up at the door of his new business to purchase the Pog-branded milk caps needed for the game.
Formerly known as Foot’s Hobby Shop, McCormick bought out his partners in 1999 and re-branded the shop to Grey Haven Hobbies and Games.
It has been at the same location, 1289 Johnston Rd., ever since.
A little older and wiser, McCormick said he’s less likely to jump on the latest fads that spring up from time to time.
“The crazy fads that can make you a lot of money really quick have died out,” he said, adding that he’s “infinitely more conservative.”
“Back in the day, I used to take a lot of swings and misses.”
In the ’90s, the store walls were lined with comic books. Making up about 80 per cent of the inventory, comic books were the store’s bread-and-butter and very much a part of McCormick’s interest.
Not only did comic books keep customers returning, McCormick said the store wouldn’t have made it through a particularly rough patch if it had not been for a specific collection of The Amazing Spider-Man that he had been sitting on.
McCormick said he traded his dirt bike for a bunch of Spider-Man comics in his youth, and when the real world came knocking, he sold them to keep the store afloat.
Although Grey Haven Hobbies and Games still has a considerable collection of comic books for sale, once they’re all sold, they won’t be replaced.
It’s a sign of the times, McCormick agreed.
McCormick’s store now features a curated collection of board and card games – specifically, the popular Magic the Gathering.
Magic the Gathering – a trading-card game where players are able to customize a deck with cards of their choosing – has more than 10,000 unique cards to choose from.
Semi-regular Grey Haven customer Declan Garayt-Wright, who was shopping when PAN was interviewing McCormick, said one Magic card, a Black Lotus, recently sold for $60,000.
“They’re not all that expensive,” McCormick added, moments after he priced out a card at 50 cents for Garayt-Wright.
Grey Haven plays hosts to three Magic events per week. People commute from Vancouver to participate in the friendly competition.
An added bonus, McCormick said, is the game nights bring business to the area. Often, players step out to grab a crepe from Tabletop Crepes and Games or make a small purchase at a nearby store.
Although Magic the Gathering has been steadily drawing customers to the store, “the last few years board games have really started to take off.”
The shelves at Grey Haven are lined with board games, everything from traditional chess and cribbage to new releases. McCormick says he stocks the shelves based on recommendations from customers and reviews of game ratings online, another resource that wasn’t available 25 years ago.
Garayt-Wright agreed that there has been a “resurgence of board games,” something he chalked up to crowdfunding websites, which help game designers launch their product.
But all games aside, McCormick said that his biggest achievement throughout his career has been being able to connect people.
“The web of connections that have been made here are bonkers,” he said, while recalling that two of his customers – who fostered their relationship in his store – eventually got married.
As far as keeping an eye on ‘the next big thing,’ McCormick has an idea of what might make a comeback.
“Pogs… it’s the only thing that hasn’t come back in 25 years,” he laughed. “It has to come full-circle.”
Grey Haven celebrated its 25-year anniversary on Jan. 17.