By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused an unexpected surge in game and puzzle sales among those quarantining with family.

After less than a month in business as The Gaming Goat, Mark Gorden has witnessed this—and maybe did a little game shopping himself.

“People are looking for puzzles,” the North Phoenix man says. “We’re trying to order puzzles right now. During the height of the pandemic, I was going to game stores and dropping a lot of money on games.”

The Gaming Goat is the largest board game/role playing-specific retail chain in the United States and is the largest Kickstarter game retailer in the world. The Gaming Goat also carries full lines of Pokemon TCG products and supplies.

The Norterra store also carries Dungeons & Dragons products, Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon cards, and card games like Mille Bornes.

“There’s a complete mix of people coming through the doors,” says Gorden, who formerly ran hyperbaric chambers at St. Luke’s Hospital. “I had to pick up more games for younger kids. A lot of families are coming through. I was surprised at the number of people in their 50s who come by.”

Gorden, 40, is a longtime gamer who was introduced to the hobby by his parents in the late-1980s. They’d play Life and the Titanic game. When he married his wife, Paola, the two started enjoying Dungeons & Dragons again, and it gradually led to board games.

“It brought my wife and I together. It completely elevated our relationship with the interaction. We were painting miniatures for Warhammer and it created a bond, and it just grew from there.”

A dialysis tech, Paola and her husband pondered how they could turn their love of gaming into a business.

“We were thinking what we could do to take this a step further,” he says. “There’s a Gaming Goat at Mesa Riverview that we went to because the prices were so good. We thought there was no way to compete with this. If you can’t beat them, join them.”

The Gaming Goat, The Shops at Norterra, 2470 W. Happy Valley Road, Unit 1182, Phoenix, 623.248.0075.