If your family is like mine you’ve been spending a lot of time in your house this year. We’ve done lots of school work, crafts, and other indoor activities. But one of my kid’s favorite has been the resurrection of game night at our house.
This is why I was so excited to learn about Jess Burns and her business, Game Night Charleston! She brings all the fun of group board games to nights out on the town. The pop-ups happen all over the Charleston area at local breweries, so you can enjoy your board games with your favorite snacks and drinks while supporting local businesses in an open environment!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jess about her business, and how you can find where Game Night Charleston is happening near you!
Please introduce yourself and let us know what brought you to the Charleston area?
I am Jess Burns. I’m a 33-year-old mother to the sassiest 3.5-year-old and I have been in Charleston for about seven years. Charleston itself brought me down to the area! I had visited family that had recently moved here and I was in love. Less than a year later, we packed up our life in Pennsylvania (where it was too cold and snowy!) and moved to Charleston. I’ve had zero regrets. I still adore this city.
You have a very unique business model, how did you come up with Game Night Charleston?
I have always loved playing board games! When I moved to Charleston, friends and I would play but it was always the same selection to play just in different locations (our homes most of the time). After visiting Nashville, Asheville, and other cities that had Board Game Lounges, I was intrigued.
I began researching and gauging the interest of the community around me. I wanted to allow groups of friends, families, out-of-town guests, etc to have a variety of games to play without having to pay the price of buying a new game, especially with the risk of not liking it! Board games can be fairly expensive, but this allows you to try out games of all types. We are hoping to open a brick and mortar in 2021 with all games available (currently we have over 350 and growing) and a private room available for those wanting to host games such as Dungeons and Dragons or Magic the Gathering, or for those who want to have a small private party to celebrate any occasion!
How can people find where you’re going to be if they want to go out for a game night?
The best way to find Game Night is to follow us on Instagram or Facebook. We post weekly schedules on where we will be. Currently, Game Night is on vacation until February. We also do private events including weddings, birthday parties, and with apartment complexes. We are working on a fundraiser with a non-profit and hope to see the community out to attend it. Stay tuned!
How do you pick what games to bring with you to each game night and which games are the most popular?
With the current inventory of games being so high, it is a tough decision on which games to bring! I try to read the environment. If I am hosting a pop-up at a local brewery, I will do some research to see if they are family-friendly and have a lot of kids. If so, I will make sure to bring more family-style or kid games. I always try to bring a variety of games; games for two players, card games, strategy games, games for groups, shorter games, longer games, and my favorite classic games including Battleship, Sorry, Guess Who, and Othello. I have expansion packs for most games, as well.
Do you have any tips to share with other moms that want to start businesses on how to manage work/family life?
Keep a pocket calendar. I know it sounds old school, but trust me, it helps! I write all meetings and calls in it, any events planned along with any family happenings such as dance class, doctor appointments, etc. I use different color pens so that I am able to know right away which group (work or family) the event is for. I always make sure my family comes first, so I plan around that and not around Game Night. It is hard to balance but once you find a good routine everything flows smoothly.
Many other small businesses have been straining to stay relevant during 2020. How has Covid-19 and quarantine changed your business? Have you changed the way you do things since March?
Right before Covid hit (and I mean, literally a week before) I was ready to sign a lease on a brick and mortar. The news of Covid and the uncertainty of shutdown and the future had me back out of the lease. My gut feeling was right. I’m glad I did, as I wouldn’t have been able to keep the space if I wasn’t able to open it! In March, I took a break for a few months to restrategize how to stay relevant during this time. I stayed very active on social media, did giveaways to send games to those in lockdown, etc. In late October, I began doing pop-ups after obtaining the proper cleaning and sanitizing equipment I needed for the board games. With delicate material on some and the cost of some games, I wanted to make sure I was able to properly sanitize without ruining them.
What are your plans for the future of Game Night Charleston?
The number one plan is to open a brick and mortar! Until then, I will continue with pop-up events at local breweries and eateries, hosting game nights at apartment complexes for residents, and being asked to be the entertainment for birthday parties, weddings, and other fun events.
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