As Norman businesses reopen amid COVID-19, Commonspace Game Cafe is one local entertainment venue ready to play its trump card on the coronavirus.
Owner DC Bueller said he had hoped to open his new gaming hall in March before the virus slowed his progress. Bueller, formerly the owner of the local board and card game shop Loot & XP, was aiming to revamp his empire with the launch of Commonspace after his lease on his old store ended in December.
While the pandemic halted contracting and licensing for Bueller’s store, he said he struggled to continue to pay rent and utilities on his new space while waiting to open his doors.
“Fortunately, we were able to do a Twitch stream to kind of garner community support and get a couple (of) people who chipped in and help support us while we're kind of under lockdown and stuff like that,” Bueller said. “So some people were still able to support us from a distance from their own homes and stuff.”
Thanks to community aid, Bueller was able to open Commonspace to the public Monday, June 29, and said he hopes to use his new business to rebuild the gaming community he fostered at Loot & XP.
With Commonspace’s grand opening comes a variety of new features, such as a small kitchen offering coffee, tea, milkshakes, pizza and sandwiches, along with a private party room. Bueller also said he’s working to obtain a liquor license and plans to host several different tea- and leather-making workshops for those interested as they come out of isolation.
Bueller, an OU alumnus, also created a new study space with a whiteboard and charging station in hopes of drawing in more students as they return to campus in the fall. Bueller said several members of OU’s Board and Card Game Club have worked at or frequented his shop, and he said he hopes to make even more friendships with fellow Sooners.
Commonspace will offer access to several role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, along with other classic board and card games, a Nintendo Switch and a new pool table.
Bueller also said he will continue to prioritize safety as patrons return to his store by socially distancing seats at tables, requiring masks, sanitizing tables and games after use and providing gloves and hand sanitizer for visiting gamers.
As Bueller looks to emphasize community and encourage regular customers, he said he’ll focus on membership more than he did at Loot and XP. For $20 per month, gamers can purchase access to all of Commonspace’s features, and other pricing and membership options are available on the store’s website.
Asked what he hopes to accomplish as he embarks on a new journey, Bueller continued to emphasize the importance of building relationships with local gamers.
“I'm definitely wanting to kind of rebuild the community that we had for Loot & XP and also make sure ... when everything calms down and everyone is safe to kind of gather in bigger numbers that we can have a big party to kind of celebrate making it through this struggle,” Bueller said. “Because it's definitely not just us (that have struggled). It’s everyone, and we all have to participate and work together to make it through this time to celebrate on the other side.”