Talking With Kerry Winger of The Boardroom

I was lucky enough to interview Kerry Winger, owner of The Boardroom Board Game Cafe which is located on Mill St on the Burlington side of the Winooski bridge.
The cafe has over 500 games to choose from and you can spend hours playing games and eating PB&Js and milkshakes.
Find out more about Kerry, the cafe, how the idea came to be and more in the episode.
Here are the show notes for the episode!
Get in touch with Kerry by going to https://theboardroomvt.com/ or check out the Boardroom’s Facebook page here.

Links

The Boardroom
All The Boardroom Games
The Boardroom Facebook Page
The Boardroom Kickstarter Page
Seven Days Boardroom Article

Brisson Properties
Church Street Marketplace
Winooski
Burlington
Chase Mill
Pingala
Fortune Teller Tattoo Shop
Concept Medley
Community Capital

A History of Boardgames
Snakes and Lattes

Cards Against Humanity
Dungeons and Dragons (D&D)
Pictionary
Capital Vices
Pigs VS Monsters
DinoGenics
Wingspan
Scythe
Secret Hitler
Tails of Equestria
Mousetrap
Trouble
Monopoly
Life
Settlers of Catan
Ticket to Ride
Key Forge
Pandemic
Forbidden Island
Snakes and Ladders / Chutes and Ladders
Telestrations After Dark
Red Flags
Terra Mystica
Uno
Hailstorm

Transcript

Becca Hammond                 

What’s new? 802 I’m Becca Hammond and you are listening to Burlington Talks. Burlington Talks may include graphic or explicit content. Listener discretion is advised. For those of you who don’t know, there is a new board game cafe in Burlington.  I’ve hung out a couple times and played a few games on a few different nights, and it was a lot of fun. There’s so many different games there. You really ought to go check it out. And for this episode, I was lucky enough to interview Kerry Winger, who is the owner of The Boardroom. Kerry, thank you so much for being on the show today. Can you tell me your name and then whatever you want to share about yourself.

Kerry Winger                 

My name is Kerry Winger. I am the owner of Vermont’s first board game Cafe, The Boardroom.  I live in Colchester. I spent the majority of my life as an adult in Vermont and other areas, and I wanted to bring something to the community that was different and entertaining and fun that gave people like me who don’t go outside a lot, something to do.  

Becca Hammond                 

Most of us don’t get outside enough in the winter anyway. We all have cabin fever. So can you tell me a little bit about how the cafe works? I got to go in and it is so cool. But since no one could see it, since it’s a podcast, could you kind of describe it for everyone?  

Kerry Winger                 

Yeah, so when you come in, there is a $6 table fee, and what the table feed does is that helps us cover our library of 540 games, military and first responders with ID free. They don’t have to pay a table. And Sundays is Sunday Fun Day and kids under 12 are free. Come in, you take a seat. We are full service. We have a full menu. We have our game’s arranged in alphabetical order card in dice. Games were pulled out and have their own shelving section, and all the games are rated on difficulty as in difficulty to understand the instructions and be able to play, we have two floors. We have an upstairs that’s all tables, and downstairs we have a couch like living room seating area. Then we have some tables, and then we have another small like living room seating area. And then we have the actual board room, which is a giant boardroom table The people can sit at in groups and hang out and play games.  

Becca Hammond                 

Where was the giant table?  Was it downstairs?

Kerry Winger                 

If you went down the stairs, it was all the way to the left. There’s a picture of Pokemon playing poker above it.  

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, I think I definitely missed that.  

Kerry Winger                 

There’s a big white board on wheels, which is perfect for playing Pictionary or D and D and things like that, cause you can track stuff on the whiteboard.

Becca Hammond                 

So how many people can fit at the big table? That sounds cool.  

Kerry Winger                 

The, uh, the big table you can fit six comfortably. You can have 8 to 10 around it, um, the seating area with the couch. This weekend we had Oh, I think 11 10 or 11. It’s a little cramped, but everybody naturally gravitates towards the couch If they’re big group and they’re gonna play group games as opposed to tabletop board games.

Becca Hammond                 

Those couches looked so comfortable and amazing, and it just has such a chill vibe. As soon as you walked in, I just wanted to just hang out and play in games, that’s exactly what it evokes.  

Kerry Winger                 

That is truly what I was shooting for. Purple tufted couches just make people wanna hang out, and that is the most coveted spot in the whole cafe are the couches and people that come in, that’s the – If they’ve been in before, it’s the first place they go and check.  

Becca Hammond                 

That’s what I was thinking is it’s kind of almost a little exclusive cause you don’t see them when you first walk in and then you realize they’re there and you just …want to sit in them immediately.  

Kerry Winger                 

The one underneath the stairs, which is the love seat and two chairs and a big coffee table. People tend to camp out there and by camp out. I mean, spend eight hours. We have people that come in and spend an hour, and we have people that come in and spend eight hours or more playing games.

Becca Hammond                 

Is it the same table fee if you stay all day?

Kerry Winger                 

$6 all day, you just can’t leave.

Becca Hammond                 

Right. You can’t walk away.  

Kerry Winger                 

You can’t leave for a couple hours and come back, and, um,

Becca Hammond                 

Well, that’s a wicked good deal. If you wanna hang out and play games all day.

Kerry Winger                 

It is, and you don’t have to have reservations. We don’t really do reservations unless you want the – We rent out the whole downstairs so you could have a birthday party in the whole downstairs, all to yourself,

Becca Hammond                 

Which would be really cool, because that’s – that’s like the coolest area.

Kerry Winger                 

That is. And, you know, on Sundays when kids are there, we try to keep all the kids upstairs and the adults downstairs so they can play a little bit more of the Children Free games, the ones that are not safe for work.

Becca Hammond                 

Right.  

Kerry Winger                 

We have a special shelf for those.

Becca Hammond                 

Is that down in the basement?  

Kerry Winger                 

That’s downstairs. It’s on top of a [shelf]. The kids can’t reach them.

Becca Hammond                 

Yep, makes sense. Good spot for them.  

Kerry Winger                 

Yeah, cards against humanity. Things like that.  

Becca Hammond                 

Which is an amazing game. Love cards against humanity. I think that is. I own cards against humanity and trivial pursuit  

Kerry Winger                 

You could not get any further apart if you tried.  

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, pretty much completely different. And to be honest, I don’t play the trivial pursuit very much.  

Becca Hammond                 

So the space, the actual building that you’re in. Did you completely renovate that for the restaurant?  

Kerry Winger                 

That was not me. Um, we originally were looking at spaces closer to Church Street, and we just couldn’t find a space. And I saw this space online and the ceilings looked really low, and the realtor said, ‘Just come look at it’.  And we went and we looked at it. Well, we being me and decided I think this is gonna work. Um, Brisson Properties owns the building. And if you go onto, like, our Kickstarter page or she Google it seven days did a story on that building because it used to be a white janky brick building that…

Becca Hammond                 

I think I remember that.

Kerry Winger                 

That right, as soon as you cross the bridge, it was there and then all of a sudden it got jacked up, and it was that way for quite a while. And then the next thing you know, it was a building. The building is one of the oldest industrial buildings in Burlington, and I think it was 1927 when the bridge flooded out in Winooski, it took out the floor, the main floor of where the cafe is. It just wiped it all out. It was a little store and it also had a blacksmith shop in at one point. It was just like the corner store it actually had Coca Cola painted on the side of the building and the flood came through and took the building out and they never repaired it. Yeah, that’s why when you drive by, now you look up and there’s a door really high up in the air in you’re like. ‘That makes no sense’.

Becca Hammond                 

Okay, that’s interesting. I feel like I have noticed that and thought that exact thing.

Kerry Winger                 

So Brisson Properties, they like to restore older buildings. So they came in and put in all the beams. There’s no screws. They plaster and lapped all the walls, and they tried to get it as original as they could. And, yeah, it’s – It’s a great space. It has that. ‘I wanna hang out here for a long period of time’ vibe. It’s cozy, it’s comfortable and it’s different.

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, it is. I don’t keep on trying to think of a place to kind of compare it to, but I can’t think of one.  

Kerry Winger                 

Yes, just so Woody. There’s just so much wood.  

Becca Hammond                 

But there’s also the brick.  

Kerry Winger                 

Yeah, if you go downstairs into where the seating areas are. You’ll see where windows once were. And when you’re on the main floor and you look out our windows, they are pretty much level with the road. You’re looking at parked cars, and if you go down the stairs, you see where the windows once were. And it just shows you how high the road has risen.

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, that’s interesting. I had no idea the area changed that much. I guess it does make sense. If the flood came through and wiped it all out.  

Kerry Winger                 

I was supposed to get the be getting pictures from my landlord’s so we can hang him up so people can look if they’re interested. Um, but yeah, it’s it’s pretty cool.  

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, that sounds like it’s cool that you’re part of history. Even if you aren’t as close to Church Street of you liked.

Kerry Winger                 

I like this a little bit better. This – this fits me more than Church Street would have fit me, this is – my cafe is for everybody whether you live here or not. But being where I am gives locals more of an opportunity to come here than tourists.

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking is I feel like if it had been closer to Church Street it probably would’ve been crazy, which obviously is a good thing for a business. But it probably would have been people that aren’t they might not have as many repeat customers. People, either. College students.  

Kerry Winger                 

Yeah, this is where we are makes it feel like it’s more for the community. Yeah, as opposed to more for tourists. I worked at the Health Department downtown and just trying to park and get in and out of downtown when I’m not – when I wasn’t working, the last place I’d want to go was downtown, and it’s just difficult. But, you know, Winooski, we’re currently – we are in Burlington, but we’re on the other side of the bridge. But Winooski has really, you know, changed the downtown area. They have great restaurants, things like that. And it’s just it’s good to be so close to where so many things are happening in, like the Chase Mill and Pingala and the tattoo shop that’s in there.

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, there’s a lot going on right around that circle, right around the bridge, up and down along the river.  

Kerry Winger                 

Oh yeah, there’s a lot going on, so it’s a really cool place to be. 

Becca Hammond                 

Awesome. So let’s talk about the food a little bit because you come in, you’re chilling out. You’ve got all these games, you have literally – I can’t imagine a game that you wouldn’t have. I’m sure they exist, but I don’t know them. What are you gonna eat while you’re chilling out?

Kerry Winger                 

So years ago, I said, ‘I want to open up a restaurant that just sells peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milkshakes’, and this kind of – my menu is a gamer’s menu. Um, you can get, ah, big bowl popcorn, a bucket of bugles that legitimately come in a pail. Um, you get a plate of pickles, you can get a gas station grinder, which, if you’re from Vermont, you know I’m not talking about Cumberland Farms or any of the big corporate stores. I’m talking about the mom and pop stores where you stop at the gas station and go in. It’s like Old Country store, and they make you a grinder, and it’s the best one you’ve ever eaten. Um, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, all different kinds. Grilled cheese, fried baloney sandwiches, cookie dough, gluten free cookie dough. Yeah, we just got milkshakes that are just over the top. Floats, doughnuts, doughnuts. Doughnuts are amazing.

Becca Hammond                 

They really are. I do. Do you make them fresh?

Kerry Winger                 

So we get the doughnuts there already. They’re just plain. There’s nothing on them, and we heat them up in the oven and grill them. And then so that the donuts that Becca’s talking about are – you can get a plate of three. Or you can get them individual. Ones glazed. And if you just get the glazed, it tastes like a crispy cream cause we heat him up. We take them out of the oven. We put the glaze on, but the other two are. One is bacon and peanut butter on the inside. Glaze on top, and my favorite is the raspberry jam and fluff. It’s enough sugar to stop your heart, but it is so good, and one of our most popular things is our hot chocolate. We have the absolute best hot chocolate around, and everybody who drinks it agrees. Reviews say it. It’s just a really good hot chocolate.  

Becca Hammond                 

So the peanut butter donut peanut butter and bacon donut was amazing.  

Kerry Winger                 

It’s just – I just want people to eat fun food and grilled cheese sandwiches and chips. And because you don’t want to eat a plate of spaghetti and then play $150 board game or I don’t want you to, um, we just I just wanted to have fun food that makes you think of hanging out when you were younger or as a teenager or whatever eating junk food, playing games. I mean, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about you coming in and making memories, seeing a game that you haven’t seen since you were a child, mousetrap and sharing your memories with it with whether it be your kids, your grandkids, friends or whatever. That’s what it’s about. We have Shirley temples and we put the paper umbrellas in them and we do Roy Rogers and we put the swords in them. It’s all about the little things. When you get your check, you get a plate of cotton candy. Why? Why not? You know.

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. I was really impressed with it. I was impressed how late you guys were open. You had quite the swing on your hours.  

Kerry Winger                 

Yeah, we – we’re not open during the day. That was an executive decision made by me. Um, I don’t wanna have to pay my staff to sit around and stare at each other. Actually, they don’t stare at each other when they’re not. When we’re not busy, we’re playing games because there’s so many new games to learn. But we open during the week at five and we close Tuesday through Thursday at 11, Friday night, midnight and Saturday is noon to midnight and Sunday’s 11 until eight. If it ends up that we start, um, continue to stay super busy and we need to extend hours on Sundays or open early on Saturdays, then that’s what we’ll do. But so far we have people coming in at nine o’clock at night and sit down to play games.

Becca Hammond                 

That’s just when a lot of people want to play games. That’s because that’s when you’re relaxing and you wanna hang out with your friends and just chill out. And it’s so much better to do something like this and go play some games and actually talk to your friends than to put on Netflix and not talk to your friends and stare your phone all night, which I am 100% guilty of.  

Kerry Winger                 

If you did, I don’t know if you noticed we had signs hanging up that say ‘No wife, play board games, talk to each other’.

Becca Hammond                 

Yes, I did see that. It’s a perfect sentiment. It’s a perfect place to do that.  

Kerry Winger                 

And we don’t get a lot of people sitting in there, believe it or not staring at their phones. Most people are really enjoying the moment, enjoying the thrill of it all.

Becca Hammond                 

I think it would be really hard to walk in there and ignore all of the things you guys have going on because there’s so many colors. There’s so many games to look at immediately – you just want to look at all the games because I had never seen most of them. If you’re someone who likes games, you’re gonna be wanting to dig through all of them, just to see if they have something you haven’t seen before.  

Becca Hammond                 

Oh, most definitely We actually put a list online because people were asking, We get phone calls. People called. Somebody called me yesterday, asking if we had a specific game because they wanted to come and play it. And, you know, we also do take suggestions if there’s certain games and some games are so popular, Um were with our distributor were on a waiting list to get them, and I try other means to get them, But, you know, there’s some games that are just really became way more popular than the distributor and the developers plant.  

Becca Hammond                 

I can’t believe you have that many games.

Kerry Winger                 

There’s a lot of local game developers, and there’s two or three that come in and we carry their games and we showcase their games and we sell games and display their games. And in January, when we start doing more activities, developers are gonna come in on developer nights and showcase their games and teach people to play them. An answer questions because everybody’s like, ‘Oh, you know what? I bet you I could  – I have this great idea for a game, but I don’t know where to start’. Well, these are people who have started and made games and sold them, so it’s a huge industry. Huge.  

Becca Hammond                 

I had zero idea there was anyone making games in the area. What, what kind of games came from Vermont?  

Kerry Winger                 

From Vermont. There’s one called Capital Vices. It’s a card game. Um, the guys that developed it actually work at why can’t I think? That dealer dot com and they come in quite a bit. And their company is Sorry, I Sorry, guys. I have to look it up because I can’t. It’s concept something, Concept Medley! And they make Capital Vices. There is a group of guys that made a game called Pigs versus Monsters. And they’ve been in, um, there are a group of guys that made Dino Jen IX, and they just did. Their second Kickstarter campaign just ended. So it was in addition to it. This summer at the fairgrounds the Champlain Games festival had event there, that was board games, and there was a lot of local people there.

Becca Hammond                 

Is there any one game that really sticks out to you that the whole community is just really into?

Kerry Winger                 

Wingspan and Scythe.  

Becca Hammond                 

Never even heard of either of those.  Wingspan and Scythe?

Kerry Winger                 

Scythe, yup.  Wingspan right now is – Oh, there’s one more Secret Hitler.

Kerry Winger                 

Uh, Wingspan is very, very popular. It’s hard to get right now. It was one of the games that came out, and they didn’t realize how big it was gonna be. It has all the birds of North America. And you are….It’s an engine developed game. You and I didn’t say it right… And my guys, they’re gonna kill me. Um, what you’re doing is you are doing actions that reap benefits after the fact that it’s a really fun, relaxing game. The birds are beautiful. The eggs look like the little Cadbury eggs at Easter. They’re all pastel. It’s a great game, it changes.

Becca Hammond                 

This sounds really cute!

Kerry Winger                 

It’s super cute. It’s beautiful, and it changes every time you play because the outcomes change. Unlike games that most of us grew up with, where you roll the dice, move the mice. A lot of the newer modern games don’t really even have boards or you have an individual board in front of you. And when you play games like Monopoly and Life, you know what’s gonna happen every single time. You know what’s gonna happen. You know, that someone is any Boardwalk and Park Place and then they’re just gonna tear everybody down cause they’re gonna put hotels on is just gonna end the game, you know, that’s what’s gonna happen.  In Life, you know, somebody’s gonna have a literal kids have the most money. You know what’s gonna happen – in these newer games. You don’t know what’s gonna happen, because every time it’s a completely different game, your objectives change every time you play, you reach in the bag, you pull out four different objectives and lay them down every time. So it’s always gonna be different. Um, Secret Hitler is another game that’s really popular. Um, it’s a game where there’s a group of fascists and a group of liberals and the liberals are trying to get rid of the fascists and the fascists are trying to elect Hitler. And it’s – it’s a conspiracy game where you’re trying to determine who is Hitler.

Becca Hammond                 

It sounds really funny.  

Kerry Winger                 

It is really funny. And the liberals on all the cards are portrayed as people, and the fascists are all displayed as like reptile.  And like Hitler, I think if I’m correct is a lizard. Scythe is a huge game that takes probably about four hours to play two to four hours to play, and you’re building and creating and growing and defending and comes in a big, huge box. But you know, those are really popular, we have people that come in that there are specific games, and then you have people that come in and grab Mousetrap and grab Trouble and Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride and other people have no idea what they want to play. And that’s what we’re there for. Myself and my staff can help you pick a game and I don’t like, Can we help you pick it? Sometimes we can teach it to. There’s a lot of games that we know that we can teach to you. And it’s great because it gets people introduced to new styles of game, as opposed to the Milton Bradley and the Parker Brothers.

Becca Hammond                 

Your employee, I’m not sure what his name was, but he was fantastic. Who showed us the the domino game.  

Kerry Winger                 

King Domino, which is either Matt or Justin. It was one of the two, and I’m probably gonna probably going to say it was Matt because that’s one of his favorite games. Is King Domino.

Becca Hammond                 

He broke that down for us and two minutes, three minutes, and we successfully played that game after listening to him tell us how to play it in two or three minutes and it was fun. It was cool. Like I was telling you earlier. I think that might be a game I would actually enjoy owning, which I don’t own a lot of games. So that’s kind of fun for me.  

Kerry Winger                 

It is. And you know, when I interviewed to hire for my wait staff, I didn’t care whether they could wait tables. You know, I could teach that I can’t teach somebody to love games with a passion and be able to explain it to people. That’s the key. I love a lot of games, but most of them a lot of them. I can’t explain to you how to play, and that is just a sheer talent. And we do Dungeons and Dragons 3, 4 of my staff members are dungeon masters. One truly loves children, is very animated, she’s really active in the theater. She’s going to do a class for kids. Um, I have another guy, Justin, who does it every Saturday, Sunday. He doesn’t one offs. You come, he gives you a character, you play for three hours and you go home. You’re not doing a one year campaign. So starting in January, when we’re really gonna start to branch out, and we’ve seen what people want and heard about what people want to do and we’re gonna start having different activities all the time that people can sign up for.

Becca Hammond                 

Dungeons and Dragons is one that I’ve always thought sounds really interesting. But it has this huge learning curve that for me, I – I’m terrified of. I just don’t have the willpower.

Kerry Winger                 

That ‘s what you need a one off for, and that’s the perfect thing. You come in, you play once. Somebody has already built your character, you come in, you play ones and a lot of this stuff, especially if you have kids. Kids want to play Magic and kids want to play Key Forge, kids want to play D and D, and as a parent, you have no idea where to start. And that’s where my staff can help before you go out and buy everything under the sun to tell you ‘Hey, you know what? Why don’t you try this first and see how you do?’

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, that’s awesome. You should almost have like beginner’s dnd because for me I would be like Oh My gosh that’s what I need because I can’t play that game.

Kerry Winger                 

Exactly, that’s what it is I am going to do one for adults, which is Tails from Equestria, which is My Little Pony.

Becca Hammond                 

Is it legitimately My Little Pony?  

Kerry Winger                 

It is legitimately My Little Pony.  

Becca Hammond                 

Is it a hard game? Or is it?  

Kerry Winger                 

It’s like D and D tomorrow playing games.  

Becca Hammond                 

Wow,  

Kerry Winger                 

So you’re a pony and you have to make decisions and the decisions have outcomes and you have to roll the dice, and that helps you determine. It’s kind of like the books from the eighties. Choose your own adventure. You get read a story, you have two options. Do you go through the door? Do you run the other way? And whatever you do changes the outcome of the story.

Becca Hammond                 

I bet these games are way cooler than those books were, though.  

Kerry Winger                 

I don’t know, they have actually turned those books into games now.  

Becca Hammond                 

How did that –  because every time I ever tried to do one of those books, it would end after two or three pages.  

Kerry Winger                 

That was me. I never made good. Too bad choice. I always made the bad choices and always died. And even if I kept making other choices,it would just never turn out well either.

Becca Hammond                 

One time I literally took the book and I went backwards. I went in on page 70, went backwards to try and figure out how to get there, and I could not figure out how you  supposed to get there.  

Kerry Winger                 

I actually still have some of those books and still can’t get that far now. So I’m hoping with Tales From Equestria that they don’t kill any of the ponies. So we should be pretty good.

Becca Hammond                 

I would hope they wouldn’t. I don’t know, though, because My Little Ponies become this whole – I don’t It started as a little girl show.

Kerry Winger                 

It’s the bronies.

Becca Hammond                 

And now it’s become adult men really like it, but then everyone in between too. It’s not just the adult man and the kids. It’s random people.

Kerry Winger                 

Jill deals with with the children and I deal with the adults. I do do stuff on Sundays with kids and help them out and pick games. But sometimes for me, I don’t have as much time as my staff does to play games, cause even though it is all fun, it’s still a business,

Becca Hammond                 

Right? Still gotta do some work every now and then.  

Kerry Winger                 

Yes, my favorite game is QuickBooks.  

Becca Hammond                 

Uh, what a downer.

Kerry Winger                 

Right?  

Becca Hammond                 

The numbers versus the games.

Kerry Winger                 

No one ever wants to play that with me. I ask people all the time. I used to be a state employee, and it was very, very hard to find meeting space in Burlington. And your choices are usually hotels and banquet halls and things like that. So one of the cool things that I wanted to do is after going to all these meetings and doing all these activities, is I wanted to use my space to have people use it as a meeting space. It can be rented during the day. Since we have a full kitchen, we serve food. A really cool aspect of that is games teach so much, games can teach communication they can teach teamwork. They can show you how whatever you say think you’re doing is right, could potentially be wrong because you’re not thinking of the rest of the group. There’s just so much out there. So one thing that we do is we run out the space for meetings, and my staff helps teach the people that come in games, which is one way to take your strategic planning meeting from extremely boring and slow to fund an interesting and get everybody involved, but at the same time, they’re having fun, but they’re learning at the same time. I mean, it’s the same thing you do with kids. I’m gonna teach you this game, and you’re gonna love it. But at the same time, you just learned math.

Kerry Winger                 

So that was important to me in when I was writing my business plan that I wanted to also have space available just cause it’s so difficult to find.

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, sure. Companies do. Yeah. Those sort of team building things.

Kerry Winger                 

Retreats all kinds of stuff.  

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, they do it right. I know a company literally a mile up the road from your location that does that with huge amounts of people.  

Kerry Winger                 

Yeah, and this place, you know, it’s perfect for meetings. We have had people come in and two meetings and use the white board and ask for specific menus and certain types of games. And, you know, it was just really fun for them because one, it got them out of the office, you know, two, we had everything they needed, we had tables, we had space, we had the white board whatever they need, we could accommodate to and they got to interact with each other in a different way. They got to play a game and laugh and have fun and just build a stronger group dynamic.

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, playing. Gosh, I can’t even think of a game that wouldn’t really help build teamwork and better than the nonsense that I’ve had to do before that they all team building exercises. That is just awkward and and they take 10 seconds, so you don’t build any teamwork. It’s just kind of like throw a cotton ball at each other and then you’re done and then you kind of awkwardly walk away from these people that you were supposed to be building a team with, and you never even talk to them. Yeah,

Kerry Winger                 

There’s so many games out there now that are cooperative that instead of it being me against you, it’s you and I against the game and different things happen at different times. The game is throwing different things at you. Pandemic right now is one of the most popular cooperative board games, but there’s other ones. Forbidden Island is a lot of fun. It doesn’t take a lot of time and you can play with kids. You know you can bring small children in there and we have games for kids, and some kids are far more advanced than other kids. So it’s great that we have a huge wide range of game options for everybody.

Becca Hammond                 

What inspired you to open the boardroom?  

Kerry Winger                 

I read a book.  

Becca Hammond                 

Really?  

Kerry Winger                 

Um,so to make a long story short, um, my family was an only child, so we never played games ever. Very little. Um, and I have, um, grandchildren from my stepdaughter, and we have a camp, and we would go up to camp every weekend and there’s no electricity and no running water. Um, there’s a lake and we started playing games and my mom got really into it, and the girls got really into it. My husband did, and it just brought our family is so much closer together, and we would play games for hours, and I don’t we still do, I don’t mean would in past tense, and I was at the library and I checked out the book history of board games. And in the intro they were talking about right outside of Central Park, there used to be a shop that only sold chess boards and chess pieces. They had chess tables and people will go there and play chess and hang out. And it was super cool. Um, but as time moved on, that really wasn’t profitable and really didn’t work out well, so, um, the the space closed down and it opened up a board game cafe. And so I’m reading about this in this book. I’m reading about this huge one in Toronto called Snakes and Ladders which is our version of, you know, chutes and ladders. It’s originally was snakes and ladders and the concept of it. And then my husband and I traveled a lot and we started going into him, and I’m like, You know what? This would be so much fun. I could serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and make milkshakes, and people can come in and make memories and start new traditions. And it would just be fun because as an adult living in this area, we would have game nights at my house, and it would just get expensive for everybody because everybody bring it just to share and you feel like your house is not clean enough and people want to stay really late and you want to go to bed So I just started thinking about it. And one of my close friends, Max, we were at an exercise together for the state.  

Kerry Winger                 

Hey, what do you think if I started a board game cafe, he was like, Yeah, you should do that.

Kerry Winger                 

And that was it. I started writing my business plan and doing the financials and going out and asking for money and nobody nobody would give us a loan. Nobody, Um, my husband’s active duty military. So we’ve moved a lot. We hadn’t lived in our house very long, so nobody would give us money and we weren’t asking for an obscene amount of money. I just when I tell you the amount of money we were asking for and you put it in when I put it into context, you’re gonna say that makes no sense. We were looking for a loan of $55,000. People buy cars that costs more than that.  

Becca Hammond                 

Easily.  

Kerry Winger                 

Yes, you have spectacular credit. Nobody would. And, um, as a last ditch resort, there is a nonprofit in Barre called Community Capital, and businesses go there to get loans from They get the money from the Small Business Association. Right and their biggest loan, I think that they’d ever done was $10,000. So I sent in my business plan and they came up and they checked out the space. And I explained to him everything that was gonna happen. And they said, If you can show that people have interest in this and do a Kickstarter campaign and have it succeed, that will show us.  

Kerry Winger                 

So we did a Kickstarter and it succeeded, and it wasn’t all my friends. And it wasn’t all my relatives it was people we didn’t know and ever we didn’t know giving us $500 or $100 and all kinds of stuff, and they ended up giving us the money. It’s the largest loan that they have ever given to a company, and we were so thankful for it.  

Kerry Winger                 

So I quit my job at the state and I cashed in my retirement and put it all in the business, which, you know what have I got to lose right? That’s how we look at it.  

Kerry Winger                 

What have we had to lose its money as long as I can, granted, I’m not getting paid yet, but as long as I can pay my employees for right now – we’ve been open a month and a half, I think today starts week eight.  

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, that sounds about right. I was thinking about right.  

Kerry Winger                 

We’ve been open eight weeks, which is bananas, considering the fact that we have not advertised anywhere yet. We haven’t done a lot of things yet that need to be done. And we’ve had to turn people away at the door and take down their phone numbers. And tell them we’ll  call them when a table opens up.

Becca Hammond                 

Oh really?  

Kerry Winger                 

Yeah.  

Becca Hammond                 

Well that’s great. That’s great to hear.

Kerry Winger                 

The night you were in was not that situation.  

Becca Hammond                 

That’s a fun night, though. Anyway. It was nice and chill. I’d like to see it when it’s bumping.  

Kerry Winger                 

I would just – Yeah, it’s just it’s so much fun to be in there and to hear people laugh and to hear people say things that you never, ever thought would come out of somebody’s mouth. Um, yeah, especially downstairs. People start playing liked Telestrations After Dark or Red Flags and then upstairs or even downstairs. You have people involved in playing Scythe and Terra Mystica, uh, and Terraforming Mars and all these games and just thoroughly enjoying themselves. And that’s the fun part. I’ve created somewhere fun for adults to go. That’s not a bar, even though we serve beer, but is not a bar, it’s not really a restaurant. It’s not the movies. It’s a place that you go to intentionally hang out. Yeah, and there’s not a lot of there’s not a lot of places like that for adults. We can drop the kids off at the trampoline place. There’s an indoor playground. There’s all kinds of stuff. There isn’t anything for us as adults to be dropped off at to find something to do. And that’s what I wanted. I wanted something to do, whether you’re a hard core gamer and want to play all the newest games as soon as they come out or if you’re somebody, there’s just happy to play Monopoly or, UNO, and just wanna have a fun night out. I mean, that’s the cool part of it that we have regulars now, and we know their names and they know our names and we know what they’re gonna eat. And it’s just a lot of fun to just talk about games with them and see people and have people say you know what this is the most fun I’ve had in a really long time. Or have somebody eat something that’s off of our menu like Hail Storm and have people say people in their fifties and older say, I haven’t had this since I was a child in Europe. So things like that make me happy.

Becca Hammond                 

It’s a great space. I’m really excited for you. I’m excited that you jumped into this just because it seems like Burlington has the perfect area that has this great community vibe. I know personally, probably three dozen people who are obsessed with games of all varieties. They’re everywhere. People love games.

Kerry Winger                 

It’s huge. It’s made this huge resurgence just because there’s only so much technology we can stand. I mean, everybody is involved in technology all day, at work and at home, and kids have it at school and all these different things. It’s nice to just get back to basics and do something that involves communicating with somebody else and thinking in different abstract ways than you normally would think.

Becca Hammond                 

Last question. We are already at 45 minutes.  

Kerry Winger                 

That’s totally fine.

Becca Hammond                 

It’s amazing how quickly these things go. I always like to ask people because it’s the Burlington Talks podcast. So I like to ask people what your favorite part of living in Burlington is just the area. Even if it’s not specifically Burlington, I kind of call this whole area the same area. It’s all Burlington.  

Kerry Winger                 

Um, my favorite part. And I always realize it when we fly back from somewhere. It’s the fact that everything is green and there’s no billboards. And no matter how big our cities are, which aren’t very big or huge, everything’s still has that small town community feel. People in Vermont are way more interested in helping the community in helping each other and giving back. And it’s just a really safe, nice place to live and raise your kids And yeah, everybody leaves after they get out of high school. They can’t wait to get out of here. But everybody always comes back.  It’s hard to believe Everybody always comes back.  

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, that’s very true. And I love the greenery in this state. I really miss it this time of year. It kind of hurts a little bit, waiting for the green to come back.

Kerry Winger                 

Waiting for the green to come back. But the fact that you can see trees and you can see mountains and the air is fresh. The air is yes, it seems you step off the plane and step outside of our big airport and you breathe. Then you’re like, Yeah, other places don’t have that. We’re just very fortunate and very lucky to live where we live and have what we have around here. It’s special.

Becca Hammond                 

It really is. It’s a special place. All right. Kerry, thank you so much for being on the podcast.  

Kerry Winger                 

Thank you so much for inviting me and having me here. It’s been great.

Becca Hammond                 

Yeah, This was really fun. I’m even more excited about the board room cafe. I said that, right? Right.  

Kerry Winger                 

Yeah. Yeah. The Boardroom.  

Becca Hammond                 

The boardroom. I was so excited about it. After talking here, it seems even cooler now that I know a little bit more about it. Thank you so much.  

Kerry Winger                 

Thank you.  

Becca Hammond                 

Thank you so much to Kerry for being on the show. I had a great time talking with her it was a lot of fun. Head over the show Notes Page by going to Burlington talks dot com forward slash 07 or just Burlington talks dot com and you’ll see the post in the carousel at the bottom of the home page. There will be links to everything we talked about links to the Boardroom’s Facebook page, their Web say whatever we discussed, there should be links to it. They’ll also be a transcript of the show. If you want to search through and find a specific section, please subscribe to the show on your chosen podcasting platform and tell your friends family in the area about it. If you’d like to be interviewed or know someone who should be, please reach out to me by email. Becca@burlingtontalks.com. And that’s Becca. B E C C A. You can also find me on Facebook @BurlingtonTalks. Just get in touch with me in general, I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can now support the show by going to Burlington talks dot com forward slash support. This show is currently funded by me, but I am going to be starting a subscription type service where you will gain access to goodies and events and just different little bonuses for helping support the show. Stay tuned for more details on that. Thanks, so much for listening. Drive safe on the cruddy roads out there. That’s what’s new in the 802!

Becca Hammond                 

Copyright January 7th 2020 by Rebecca Hammond and Burlington Talks Podcast.

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