Let me begin by making one thing very clear: I am a nerd. I pretty much was raised a nerd, I have always been a nerd, and if/when I have children I will raise them to be nerds. I could argue the type of nerd I am, but that would take many articles of writing and much soul searching, so I prefer to leave it the all-inclusive term of “Nerd.”
Now with my qualifications out of the way we can get to the issue at hand.
This was a sad week for me on the nerd front, as the only nerd shop in Yellowknife NT (my hometown) has closed its doors until it can find a more affordable space. It was called Ogre’s Lair, and it was the largest in the Northwest Territories. It wasn’t my favorite nerd shop (or game shop if you wish), but it was my one of my first nerd shops, and that is something special. Maybe one day I will talk about my favorite shop, but not today. Today is for mourning and memories.
Yellowknife is rather cut-throat when it comes to business, with much of the downtown core left empty because of very high rental costs. It is already difficult enough running a nerd shop without very high fees and a small population, but it can be done. There had been one other called Tiger’s Card shop, run by an old bald man with a thick glasses and a thicker accent I can no longer place. He bought and sold cards, comics and other collectables but didn’t let you play in his shop. He and Ogre’s were right next door in the early days. He closed before I was in High School.
Ogre’s has moved three times in my life under similar circumstances. The location it was at the longest (to my recollection) was the one after Tiger’s left. It felt like a closet as it was packed to the walls with merchandise and had enough room for a till counter, a small table, a display rack and just enough walking room for two people. It was attached to a computer store and right next to Boston Pizza. I often made a habit of trying to assemble a complete set of matching dice from his jar of random dice by purchasing a single dye per visit.
Regardless of its size, it was the first place I dropped off a resume every summer since I was 13 until I was 17. He never hired me. Back then I was rather naïve’ and thought it was because he didn’t like me or because I was a gurl. Now I see he couldn’t afford to hire me. It was a one man operation that he made serious sacrifices to run. The fact that I kept leaving a resume every blasted summer may have caused him to dislike me though. I hope he knows I only did it because I loved his store.
The closing of Ogre’s Lair is tragic. It wasn’t the best-run shop – I’ve seen better to be sure – but it was a good shop. The prices were fair, the selection was great and there was a mini fridge. It was the best place to meet other nerds of other demographics in town.
I have a bit of an escape from this tragedy though, if only a temporary one, as my favorite nerd store is in St. Albert and I’ll be back in Edmonton for school soon enough.
I am a lucky one.
My fellow Yellowknife nerds are not so fortunate; they are left homeless by this. They have no place to get their fix, to see each other, to meet each other, to ask questions of one more experienced then them. Even if it was open for only 6 hours a day, even if it was crowded at some times, even if it was a bit intimidating, it was still our store. Now we Yellowknife nerds will have to take our nerding needs to the land of limited selection, overpriced cards and needless extra packaging (also known as Wal-Mart.) What we can’t get there we will need to order or download.
Rest in peace Ogre’s Lair. Rest until you are resurrected once again.