Kingdom Geekdom combines two local businesses, Battle Ground, owned by Ty Stiger, and Hero’s Best, by Allison McDowell.

Allison McDowell (left) poses with comic from her side of the store with Ty Stiger (right) and his favorite board game, Magic the Gathering. Emma Cummins

After throwing around the idea for months, Stiger and McDowell decided to move forward with it, believing it would be mutually beneficial to their interests.

“We focus on very much the same clientele, so we were constantly sending people in each other’s direction, telling them to go across the street,” Stiger said. “At one point we just decided, you know what we can split overhead and not have to keep sending people right down the road. It just made perfect sense for us to share one location.”  

Both Stiger and McDowell have merchandise which caters to specific niche markets. Stiger specializes in gaming, such as trading cards and boardgames, while McDowell sells comics, manga, toys, and accessories. However, they both share a love for what they do.

“Who doesn’t love games? When it came down to it, Magic the Gathering, which is kind of our bread and butter, is one of the few games that my wife and I were able to play together,” Stiger said. “When she got pregnant with her second child, I wanted to be able to spend more time at home and be with the kids and she wanted to spend more time away from the kids working. So it made sense to share what we loved and make a business out of it.”

McDowell said she began to love comics when she was just a child.

“My dad loves DC Comics and my mom loves Marvel Comics, so they had huge collections, and I would sneak upstairs and read them all the time,” McDowell said. “Comics were always something I remembered — loving the stories and seeing them have all these superpowers and overcome things.”

The two owners said they wish to share that love, especially with Hillsdale students. Their vision for the store is ambitious, but something that they both are excited about.

“We have a lot to offer the college on the gaming side of things, just as a place to hang out and meet new people. We have a lot of stuff that you can just rent to play,” Stiger said. “So for college, when you’re on a budget, who wouldn’t be willing to spend one dollar to have several hours of fun here? And you can effectively do that with a lot of the board games that we have here to rent.”

The store hopes to expand in the future and reach a larger group in the town and college.

“All the joint events that we do are called the Kingdom Geekdom,” McDowell said. “We are really hoping to grow that into something bigger. We can do more games, bigger tournaments, more events for all the different ages.”

The store is host to a small group of Hillsdalians who love all things geek.

“We have a core group that are here a lot. We just did the source, which was a lot of fun,” McDowell said. “It is hard to get visibility on campus because there is that separation between the town and the campus but that’s something that we’re really working on.”

Sophomore Avery Helms said he is excited that he gets to enjoy everything he loves in one place.

“It’s pretty cool that the Kingdom Geekdom is opening up in Hillsdale,” Helms said. “We’re a small town, there’s not much going on, so it’s nice to have business owners innovating and opening stuff like that. It’s nice to have card games and video games and comics consolidated in one location.”