The sign has been swinging in the breeze for weeks and on Monday, Merrymac Games and Comics, Merrimack's newest local business, will be opening its doors.
Owner Chris Lepkowski has been working day in and out preparing the store, which is filling the former cafe space where Out of the Woods Cafe was located until the middle of 2012. Doing the majority of the construction and set up himself, with some help from friends, Lepkowski is readying for a soft opening of his store.
Merrymac Games and Comics is going to be a place in town where people can buy games of all sorts – board games, card games, video games – comic books and more.
“We may possibly have video games all the way back to systems like Intellivision,” Lepkowski said.
But, as many comic books and game stores go these days, Merrymac Games and Comics will be more.
It will be a place to go to play games, be them card games like Magic or to challenge your friends to a little friendly XBox competition.
Lepkowski, who owns the business with a few silent partners who at this time want to stay so, is the face of the 515 Daniel Webster Highway store, and said his long term goals for the store are still developing as he sets his short terms goals in the interim.
“If you keep setting short term goals, you'll eventually get to a long-term goal you like,” Lepkowski said.
One of his first goals, outside of having the store ready and open to go Monday, is attract a fun grand opening type crowd during an event he's planning to run at the store during Free Comic Book Day.
Free Comic Book Day is a national event on the first Saturday of May, this year on May 4, when he's planning to have some fun events as well as free comics. Lepkowski said he'll release more information about his plans for that weekend as it gets closer, but he hopes to be able to bring in a couple artists to visit, among other things
Speaking to a current pop-cultural reference, Lepkowski said his store, to an extent, will be like the comic store in “The Big Bang Theory” in terms of products they carry, but people shouldn't expect the volume of comics that are seen on the show. At least not yet.
“It's really hard to open a store like what's in 'The Big Bang Theory.' Until people know you're there and you've established a clientele, you won't be able to move that volume of comics.”
Additionally, Lepkowski said it will be at least a few weeks before a larger volume of comic books comes in, but he will be stocked by the time Free Comic Book Day Rolls around.
Lepkowski says he's ventured into business before, though he didn't specify what, saying this is the biggest undertaking he's delved into.
Lepkowski, who grew up in Merrimack, said he chose the town for a couple reasons.
“Merrimack is a much better location for a small business,” as compared to Nashua and Manchester, and not as heavily trafficked, meaning lease space is about half as expensive. But there are still a lot of people coming through town, more so now with the Outlets.
He hopes Merrymac Games and Comics is a place that people with varied interests will browse and gather to play with friends.
Eventually, on the gaming side of it, he said he'd like to be able to earn an advanced status with Wizards of the Coast, the organization the own Magic cards, hold Battle Roads with Pokemon and do sneak peak events for Yu-Gi-Oh.
With video games, people will be able to buy and sell used video games and consoles as well as play on the consoles he'll have set up in the back of the store. He plans to have from PS3 back to the Atari/first Nintendo-era.
Lepkowski said he's not sure what to expect for clientele in the store, only time will tell. Will it be a place for teens? Sure, he said, if that's what they are into. Instead of going in with a set expectation of who his customers will be, Lepkowski has a more community-minded approach.
“It all comes down to the people in the community,” Lepkowski said. “That has to be the focus in a business like this. What does the client want?”
Lepkowski, who has a a degree in chemical engineering with nuclear options, and some coursework completed toward a masters in nuclear engineering, said after a period of time away from school, he wanted to break path and focus on something else. And he found his way with games and comics.
“If you're going to do something, you might as well do something you enjoy,” he said.
Merrymac Games and Comics is scheduled to open for business on Monday, March 11. Normal hours will be Monday through Friday, 11a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday from 1-7 p.m. Call the store at (603) 420-8161 and find it on Facebook.