Michelle Rosenbaum ’12 and a few of her Hiram classmates were driving home from a Cleveland card shop about a year ago when an idea hit them.
“We all thought, ‘We really need a card shop closer,’” said Rosenbaum, a management major. “The one we came from was an hour away.”
Many would have dismissed that thought as wishful thinking, but Rosenbaum is rapidly making that wish a reality, as she gets ready
to open her first business venture, Game Emporium, on July 1 in Garrettsville.
“Ever since I started having a job, I always felt like I just want to own my own place, to work for myself,” Rosenbaum said. “All of my friends at Hiram, we play (card) games all the time, so I just kind of took that idea and ran with it.”
The concept of Game Emporium is pay-to-play gaming. Customers can come in with friends and pay to play either video games or card games based on hourly rates. Rosenbaum also plans to host tournaments and allow guests to rent rooms for parties.
“I hope to make it a general hangout place that people like to come to,” she said. “It’s going to be my social life so I want to get to know my customers and have a lot of regulars, too.”
Almost immediately after the Cleveland trip, Rosenbaum began doing research on the makeup of card shops, and how she might get one started in the area. Her management professors also directed her to Hiram’s annual ideablitz! competition during the Fall 2010 12-week semester.
The ideablitz! competition, put on by the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship, gives student entrepreneurs a chance to present their idea to a panel of judge in a three-minute “rocket pitch” presentation. Winners are awarded money to put their ideas into action.
Rosenbaum participated, but as an honorable mention, didn’t take home a cash prize. But she was already knee-deep in her project, and continued to move forward, despite not taking home one of the top prizes.
Starting her own business while still in college meant Rosenbaum had to learn everything as she went along. She began pricing items she knew she would need for her inventory and scoped out places around town that she could rent. She eventually decided on 8015 State Street in Garretsville – the former home of Movie Gallery.
Professors offered help along the way, as she completed every step, from filing paperwork, scheduling inspections and buying inventory from her own savings account. Her friends have helped her paint the store with various video game characters.
“I knew less than nothing when I started, honestly,” she said. “… It’s been a learning process.”
As a rising senior, she has two more semesters of classes and senior seminar to look forward to come fall. She plans to use what she’s learned about starting a business to complete her senior seminar.
And after Hiram? Rosenbaum is in this for the long haul – so if all goes well, Hiram will always be a short trip down Route 82.
A few years down the line, she said she’d like to look into opening another store in Portage County, possibly in Aurora or Kent. She also hopes to host tournaments for high school students, in which she can offer small scholarships to the winners.
But for now, she can’t wait for July 1.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the people and seeing everyone have fun,” Rosenbaum said, “and being the talk of town.”
On the first floor, customers will be able to play table-top card games in “The Dungeon”
Upstairs, customers can pay by the half-hour to play video games on X-Box, PlayStation 3 and Wii.
Rosenbaum’s friends painted the video game characters that line the walls in Game Emporium.
Private Room Packages:Chill packages: Ideal for pen and paper role plays or private table top games
Fire packages: Ideal for birthday parties and other celebrations
** Private rooms must be reserved at least 24 hours in advance. When making reservations, please provide pizza and cake preferences. Reservations for a full day are made on a first come, first serve basis.
Call the store to talk to Michelle about package customization if you don’t see what you’re looking for.