National geek-focused retail brand Geek Retreat has opened a new location in Cardiff with another in Newport due to launch next month.
The stores join the brand’s first Welsh site in Llandudno.
Geek Retreat is a ‘geek culture’ retailer, gaming cafe and event hub all rolled into one, which aims to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment for geeks to find a community with similar interests.
Following the opening of the first store in Glasgow in 2013, the Geek Retreat brand embarked on a rapid national franchise-based expansion program and recently added two new Welsh stores to its portfolio.
Geek Retreat Cardiff at Morgan Arcade is owned by Kayleigh Miller and her partner Morgan Stewart-Norris. Geek Retreat Newport, run by Liam Powell and his business partner Craig Harrhy, is set to open in March. All were inspired to open their own Geek Retreat locations due to a long-standing love and association with all things geek culture.
Opening a toy store is something my childhood friend and I used to talk about for hours when we were younger,” said Liam“He used to come to my house to play games and I would go to his house to do the same, so the fact that I ended up opening a store dedicated to that world is no surprise to anyone who knows me!”
“Geek Retreat is a space where you can be yourself, where people who like the same things you can talk about it together,” Kayleigh says, “those are probably some of the interests you enjoyed growing up. that people might have teased you about it because it was ‘geeky’ or ‘lame’. But the geek sector has created a space where things like Dungeons & Dragons, and things like that, are cool. Our goal is to provide space to fit in, a safe area to meet people who share your interests and where staff will accompany you!
“Geek culture is driven by a wide range of genres and an unwavering inclusiveness. Whatever your background, who you are, what you look like, what your interests are, you will find a home with all of us.
The growth of the Geek Retreat brand is aligned with the continued rise of the multi-billion pound geek economy over recent years, a trend accelerated by the pandemic which has seen online games as entertainment, connection and solace for many people over the past few years. two years.
The creator of the iconic Dungeons & Dragons tabletop fantasy role-playing game, Seattle-based Wizards of the Coast, told the BBC that thousands of new fans have joined their community, leading to increased revenue with global growth of 33% year-over-year in 2020.
Combine that with factors like the exponential success of multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and old-school comic book sales at an all-time high, and it’s clear that a real geek movement is at play.
Liam and Craig and Kayleigh and Morgan have raised capital to launch their Geek Retreat locations through the British Business Bank’s seed loan scheme, receiving £50,000 and £25,000 respectively.
Both accessed a start-up loan from the British Business Bank through a referral to Transmit Startups by Geek Retreat Franchising.
The British Business Bank’s Start-up Loan Scheme offers government guaranteed loans of up to £25,000 per person, up to a maximum of £100,000 per business, facilitated by delivery partners in Wales such as Business in Focus based in Bridgend. In addition to funding, successful applicants receive 12 months of free mentorship and advice.
The Start Up Loans scheme has provided over 4,000 individual loans to entrepreneurs in Wales over the past nine years, worth over £40million.
“The loan was vital for us” said Kayleigh“Starting a business is scary and not knowing where to start can be very difficult, but being able to access funding to help with the initial set-up makes the process much less daunting.”
I am 29 years old and although I had saved some money, I did not have the amount of capital needed to make becoming a Geek Retreat franchisee a reality. If it hadn’t been for the start-up loan from the British Business Bank, I would still be working at my usual job to pay the bills.
Beth Bannister, Senior Manager for Wales at British Business Bank, said:
The opening of these new Welsh Geek Retreat sites, led by four young, driven entrepreneurs, is exactly why our Startup Loan Program exists.
“It is critical to our economy that people like Liam, Craig, Kayleigh and Morgan have the best chance of success in their business ventures. Despite the difficulties of the past two years, Wales remains a fertile place for the establishment and growth of small businesses. In fact, since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen a record number of new businesses spring up, and we want to give them every chance to grow and thrive. »