Geared for Games encourages people to interact | SierraSun.com

Geared for Games encourages people to interact

One local family feels that screens are taking over interactive quality time more than ever and wants to encourage people to get back to the basics, pull out a deck of cards or a board game, and connect authentically with loved ones.

Brad Hester and his wife Carol, opened Geared for Games in the Boatworks Mall in Tahoe City 24 years ago. They also own Mind Play in the Village at Squaw Valley.

"We have two major themes here and at Mind Play: first, everything fits in luggage. Everything is a small size for families, who are traveling. Second, and most important, we want people interacting. We don't sell video games or things like that, instead we want people playing, making eye contact, really interacting," Brad Hester said.

His daughter, Jessica Hester, grew up in Tahoe City, left to earn her degree in New Zealand, and said she was drawn back to her hometown. Now, she runs Geared for Games, taking over the family business and encouraging a new generation not to lose sight of what's really important.

"We played games when I was a kid, one night a week we would watch Disney, and we always took games with us when traveling," she said.

Spreading the love for old-fashioned good, clean fun has been a way of life for the Hesters, who ran into challenges last winter during heavy storms, which caused major flood damage to Geared for Games. That forced them to close in January 2017 to remodel through April 2017.

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"It was Jan. 8, we had flooding up the walls, water was pouring in from the ceiling. It was the support of the Boatworks Mall and the community that got us through; we really want to thank the locals in our community," Brad Hester said.

In addition to thanking the community, one of Jessica's priorities is being a pillar in the education and entertainment realms of the North Lake Tahoe area.

"My parents were always involved in the schools when we were growing up, and we want to continue to support the education system here by getting involved with kids and schools. We also want to support the people in this community that has supported us; we want to give everyone laughs," she said.

In the coming months, Geared for Games will host game nights from Jake's On The Lake, as well as other fun and interactive events to encourage play among the community.

Geared for Games arranges its plethora of merchandise in the following categories: Young Explorers, Travel Games, Strategy Games, Arts & Crafts, Creative Play, Outdoor Fun, Kids Games, Family Games, Work Zone, Puzzles, Party Games, and Odds & Ends.

The store's shelves house games, toys and trinkets for children, as well as kits and thoughtful gifts for adults like a murder mystery dinner party kit and panic-room kit for your friends and family to plan a strategic escape.

Since the local library upstairs in the same building shut down, the Hesters have brought in books for purchase and say they pay attention to the most popular games among Tahoe locals.

"We practically can't keep Catan on the shelves; a lot of people like that and other strategy games. Jigsaw puzzles, believe it or not, are a huge seller as well. You might not think of it, but people love puzzles," Brad Hester said.

Jessica Hester said one of her favorite games is Cranium, a classic. She also suggested that families looking to get into game night lure their children away from their phones and television sets with Apples to Apples.

"Apples to Apples is great for families, it's a basic, fun game that is appropriate for all ages, everyone can do it and it's quick and fun," she said.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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The Hesters own Geared For Games, located in the Boatworks Shopping Mall in Tahoe City as well as Mind Play, located in the village at Squaw Valley. Both stores offer all kinds of interactive games, kits and toys for endless family fun.