Old-fashioned arcade games lining the back wall, shelves stacked high with plush Pokemon toys, original Nintendo DS games from 2004, game consoles dating back to the ’60s proudly displayed in glass cases, Harry Potter amulets dangling from racks and rows of Funko Pop Figures swallowing nearly an entire wall; This is the scene that greets customers when they enter the doors of the newly relocated Gamer Oasis.
This new-age gaming store carries everything from retro games and consoles to trading cards and the newest video-game releases. It was originally founded as “8bit Oasis” in 2014 by Harrisonburg local Lauren Davis, but this past summer, the store underwent major changes with a rebranding campaign to accompany its recent move from Carlton Street to a more central location in downtown Harrisonburg.
The independent gaming shop seems like a strange addition to the landscape of the Friendly City, as a GameStop already exists just a few blocks from campus.
But Gamer Oasis is more than just a gaming store.
“It feels like going into a classic arcade from the ’90s … with the old-style standing arcade games,” avid gamer and junior geographic science major Robby Cordts said. “It was a really inviting environment … a super cool place.”
Behind the nearly endless shelves brimming with products for gamers of all ages is a large section of tables at the back of the store set up for group games like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. Space that could’ve been filled with more merchandise is instead being used to bring people together and build an accepting community where all players are welcome.
“The mission of the store is to create a safe environment for gamers and non-gamers alike,” Davis said. “One where people can learn new games, meet new friends, escape from the constant rush of everyday life and just have fun. We all have an inner child, and we are there to help you find it.”
This hidden gem in Harrisonburg allows the gaming community to spend time with each other and enjoy games they’re passionate about. It’s a place where people not only buy their new favorite games but play them, too.
Customers are free to bring their own games to play with friends or attend one of the many events the shop hosts for the community. Every Tuesday, there’s a D&D Adventure League session that’s free and open to anyone.
On weekends, it has a “Boards and Brews” event for gamers over 21 in the area. On Valentine’s Day, it hosts a “Find Your Player Two” event for single gamers. Periodically, it also has a variety of buy-in tournaments and cash prizes for games like Warhammer 40,000 and Magic: The Gathering.
With hundreds of products, gaming events every week and a staff that values community and inclusion as its top priority, it appears the store lives up to its ambitious name. One might view it as a paradise — an oasis — for gamers of all ages.
“One of my favorite things about this store is this community, being able to give everyone a place to hang out regardless of what you like, what your interests are,” Hersey Lane, a JMU alumnus (’18) and the store’s online media content manager, said. “So just come on out. See what we’re about. Odds are, if you’re interested in it, we carry it.”
Contact Alexandra Dauchess at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.