Did you know there’s a cool shop for all things ‘Gaming’ right in the heart of Canton? Whether you’re looking for old school or new, Canton Games is Baltimore’s best source for all of your gaming and collectible needs. The store, owned by Dan Hoffman, is located at the corner of Essex and Fleet Streets. Here’s what Dan has to say about Canton, gaming, holiday shopping, and more.
When did you open Canton Games and why did you pick Canton?
I'm not the original owner of Canton Games. CG was started around 2006, by Brian and Candy Rosenberg, who lived in the area. I met Brian at a game convention sometime around 2009 and took on a part-time job at the shop. I worked my way up to manager fairly shortly, and after a little while, Brian and Candy had a few kids, got too busy to run the store and made me an offer to take over for them.
One of the first questions Brian asked me after I accepted the offer was "So are you planning to move the store out of the city?" I said "No way! I love it here. This is about the best part of Baltimore I could ever be in!" Canton is great. People are nice, and we're right by the waterfront… Why would I leave?
Tell us about the store.
We're primarily a board game store. We specialize in strategic games like Ticket to Ride and Catan. We also host a lot of Magic tournaments, Dungeons & Dragons and some other RPGs (role-playing games). We've got a Chess display that I'm really proud of and we also recently started carrying retro video games. The old Nintendo games that you grew up with? We've got those.
What are some popular items for holiday gift-giving this season?
There are a few good ones. There's a new card game out called Keyforge that I'm absolutely in love with. There's no deckbuilding like some other games - you just buy your deck and play it. But the trick is - every single deck that's ever been printed is unique; all of them, every one across the world! It's so cool - you'll never have the same play experience because you'll never play against the same deck.
There's also a game called 8 Bit Box. It's a board game console. It comes with cardboard controllers used to play different games. Three games come with it, and they all simulate old video games you used to play as a kid. There's Pixoid, which is basically Pac-Man, but your friends are the ghosts trying to eat you. There's a racing game that feels like F-Zero, and there's Stadium that is a Track & Field style collection of mini games. It's awesome.
We also have the absolute coolest chess set I've ever seen - you make your move on the board, the board thinks about it for a minute and then moves its pieces automatically. It's wild - you've got to see this.
We know you are an active member of the Canton community. One of the thoughtful services you provide as a neighborhood business is accepting packages for residents. How does that work?
Package thieves are a problem in Canton. If something arrives while you're at work, it's probably going to be gone before you get home. So if you live in Canton, you can have your packages shipped to the store. I'll hang onto it until you can pick it up after work. I get in a LOT of packages, though, so I tend to enforce a one-day limit. You've got to pick your box up the day it comes in or else I have to send it back. (If you're on Facebook in the Canton Neighbors group, there's a post with more details.)
What do you like most about living and working in the Canton Community?
I like the people in Canton. Some days I'll just sit outside of my store and talk to people as they walk by. I'll pet dogs and talk to babies. Canton's a real community, not just a bunch of people who live near each other. It feels good to be a part of that.
Is there anything else you’d like the community to know?
Come pick up your boxes!
Also, when you're out buying presents this year, remember to shop locally. Keep your money in the community. Before you hit the big box stores and online shopping sites consider stopping by Canton Games and the other small businesses in the area. Us little guys need your support to stay open. When you buy something at a small business, you're helping put my employees through school. You're helping me buy pull-ups for my toddlers, buy them medicine when they're sick, and let me take them out for pizza when they're good. And I appreciate that.