Looking At The Local: Chimera Leisure Nottingham
  • Looking At The Local: Chimera Leisure Nottingham


    Chimera in Beeston has not only become a focal point of the RPG and CCG communities in Nottingham, it has been nominated local business of the year several years running and has won that title against 'mainstream' businesses.


    Before setting up Chimera 12 years ago in Ripley, Derbyshire (it then moved to Nottingham), Andy Leach worked primarily in retail, developing an understanding of what made customer bases tick. His wife and co-director, Heather worked in distribution and for the miniatures company Alternative Armies on the launch of their miniatures wargame, Flintloque. When the opportunity arose, the couple decided to take the skillsets they had and fuse them with their passions – Tabletop RPGS and CCG's. "We went in with our eyes open, knowing it would be hard work; it was a lifestyle choice." says Andy of the decision.

    Their commitment to Chimera as a lifestyle choice brought about the stores success. The store has always focused on community above all else, "If we sell you something, you should be able to play it with us." is the store ethos. Andy mentions that they paid attention to a strategy implemented by Starbucks and modelled the store as a 'Third space' – one that wasn't work or home but a safe, familiar place to relax and think. It certainly seems to have paid off. With eight regular D&D groups, organised play for every single card game you can think of, an all day RPG session once a month (18 games run during one day) and community projects, the store is flourishing. But it hasn't all been easy.

    "You have to have zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour" says Andy of the store's inclusive environment. "We don't tolerate discrimination or bullying in any form and equality is always at the forefront of our mind." I pointed out that the store has had an almost equal gender balance in its staff from day one and asked if it is linked to this policy. "While I think representation is important, I can't say it was any kind of plan. It turns out if you honestly just employ the best people for the job, half of them tend to turn out to be female." he says.


    With the current market shifts, it's been useful to be that open as well. Andy remarks that Chimera has seen a massive upsurge in sales of D&D since the release of 5th edition and the boost in livestreaming, noting in particular the influence of Shut Up & Sit Down and Critical Role. "The audience has changed. People who didn't want to sit and read a massive book can see it's really shared storytelling. The best advertisement for the game has always been to see it played. People are always looking for the new D&D release." This however, has created problems "The industry is very new release driven. It means that you're stuck with not having cash flow to get enough product fast or speculatively ordering too many in. It's hard to balance."

    I begin to understand why so many stores now do pre-orders as standard. "It's worse when several things release at the same time" he notes.

    One of the things he's noticed is that the audience that come for 5e branch into other games, like Starfinder. He says spreading interest is vital to the business "It's important to be able to consider the viability of hosting as a financial venture. Especially as we don't charge for tablespace. That's a model a lot of people choose because it's a sensible way to profit fairly. For us, once we could afford to do it for free, we did. It's part of the 'play with us' ethos."

    We return to talking about community and how it has been the reason the store has been successful. "Some furniture and cookware stores are now doing sleepovers and classes. "Retail-tainment" is the concept of adding entertainment and experiences to retail." He says "Games stores have been doing this for decades, we've got experience in it. They needed to do it to survive the recession. Game stores with good communities are – or should be – more recession proof."

    contributed by Benjamin Jackson
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    Comments 6 Comments
    1. EthanSental's Avatar
      EthanSental -
      Great story and store from description above!! I'll be honest, I had a difficult time "reading" the store name from the font or design. Couldn't tell what is was even knowing the name from the paragraph it's like a 3D puzzle from Seinfeld, I stared at it trying to make it
    1. John R Davis's Avatar
      John R Davis -
      It is a great place. I don't get there often enough
    1. Amy Cholerton's Avatar
      Amy Cholerton -
      Quote Originally Posted by EthanSental View Post
      Great story and store from description above!! I'll be honest, I had a difficult time "reading" the store name from the font or design. Couldn't tell what is was even knowing the name from the paragraph it's like a 3D puzzle from Seinfeld, I stared at it trying to make it
      Just in case you didn't spot it, the store name logo reads Chimera both ways if you flip it upside and backwards.

      I've been playing and buying from Chimera since 2008 when I discovered it as a cosy store in Ripley. Amongst the Chimera team I have found some wonderful friends and rolemodels, and through their open and warm community some real friends for life and even love. I have discovered a whole range of games through my student and young adult years that I now have the joy of sharing with young children in my own family. More than that, the way the Chimera team and supporting community approach gaming has given me so much confidence.

      Chimera isn't just a store for me, it's a home away from home, a family.
    1. N01H3r3's Avatar
      N01H3r3 -
      Second picture down on the left, in the STAR Labs sweatshirt, is me, GMing a demo game of the Infinity RPG.

      Chimera is a great store, and really eager to support and promote the games industry presence in Nottingham, providing a great avenue to connect creators to the rest of the community. If it weren't quite so far away from me (just too far to go for a quick visit, so I'll head over if I plan to run or play something there), I'd visit more regularly.
    1. Christopher Helton's Avatar
      Christopher Helton -
      Quote Originally Posted by N01H3r3 View Post
      Second picture down on the left, in the STAR Labs sweatshirt, is me, GMing a demo game of the Infinity RPG.
      I pulled that off of the Chimera FB page for Benji's piece, because I thought it could stand some pictures of the store.
    1. EthanSental's Avatar
      EthanSental -
      I didn't notice the backwards and forward design, stands out now that you mention it. Always great to have a store like this to go to in a persons general area. My comic and gaming store has the same vibe....cheers to great stores!
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