A new store, Clutch Gaming, opened in downtown Wheeling recently and is the brainchild of recent West Liberty University graduate Devin Harrison of Valley Grove. A member of the May 2015 graduating class, Harrison earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting, with two minors — one in entrepreneurship and another in computer information systems.
Located at 32-10th St., Clutch Gaming specializes in collectible card games and features Magic: The Gathering tournaments as well as YuGiOh and Dungeons and Dragons. Cards, card sleeves, deck boxes, play mats and the chance to play in daily tournaments are all part of the shop’s amenities.
Harrison’s academic background perfectly complements his business, since the Trading Card Game (TCG) business deals in a hobby that got a big push from video games and digital graphics.
“I used to play every day on campus and was part of the Role Playing Club (student club). But I first started playing when I was about 10 years old,” Harrison said. His cousin Zachary Goudy of Moundsville is part owner of the business.
“My degree gave me the education on how to run a business. Dr. Carrie White advised me and helped me get the business started, and Professor Mike Blackwell advised me too,” Harrison said. Dr. White is the director of WLU’s entrepreneurship center and Blackwell is an accounting instructor, both at the Gary E. West College of Business.
Harrison worked on his budding business for a couple years, seeking a storefront and the right partner. He previously participated in one of West Liberty University’s Pitch Contests as he planned his new business.
Though he’s only been open for about six weeks, he’s pleased with the public’s response. The shop drew 26 players for its biggest tournament thus far, and he’s got room to seat 64 players and a separate room all together for Dungeons and Dragons gamers (who tend to get loud).
Magic is the most popular game at the moment, according to Harrison. This game is geared to ages 13 and up, and over its 20-plus years of existence it has added over 12,000 different cards in 11 languages, according to its website magic.wizards.com. A subsidiary of Hasbro, Magic is part of the Wizards of the Coast Company located in Seattle, Wash., which claims Magic is played by more than 12 million people across the globe!
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A new game that Harrison now carries is Force of Will, and he also carries YuGiOh, which is geared to ages 6 and up.
Currently, he and Goudy are the only employees. The shop is open noon – 10 p.m., Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturdays. Gamers pay $5 to play in a store tournament and earn a chance to win store credit or products.
His 6 p.m. tournaments on Tuesday and Wednesdays are the biggest draws thus far (Tuesday is YuGiOh and Wednesday is Magic).
Why do gamers seek a place like Clutch Gaming to play cards.
“There’s more interaction with others at a TCG shop and mine is sanctioned for play, so points build up for the player and the Wizard Company actually offers rewards too for their play,” explained Harrison. Organized play, as it’s officially known, is found in bigger cities everywhere. So are Wizard Play Networks (WPN), the term for sanctioned play.
Individual cards sell for a wide range of prices and you can also buy the starter packs of TCGs. Harrison’s highest priced card, a 1996 rarity, is going for $400. It’s called the Game Boy Blue Eyes White Dragon from the Dark Duel Stories and was packed with a Game Boy game.
Other examples of Magic cards include legendary creatures like Dragonlord Atarka, Genesis Hydra, and Elvish Mystic, or the $250 card, Chains of Mephistopheles, a 1994 Magic collectible card.
Trading Card Games are popular with all ages, not just teens. Though more guys than girls play, females do enjoy the games.
Why did he name his store Clutch Gaming LLC?
“I picked clutch as a name because it’s a term that stands for a game-changing play, like in baseball, the clutch hitter is the one relied on to bring in the big hit,” he said.
Clutch Gaming will soon be selling cards online too, and he expects that to help grow his business. But right now, most evenings bring dozens of players into the new store to relax and enter the colorful world of TCG. Harrison sells snacks to keep his customers happy and will teach you to play, if need be.
“It takes about 30 minutes to teach someone the basics. I’m happy to do that. I also plan on visiting college campuses and our local high schools in the fall to spread the word,” he said. Harrison is a John Marshall High School graduate himself.
Devin is married to another WLU graduate, Christiana Bradley Harrison, who earned her dental hygiene degree this past May. To reach Clutch Gaming by phone, call 304.233.1634, or you can find them on Facebook or visit the soon active website, clutchgamingllc.com.