Purchasing, transforming, and running a business is not an easy task by any means. Just ask Shane Wicker – current owner of Sword N Board in Lafayette. Shane bought Sword N Board just last year and although he has faced many challenges, there have been many more exciting and incredible moments.
Since becoming the owner of this gaming shop, Shane and his wife Amanda have implemented several changes. “We wanted to make this place more inviting for people. One of the biggest ways to do that was to make the space more open,” says Shane. “We knocked down a large green wall that was separating the play area from the retail area. We put in bright flooring and lighting in the front halls, and light walls to reflect the light better and help catch people’s eyes. We also cleared out the window space so people can see inside.”
They also made changes to the store so that families could feel welcome. “Amanda, my wife, is here and my kids are here, and so we want people and parents to understand that this is a family-friendly place. This is also a pet-friendly place. We have a cat here and every once in a while our dog comes. There’s a big grassy area in the back where pets can run,” says Shane.
The changes to the store go beyond physical aspects. Shane has worked hard to transform the mentality surrounding Sword N Board by implementing rules that promote respect and equality. “Rape jokes will get you banned on the spot. Same with racists jokes, jokes about sexual orientation, or anything that might make someone else feel like they shouldn’t be in the store,” says Shane. “If you say the word ‘stupid’ we have a five push up rule. You’re not required to do it of course, but most people will agree to it. We want to call out those regularly negative statements that are seen in EA sports and gaming and get rid of those. By getting rid of that atmosphere, people are kind to each other, nicer, and they’re able to better respect themselves because they’re not filling themselves with negativity.”
By promoting positivity and an atmosphere of respect, Sword N Board has seen some major, positive changes. “Our new rules have reduced the amount of fights quite a bit,” says Shane. “We lost a fair amount of customers when we implemented those rules, but to be fair, those were the communities we didn’t want to support in the first place. You can’t have a no rape joke policy and expect a community that likes to consistently make rape jokes.”
Shane cares deeply about the community of people who come to Sword N Board, and he also is passionate about the community of Acadiana as a whole. “We did a birthday party here, and both the kids and the parents loved it. We’re very community driven. We’ve done stuff for Extra Life which is a charity for gamers to raise money for children’s hospitals around the world. We’ve also done other bigger events like the Cajundome, which was a lot of fun,” says Shane. “I always want to be pushing myself to do more in the community.”
Shane hasn’t always lived in Acadiana. He grew up in Seattle and California, and lived in Denver prior to moving out to Lafayette. However, he has quickly come to appreciate Acadian culture. “I personally like the idea that I’m bringing more of a big-city feel to a mid-sized city, and that’s not an insult in anyway. Lafayette has small-town values while it’s trying to grow into a bigger community. I grew up in a town just like that. A town where you’re trying to keep everyone connected while also building out so that people who want to move in, will actually move in,” says Shane.
“I’ve been trying to branch out and show other gaming stores that we can all still work together. I’ve been trying to work with other stores since day one. I’ll organize events and say, ‘hey let’s all throw our money together and go do this.’ Because at the end of the day, none of our stores are going to make it if we don’t work together,” comments Shane. “That’s why we go to the fire station and do free demo games with them. We also give teachers free game developing classes. For me, not being from here, that’s how I feel is the best way to become a part of the community. I’ll say, ‘hey, I have experience in this kind of stuff let’s just do it.’ ”
When asked if there’s anything else he’d like to get across about Sword N Board, Shane optimistically speaks about the future of the store. “For people who have never been in here before, or might be new to gaming, I’d like to get across that we are here for the community and we’re not going anywhere. We’ve got contracts with the Cajundome, and our kitchen and bar area are being developed so we can be an event location for birthday parties, lock-ins, hell, wedding receptions – I don’t care! For us, it’s more about trying to remind people that it doesn’t matter who owns the store if the store is doing the right things for the community,” says Shane.
That’s the benefit of shopping local – you get to interact with business owners who truly care about your community! You can find Sword N Board on Towny – the FREE and easy way to explore Acadiana, choose local, and get rewarded for doing so! Find Towny online or download the mobile app for your phone.