Families discover fun and games at specialty stores

Looking for a new way to spend some quality time with your family during the long winter months?

Local game stores offer special board game nights so customers can spend a few hours trying out some of their products while having a little fun. Adults and families can try new games or play old favorites and see if there is something they like enough to buy and bring home.

{The Board Game Barrister}: 6170 W. Grand Ave., Gurnee, (847) 856-1800,

The new gaming store at Gurnee Mills Mall opened an event space in November and is just starting to use it. While unstructured board game play was very popular at the store's Wisconsin location, manager Gordon Lugauer said he's still figuring out what people are interested in doing at the new store. Ideas for the future include running game demos, Monopoly and Scrabble nights, and teaching people how to play party games.

“If you have things that you want to see, talk to us,” Lugauer said.

{Cat and Mouse Game Store}: 2212 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, (773) 384-4454,

Since Cat and Mouse Game Store opened two years ago, the shop has been bringing out adults and families with older children for game nights from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays. You can usually find two to four tables of players checking out the store's library of hundreds of demo games.

“It gives people the opportunity to learn new games and try things out that they weren't familiar with,” owner Linda Schmidt said.

{Chicagoland Games}: 5550 N. Broadway St., Chicago, (773) 728-3656,

Two-year-old game store Chicagoland Games has been hosting weekly family gaming nights for the last year. From 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, the store sets up eight gaming tables where visitors can try anything from a selection of more than 400 games including many of their newest offerings. The focus is on European board games. All of the games require reading comprehension, so the store mostly attracts parents with children ages 9 and older.

“We're pushing the idea of families playing board games together instead of watching TV,” co-owner J.P. Nery said. “It's really neat to see parents play games with their kids. You really get to see how smart your kid has gotten.”

{Games Plus}: 101 Prospect Ave., Mount Prospect, (847) 577-9656,

Thursday, Feb. 10, is the next board game day at Games Plus. The 29-year-old store has been holding monthly board gaming events since it moved to a larger location 11 years ago and had more space for playing. Adults and families start coming in at 10 a.m. While things tend to slow down in the evening, people keep playing until the store closes at 10 p.m.

“We reserve a few tables for board gaming,” co-owner Curt Duval said. “People will bring in some games that they're interested in playing and take a look at what other people have brought or set down what they brought and see who wants to join them.”

{Unique Gifts and Games}: 82 Center St., Grayslake, (847) 548-8270,

Families, teens and adults have been coming to Unique Gifts and Games' weekly game nights for two years. From 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, players can use the store's space to play games they bring from home or try something from their collection of about 50 board and card games.

“We're always adding to it as much as we can,” co-owner Kathleen Wickes said. “Some people like to try a game out before they spend the money.”

Families take a chance on having some fun at special game nights every Thursday at Unique Gifts and Games in Grayslake. Courtesy of Unique Gifts and Games