Erica and Rob Gonzales have been so successful with their Duke City Games store in Albuquerque that they wanted to give the City of Vision “gamers” an opportunity closer to home. (Gary Herron/Observer)
If you’re into gaming, you’ll want to go to Duke City Games’ new Rio Rancho location in Tarpon Plaza.
“Rio Rancho is under-served,” said Duke City Games co-owner Rob Gonzales.
The store opens Tuesday and is about a third of the size of Rob and Erica Gonzales’s original Duke City Games, in the Northeast Heights (11130 Lomas NE, Suite F7), which opened in April.
You’ll find gamers of all ages, Pokemon and Magic cards, Funk Pop figures, sports cards, eSports and a friendly, knowledgeable staff.
“We have the largest selection of Pokemon cards that you can have,” said Rob.
Kids as young as 5 and adults in their 80s can find something to entertain them.
Don’t know how to play “Dungeons and Dragons” or any of the new games out there?
“We teach the games that we play,” Rob said.
“When people walk in, do they have a good time?” Rob wants to hear “Yes.”
The Rio Rancho store has new flooring, four TV screens for gamers and long glass counters showing off merchandise.
The two met in church and have been married 10 years. Rob is a 1997 graduate of Eldorado High School; his wife Erica,(nee Lizon) graduated from Rio Rancho High School in 2007.
They grew up as self-proclaimed “nerdy kids.”
“I learned to play ‘Magic: The Gathering’ when I was a freshman at Eldorado,” Rob said. “Back then, card games and gaming in general wasn’t the most-popular thing to do.
“When we go on vacation, we go visit card-game stores,” seeking ways to improve their business, as well as competing in gaming tournaments.
“I’ve played competitive ‘Magic’ for probably 20 years, traveling around, playing professionally,” he added, winning $9,000 after finishing ninth at a pro tour stop in Montreal. “I love playing ‘Magic.’”
Erica “played games; more like Life or Scrabble. I was kinda one of those lonely kids in Rio Rancho, that didn’t have a game store. If my parents didn’t want to play with me – and my brothers were all older – I would play by myself, like play different characters. Kinda sad.”
At Duke City Games, the bar has been set high: “We’ve just tried our best to stay ahead of the curve … We want to be the best game store in the country.”
“Normally, when you think of a game store, you think of something that’s not that well-lit, it’s junky, it’s small, with small, stinky bathrooms,” Rob said. “We wanted to have a place that was super-open, super-welcoming. People walk in and they feel at home.”
The Albuquerque location is open daily noon to 9 p.m.; the Rio Rancho shop is open 2-9 p.m. every day. No cash is accepted at either location. (dukecity.games or find them on Facebook)