Garrettsville – Michelle Rosenbaum ’12 and a few of her Hiram classmates were driving home from a Cleveland card shop about a year ago when an idea hit them.
“We all thought, ‘We really need a card shop closer,’” said Rosenbaum, a management major. “The one we came from was an hour away.”
Many would have dismissed that thought as wishful thinking, but Rosenbaum is rapidly making that wish a reality. On July 1st she opened her first business venture, Game Emporium, in Garrettsville.
“Ever since I started having a job, I always felt like I just want to own my own place, to work for myself,” Rosenbaum said. “All of my friends at Hiram, we play (card) games all the time, so I just kind of took that idea and ran with it.”
The concept of Game Emporium is pay-to-play gaming. Customers can come in with friends and pay to play either video games or card games based on hourly rates. Rosenbaum also plans to host tournaments and allow guests to rent rooms for parties.
“I hope to make it a general hangout place that people like to come to,” she said. “It’s going to be my social life so I want to get to know my customers and have a lot of regulars, too.”
Almost immediately after the Cleveland trip, Rosenbaum began doing research on the makeup of card shops, and how she might get one started in the area. Her management professors also directed her to Hiram’s annual ideablitz! competition during the Fall 2010 12-week semester.
The ideablitz! competition, put on by the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship, gives student entrepreneurs a chance to present their idea to a panel of judge in a three-minute “rocket pitch” presentation. Winners are awarded money to put their ideas into action.
Rosenbaum participated, but as an honorable mention, didn’t take home a cash prize. But she was already knee-deep in her project, and continued to move forward, despite not taking home one of the top prizes.
Starting her own business while still in college meant Rosenbaum had to learn everything as she went along. She began pricing items she knew she would need for her inventory and scoped out places around town that she could rent. She eventually decided on 8015 State Street in Garretsville – the former home of Movie Gallery.
Professors offered help along the way, as she completed every step, from filing paperwork, scheduling inspections and buying inventory from her own savings account. Her friends have helped her paint the store with various video game characters.
“I knew less than nothing when I started, honestly,” she said. “… It’s been a learning process.”
As a rising senior, she has two more semesters of classes and senior seminar to look forward to come fall. She plans to use what she’s learned about starting a business to complete her senior seminar.
And after Hiram? Rosenbaum is in this for the long haul – so if all goes well, Hiram will always be a short trip down Route 82.
A few years down the line, she said she’d like to look into opening another store in Portage County, possibly in Aurora or Kent. She also hopes to host tournaments for high school students, in which she can offer small scholarships to the winners.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the people and seeing everyone have fun,” Rosenbaum said, “and being the talk of town.”
The Game Emporium is open during the summer daily from noon-midnight and once school starts will be open Monday-Friday, 2 p.m.-midnight; Saturday-Sunday, noon-midnight. Call the store at 330 527-8010 to talk to Michelle about their private room and party packages
Printed with permission from Hiram College.