Bay Area/ Oakland/ Retail & Industry
Published on December 04, 2018
Checkmate for EndGame: Oakland board-game shop to close its doors

Photo: Marcella C./Yelp

In February, one of the longest-term tenants of Old Oakland's Swan's Market will be permanently vacating the premises.

In what has become a familiar tale for many businesses in the Bay Area, 17-year-old EndGame (921 Washington St.), a one-stop shop for board-game lovers of all kinds, has decided to close after receiving a formidable rent increase.

EndGame's owners did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but they have openly discussed their struggles in a letter to customers on their website. The business already suffered a blow last year, when it was forced to close its three-year-old adjacent cafe, due to poor sales. 

The rent hike appears to have been the final straw.

"We've had the discussion with our landlords already," the owners write in their letter. "We are talking at a minimum double the rent we are already paying if we sign a new lease."

With "margins ... already razor-thin as it is," they've decided it's time to throw in the towel. 

"We are all pretty exhausted," the message continues. "Many of us have been doing this for a long time ... we are all tired." 

Photo: Moe R./Yelp

EndGame's event and gaming space will close first, shutting down on January 1. (December events will go on as scheduled through the end of the year.) A few special goodbye events may be held in January, but 2018 is customers' last chance to attend regular game nights. 

"Let's end 2018 at EndGame Irish wake-style," the owners write. "Every game night a party, every round played a reason for celebration."

January will be EndGame's "closeout month," with everything, including store materials, fixtures and furniture in the upstairs gaming space, on sale. The shop's hours of operation will also narrow, to noon-7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturdays. It will be closed on Sundays. 

"[Closing the business] will involve some expenses for us," write the owners, encouraging customers to help them out financially by taking advantage of the sales. 

They're also looking for a subtenant to take over the remainder of their lease. Thanks to the efforts of the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, the 4,200-square-foot space will be offered at a "significant discount on market rates to nonprofit organizations and small, locally owned emerging businesses" through September 2019. 

Those interested in a sublease, or in sharing ideas for potential uses for the space, can email EBALDC's Carolyn Johnson.

"We’ve had a great run, from 2001 to 2019, and you have all made that possible," EndGame's owners conclude in their letter. "Thank you for everything!"

EndGame's last day in business will be February 1.