Get in the Game (Board Games)

Twenty-four years ago, John Pust, formerly an 18-year-old restaurant manager and part-time construction worker, wanted something more. “Working hard is hard,” says Pust, who comes from a long line of construction workers. He wanted to do something working with his passion as well as his hands. “I wanted to build something similar to underground punk shop Raunch in SLC. We wanted something like that in Ogden, and I really felt like we were trying to fill a gap—appealing to the growing interest in collecting comics and records.

So Pust opened five credit card accounts and opened HeeBeeGeeBeez 24 years ago. But it wasn’t an immediate success. “When the store started, the focus was used vintage clothing, records and underground comics. I found out that attacking a niche and trying to fill a need where there isn’t much demand kept me poor for a long time,” he explains.

But when, 13 years ago, his wife Rachael Pust entered the frame, the business slowly started carrying more mainstream product in conjunction with their obscure options. “She convinced us to add some Marvel and DC as well as the obscure underground stuff,” remembers John. The couple opened a location in Layton, which now houses their cafe—an expansion neither saw coming. “I came to John and said, ‘how would you feel about expanding our portfolio?’” recalls Rachael. “Now, we have a coffee business that we never anticipated. But it’s exciting because this will be great for the guy who wants to buy a sandwich, a book and a drink and sit down for a while.”

Now HeeBeeGeeBeez has four locations—John and Rachael added a Logan spot six years ago and their shop in Sandy marked its fifth anniversary this year. All four locations have a different feel to them, but all bank on the wild and enduring popularity of the card game Magic: The Gathering. The stores host tournaments and late night game play for everyone from beginners to aficionados.

Even if you’re a complete gaming newb, John and Rachael want you to take the chance and walk into their stores. “We’ve always combated being elitist or exclusionary. We’ve actively promoted all of our team to engage personally and to recommend authentically the things that we like,” says John. Both want others to know that owning a business isn’t one size fits all. “Not everyone is meant to work in a cubicle, and you don’t have to.” multiple locations,

Geeks. All of Us. Geeks. 

Ashley Szanter
Ashley Szanter
Ashley Szanter is a contributing writer for Salt Lake magazine as well as a freelance writer and editor. She loves writing about everything Utah, but has a special interest in Northern Utah (here's looking at you, Ogden and Logan).

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