OWOSSO — The owners of The Game Store, 221 N. Washington St., have announced they are purchasing Funny Pages Hobbies and Games, which is located just one block to the south, at 113 N. Washington.
The Game Store will move into the much-larger Funny Pages space, probably by the end of August. The new store will keep the first part of the name, “Funny Pages,” but change the second part at some point, Game Store co-owner Damian Meszko said.
The acquisition was triggered by Funny Pages owner Arvid H. Warstler’s decision to retire after 33 years in the hobby store business.
“Arvid has a great legacy, and we don’t want to see Funny Pages leave the community. It’s still going strong,” Meszko said. “We’re going to pick up some of the things he services the area with. For example, he sells comic books and we’re going to sell those.”
Warstler has operated successful hobby shops in six different locations over the years, starting out in Chesaning before moving to Owosso. He opened the store on Washington 16 years ago.
He noted he’s about to turn 80.
“I want to retire,” he said simply. “I have been blessed all my life with great health, and I can do whatever I want. This is a great time for me to get my freedom back.”
Warstler owns the building Funny Pages occupies, and he will lease the space to The Game Store owners, Meszko, Tyler Boonstra and Chad Erway. Warstler and his wife, Shari Warstler, will continue to reside in the apartment above the store, he said.
Meszko, Boonstra and Erway also own Games Sanctuary, 4290 Miller Road in Flint Township.
Meszko said the Funny Pages site, which is roughly three times the size of The Game Store, will enable the business to host larger gaming tournaments. The Game Store’s distinctive orange and blue logo will survive the move and name change, he said.
Another thing that won’t change after the move is the old Game Store inventory, which will continue to include such games as Magic: The Gathering, Scythe, Elder Sign, King Tokyo, Pandemic, Catan, Warhammer and Kill Team. The new store will also continue to offer game cards, dice, books and other gaming equipment and accessories.
Warstler said he believes The Game Store’s expertise in gaming will help the new, combined business succeed.
“I’m not a gamer. I’ve struggled with the gaming thing,” said Warstler, whose favorite hobby is model railroads. “This is (the three partners’) life, gaming. They’ll do it right, and they’ll do it big. I like them. We’re on the same page.”
Currently, Warstler is selling all the inventory in the old Funny Pages except for the gaming- and comic-related items, which have been sold to The Game Store. Customers are wearing out a path into Funny Pages these days, taking advantage of deep discounts.
For now, Funny Pages is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
“Our goal is to be out of here by the third week of August,” Warstler said.
The “new” Funny Pages will maintain longer hours, though they have not yet been set, Meszko said.
Meszko, who lives in Flint, said that before opening The Game Store last September, he and partners drove around different communities, including Durand, Corunna and Lapeer. Then they came to Owosso.
“We were walking through this town after 6 p.m., when most businesses were closed, and we saw three large groups of gamers playing inside the few businesses that were still open,” Meszko said. “We realized that gaming is thriving out here and they didn’t have a place for it.”
Meszko said he believes the new Funny Pages will help him and his partners deliver even more of the types of services that are in demand in the Owosso area and beyond.
“We’re very excited and nervous,” he said. “Mom and Pop hobby stores are closing across America. You never know what’s going to happen.”
He praised Warstler for Funny Pages staying successful despite the trendiness of the hobby industry.
“I know, being in this industry, that it’s not easy to do,” Meszko said. “For Arvid to have done it so long, it’s very rare. And for him to be as happy and graceful as he is, he has a good heart.”
Warstler said he plans to enjoy his retirement years by exploring downtown Owosso and other parts of Shiawassee County in ways he didn’t have time to do as a business owner.
What will Warstler miss most about operating a hobby store?
“The people,” he said. “When people come in, it might be a neighbor I haven’t seen in 30 years.”
What will he miss least?
“The people,” Warstler said with a laugh. “The ones that make your life miserable.”