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Ashland store sells favorite games, old and new

Your second childhood is waiting at Funagain Games in Ashland.

Three Ashland friends who love board games have opened a store featuringwell-known, classic games, little-known, long-forgotten games, and new gamesfrom around the world.

Familiar favorites such as Clue, Monopoly, and Life share shelf spacewith obscure, out-of-print titles such as Archie Bunker's Card Game andnew offerings such as Settlers, where players carve out a living on a desertisland.

Our role is to get people to remember how much fun they had playinggames, said Tami Marston, one of the three gamesters at Funagain.Marston, Rick Soued and Peter Spring opened the store in May after yearsof daydreaming about having a game store.

The trio used to talk about selling games when they met with other friendsto play board games in Soued's basement. Their pipe dream became a realityafter they met Todd Garfinkel, who was selling used board games in Keizer,near Salem. Garfinkel had made arrangements with secondhand stores to acquirethe games people brought in, and resell them for less than brand-new games.

Todd had a great idea in recycled board games, but he wasn't ina place where he could carry it out, said Soued (pronounced soo-ed),a real estate investor who retired to Ashland. Soued bought a half-interestin Garfinkel's enterprise, and the friends opened a retail store next tothe Ashland Street Cinema, in the Ashland Shopping Center.

The recycled games and out-of-print titles set the store apart from othergame stores, said Spring, a musician and writer in his spare time.

Eighty percent of what we have in stock is recycled board games,he said. The balance is games we think are the best new games in theworld.

The store stocks more than 1,000 different games, with used versionsof popular titles priced substantially below new retail prices. A Monopolyset, for example, which retails new for $12 to $24, costs just $8. Rareand unusual games reflect growing interest in board games as collectibles.A 1962 copy of Chet Huntley's NBC News Game recently sold for $30. A 1964copy of Jeopardy goes for $18.

This is the only place in the world you can get some of these games,said Marston, who also works as a singer and actress. Every recycled gamecomes with a guarantee that all parts and rules are included.

Soued said the store's location draws in people who have a few minutesto kill before a movie. He said parents often bring in their children tolook at games, but it's the parents, not the kids, who go nutswhen they see old favorites.

Marston said the store's collection of old games surprises browsers.My favorite thing is when people come in and say `You probably neverheard of this game,' and we can give them the choice of several editionsof it.

Spring said one of the most entertaining aspects of running the storeis watching browsers rediscover the games they played as children.

This burly college wrestler went right back to being a four-year-oldwhen he saw a copy of Enchanted Forest, Spring said. His machofacade was immediately stripped away.

As avid game-players themselves, the partners bring their customers abroad knowledge of games. Spring said he knew just the right game to suggestwhen a family came in looking for a game they could play in their tent,with a flashlight, while it rained outside.

Sharpshooters, he explained. It's a dice game, witha plastic board, and 35 dice. It's about as waterproof as a board game gets.It plays fast and easy, but there's enough going on to keep people occupied.

Marston said board games have lost some of their popularity in the ageof video and computer games, but they teach children and adults valuableskills they don't pick up in front of a video screen.

Almost all games are about problem solving, and those are skillswe can all use.

Rick Soued, left, Tami Marston and Peter Spring roll the dice in a game called 'Shooters' in their used game shop in Ashland. All three have been playing games together for many years. - Photo by Andy Atkinson</P