Local business spotlight: Game On and Tolgard Games

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Tolgard Games and Game On is a new store in Sylva that specializes in table-top games and video games. The store is bursting with any game imaginable whether it be card, board or video game. The shelves are lined with intricate and unique items. On the other side of the store are huge television screens for gaming, nice seating areas and tables made for table-top games. This store is new and exciting, but its history is rich and caring.

This store is formed by two businesses in one location. It started as a joint venture by two separate companies to create an environment that is meant to empower one another instead of encouraging strict competition. Both owners, Chris Orellana and Mark Ellersick, have a long history of business and entertainment. Orellana hosted weekly dinners that built up a music scene in Asheville while Mark Ellersick hosted game nights every Friday for 12 years. It seemed that entertainment and community were in their blood.

Last year, Orellana opened up Game On in Sylva on Oct. 1. His intention on building a fun business started with his twelve-year-old son. Orellana noticed a lack of both safe and fun environments for youth in the area and he decided to create a video-game based store.

Mark Ellersick and his wife and business partner Melissa Ellersick decided that they were ready to take the plunge into owning their very own board game store. His passion for gaming led him to create a store that could bring people together.

“I wanted to better facilitate people’s connections to the games,” said Mark Ellersick.

For him, the retail side was less important than introducing people to the hobby. Mark Ellersick wanted to be part of a community through gaming. This was part of the reason why Orellana wanted to pair up with him.

One fateful afternoon, a customer came into Game On and told Orellana all about Mark Ellersick’s grand ideas for a shop. It was from that day on that they created a store focused on community and fun that opened in May 2017.

What makes this game store so wonderfully unique is that it is based on a business model that is centered around inclusion.

“Almost all socially oriented businesses have unintended exclusion but this is an incredibly inclusive spot,” said Orellana.

Melissa Ellersick works hard to make the area inclusive for everyone as she knows what it feels like as a female business owner, especially one in the gaming industry where it is even less common.

Part of what makes this store inclusive is the push for players of all ages. Aside from gaming, there are also toys for children along with changing tables in the bathroom.

Part of this inclusion comes from the Education Incentive program Orellana has put in place. The Education Incentive program allows kids to have rewards for their hard work in school. A student can do homework in the store and earn hours to play video games as well as earn other rewards and prizes like discounts on store merchandise. Students that push their grades up by a full letter grade are rewarded a large number of hours to play video games in the store.

This program is an incentive to do well in school. As Orellana was once a community supporter of children with autism, this program is available to all kids with any needs. Game On and Tolgard Games serves to be a friendly atmosphere for all people of all ages.

While the business is still growing and expanding, their focus is always on customer service. The strive for happy customers.
“Customers can come in, build a deck, play a video game and be comfortable. That’s a victory for us.” Orellana said.

Outside of gaming, the store offers console repairs, private parties, toys and comic books. Many clubs are involved with the store and students who want to be involved can simply walk in and get started.

The store is located at 334 East Main Street in Sylva. The stores hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Visit www.tolgardgames.com, www.gameonsylva.com and 828-508-0996 for information.