Passing cards back and forth on the playground of Don Christian Elementary in 2005, Brandon Chreptyk and Jake Yaciw couldn’t have known what they were getting themselves into.
In those early days, Chreptyk and Yaciw were interested in playing Magic: The Gathering, a competitive card game that pits one player’s deck against the other. Each deck is made up of creature cards, which attack the opponent’s deck; spell cards, which change the abilities of the creature cards; andland cards, which give the player the ability to use the spell and creature cards. Players can create individualized sets, with cards costing anywhere from a few cents to thousands of dollars, and develop tactics to take down their opponent.
It’s a game Chreptyk calls “cardboard crack.” It hooked him when Yaciw introduced it to him 13 years ago. Now, the pair sell cards full-time from their store in Abbotsford, and are about to open a second location in their hometown: Cloverdale.
“We have enough cards to fill two stores easily,” Chreptyk said.
“Which is kind of how the first store starts,” Yaciw added. “We had so much product we had to either give up or start a store.”
House of Cards, Chreptyk and Yaciw’s Abbotsford store, started four years ago after the pair had spent many years backpack trading at Magic: The Gathering tournaments. They sold Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon cards to start, but soon expanded to Yu-Gi-Oh cards, Warhammer figurines, Dungeons and Dragons merchandise and board games.
“The end goal was to come to Cloverdale, but we just didn’t think we could do it because there was too much competition in this area,” Chreptyk explained. Nearby Langley has a number of game stores, including Pastime Sports and Games and GameStars, while White Rock is home to Grey Haven Hobbies and Games.
Now, they have the experience they think they need to make House of Cards thrive in a more competitive market.
When Chreptyk and Yaciw first started, they didn’t have much knowledge of business. Chreptyk had two years of a business degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University under his belt before he dropped out to open House of Cards, and Yaciw has part of a criminology degree.
Learning the ropes of business ownership had its challenges, but it was overshadowed by their love of the game and the community.
“It’s a true addiction,” Chreptyk said.
In 2013, Chreptyk attended six different Magic: The Gathering tournaments around North America. He would write out lists of cards to use in particular decks during his business classes. When Chreptyk went on vacation to Hawaii, he immediately looked for a card store to visit. Yaciw did the same thing on his trip to Italy. Many of their friends play the card game, and they’ve made many more through their store.
“It’s half business, half … clubhouse really,” Yaciw said about House of Cards. “There will be people who will be there all day and not spend a cent, and that’s perfect. We don’t mind at all.
“It’s there to be a community hub as well as a business.”
After the Cloverdale House of Cards’ opening in early February, the pair plan to host a number of events, including mini-tournaments using advance copies of new Magic: The Gathering card sets and a weekly Magic tournament. The goal is to have at least one major event each day.
“All of the things we do in the Abbotsford store we’re going to try to do here,” Chreptyk said.
“If anything, we’re going to be focusing more on younger kids here” with the Pokemon cards and board games,” Yaciw added. “There’s a lot more families and children than in Abbotsford.”
Their new location (#101 5660 176a Street) will be run primarily by Yaciw, who still lives in Cloverdale. Chreptyk will continue to spend much of his time at the Abbotsford location. They currently have a few employees at their Abbotsford store, and hope to hire someone for Cloverdale in short order.
“It’ll be a snowball effect,” Chreptyk said. “We’ll start slow and work our way up.”