Lust is an irrational emotion. It can force us to do silly things and create desires that take hold in the forefront of your mind and simply will not abate, no matter how hard you try. Such was the case when I found out about Geek Chic tables at PAX East in late March of 2010. It was one of the first times I was blown away by a piece of furniture.
To be honest, first I scoffed at the idea of an expensive table that was purpose-built for tabletop gaming. Certainly, my dining table was more than capable of providing the real estate needed for any game. But there I was, at PAX East, walking the floor of the show and had momentarily stopped in the aisle to take in the Geek Chic booth. It was filled with tables of differing sizes (and lots of curious onlookers).
At first glance, the tables were like others you might find in dining rooms and kitchens in apartments and homes everywhere. But there were some distinct differences: hidden along the rails there were drawers that opened to hold miniatures, dice, and more; mounted on the side were dice towers for casting fates; there were cup holders and DM screens, and a lot more. But the most unique feature was hidden beneath the table’s top. Beneath a series of removable leaves, games could be played on a sunken layer. This “vault floor” could hide an ongoing D&D campaign, a 1,500 piece puzzle in progress, or any number of board games while dinner took place above.
I walked on, shaking my head a bit. But, that night in my hotel room, I thought a lot about these tables that contained hidden battlegrounds. I returned to the booth the next day and gave them a good look. The construction was sturdy and the joints were tight. The leaves fit in a way that spoke to quality. I thought they were really nice, but I already had a table. So I went home and for the next few months, we played our D&D campaign and weekly board games on the dining room table.
Invariably, there would come a time when dinner would be ready before game time would end and we would have to carefully transfer an in-progress game to the floor. I started convincing myself that the current table was kind of old and I could probably justify an upgrade. I began noticing nicks in the wood that I’d never noticed before. I even considered building my own based on the Geek Chic design. But I’d never tackled a woodworking project that complex and realized it was probably beyond my abilities.
A decision is made
It was with these thoughts in mind that I made a beeline for the Geek Chic booth at PAX Prime in Seattle a few months later. This trip involved some pointed questions about how the tables were constructed, options, and – most importantly – price. I should make it clear that this furniture is, without doubt, a luxury. But it’s a luxury that also fulfills a necessity.
Geek Chic began making tables in 2008 in Everett, Washington, a healthy sized port city just north of Seattle. With one table, the Sultan, and a few employees, they have grown to more than two dozen hardcore geeks dedicated to making great furniture for geek culture. They’ve expanded their workspace twice, their product line has grown to nine tables, plus a bunch of smaller accessories, chairs, and storage, and they show little signs of slowing down. (They even have their own Kickstarter campaign going on right now.)
It’s the kind of company that you want to support. And, after that PAX Prime, I decided that one day I would. A couple of years have passed since then. The table fund has steadily grown and a month ago, I finally pulled the trigger and began my journey to bringing home a Geek Chic table by going online to make a deposit.
Despite the fact that Geek Chic offers some tables that price out similarly to small automobiles, I’ve known for some time which table I would pick out. I wanted an Emissary, a table that offered everything Geek Chic was about, but was unassuming and not flashy. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the table would cost with the options I wanted, so I filled out the PayPal form, clicked OK, sat back, and waited.
A couple of days later, I got an email from Brenda, one of Geek Chic’s “Enablers” who helped me make some decisions about options. The email contained about a dozen questions about my family, what types of games we played, contact information, and some initial decisions about wood types and accessories. I answered the questions and sent the email back to Brenda.
I heard back with an email that contained a 9 page .pdf that showed nearly every available option for the Emissary table and a formal order form that priced all of the options. To be honest, this was information I would have liked to have when I was saving toward the table. I felt a little like walking into a car dealership and finding out I had dozens more options to choose from. The Web is perfectly suited to this form of information sharing and configuring, I’m not sure why this information isn’t shared online.
It took me a couple of days of circling options I deemed “must-have” and scratching out those that fell under a “would-be-nice” category. I added up the costs, scratched some others off, added others on, before doing it all over again and finally sent Brenda an email back with my desired configuration. I spent a lot more than I anticipated but I thought of this process as if I was buying a tool — I wanted to buy the right one the first time.
In the final configuration, I opted out of cup holders, dice cups, and accessories that could be added down the road. Instead I chose to add drawers and a couple of other choices that I wouldn’t be able to add later. Brenda sent me a copy of my order and advised me that Ruth, the Shop Liaison, would be contacting me soon because there was an opportunity to get in the manufacturing queue early.
One afternoon, Ruth spent nearly 30 minutes on the phone with me, going over details, finalizing my order, and answering questions. (I asked a lot of questions, which I think was a good decision because I now know the table I get will be exactly what I want.) Ruth wanted to make sure I was ready to move forward at this time because you must pay your full balance before they begin work on your table. If you’re not ready, they’ll place your order “in carbonite” until you are all set.
All in all, the process was pretty painless. Both Brenda and Ruth were lovely, freindly, and very helpful. Now all I have to do is wait. In a short five to six months, Geek Chic’s own delivery team will be driving my way with my table. Anyone up for a game of Ticket to Ride? Or Power Grid? Or 7 Wonders or Wrath of Ashardalon or …