Almost every career is full of twists and turns, rarely following a linear path from start to finish.
That certainly proved the case for Richard Foulston, who having studied Chemistry with Molecular Physics at university and then a PhD in Nanoscience, decided to follow a passion by opening his own game shop in November 2021.
From here, Black Dragon Games in Melton Mowbray was born, and The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity is delighted to have played a part along the way.
“It was quite a random next step really!” Richard began, when asked about his venture into gaming.
“I love games and have always played them, either on the computer or board games. The way it all came about was during lockdown – I was selling some Warhammer bits online and I really enjoyed the customer service side of it, so I wanted to get an official licence and do more.”
“Then, I realised that we needed a store. So, we thought if we’re going to have a bricks and mortar store, then we’re going to do it properly with gaming tables and create a real community project, rather than just a shop. The local customers are now the lifeblood of the business, so we’ve been having a great time with them.”
Based in Melton, Black Dragon Games combines a board game shop with a local gaming hub where customers can come to join in with a wide range of table-top gaming activities in a fun and welcoming setting. The shop has proven to be a huge hit so far, and in October won the ‘After Dark Award’ in the Best of Melton Awards 2022.
“The product range includes wargaming, Dungeons & Dragons’ products, lots of board games and trading card games – specifically Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon,” Richard explained.
“We run various events throughout the week. Thursdays and Saturdays are Dungeons & Dragons’ nights, Tuesday evening is a late opening for board games and Friday evening is Magic: The Gathering night. And on Saturday mornings, we have Pokémon club.”
Having opened Black Dragon Games in November 2021 with support from other funding opportunities, The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity was recommended to Richard, which led to an application for a £20,000 interest-free business loan.
“In January 2022 we got the money from STWLC and it allowed us to do an extensive expansion of our stock range,” Richard added.
“Basically, we ordered £20,000 worth of stock! We’ve since expanded again by a similar amount using profits. It meant we could get a lot in, and that’s paid off. People travel a fair distance to us now and say we have a much better range of products than stores in the city centre. We wouldn’t have been able to do that without STWLC’s loan – it was really important for us.”
“The paperwork was straight forward,” Richard continued when asked about the application process with STWLC.
“I didn’t feel like they were making us jump through any hoops. Sometimes when applying for financial support it can be a case where the goalposts seem to change, which is frustrating, but the process with STWLC was absolutely fine. It was the easiest application process we’ve been through for a loan.”
“There are obviously questions along the way and you have to know your numbers, but the process is good and works well. Sarah Hope (Clerk to the Trustees at STWLC) was really good at keeping everyone informed. She would say when things had been received, when we’d get it back – and you felt like you always knew what was going on. I think the Charity has done an amazing job and they make it really accessible.”
“Things are looking good for us. We’ve smashed our targets by some distance so far, so we’re hopeful things will continue that way.”
For more information on Black Dragon Games, visit www.blackdragongames.co.uk or visit their shop: Black Dragon Games, 17 Burton Street, Melton Mowbray, LE13 1AE, UK.
To find out more about The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s interest-free business loans, which are available up to the value of £20,000, interest free for nine years, please click here