Trish Borel has been playing video games since Atari came out 40 years ago.
When Cody was about 3 years old, he loved to watch her play video games. And by the time he was 5, he was beating her, and he “hasn’t looked back since,” she said.
When Jesse was 5, he wanted to learn how to play the popular card game Yu-Gi-Oh. She had to read him the cards, which he memorized, and Cody quickly picked up on the game as well. “That’s how we got into cards,” she said.
About five years ago Mrs. Borel opened The Castle in Tyler, an “atypical hobby store” full of all of Mrs. Borel’s and her sons’ favorite things, she said.
Cody, a junior at The University of Texas at Tyler, and Jesse, a sophomore at Robert E. Lee High School, help her out with the store when they aren’t in school. Also helping is her husband of 28 years, Barry. A Marine Corps veteran, Borel is a health care professional, she said.
When the family moved to Tyler from Pflugerville seven years ago, Mrs. Borel started hosting Yu-Gi-Oh and Naruto card game tournaments at Hastings on Saturdays and quickly outgrew the allotted space, with gamers sitting on the floor.
They moved across the street to the McDonald’s on South Broadway Avenue, holding Thursday night tournaments which worked well in the summer but not during the school year.
Mrs. Borel knew it was decision time — either stop holding the tournaments or open up her own place. When opening her hobby store, she knew card games would not be enough. She and her sons looked at all of their favorite games they liked to play together and added video games and anime’ to the selection.
The Castle buys some used merchandise and Mrs. Borel said customers can trade in items for store credit.
When The Castle opened in October 2007, it was in a 1,000-square-foot space on Troup Highway. She said she opened “right smack dab into the recession.” She and her husband worked hard to keep the business open during the recession, she said. “We were very blessed to stay alive.”
Two years ago, The Castle moved into a 3,000-square-foot space in the Tyler One Shopping Center, across from Trane. She said the bigger location can comfortably accommodate many more people.
“This year has been a very good turnaround year for us,” she said.
The gaming area takes up half of the store and offers a place where customers can hang out and play board, card or video games. She also hosts tournaments on the weekends and pre-release parties for new products. Once a month, she has a movie night. Mrs. Borel is planning her annual Christmas party and next movie night for Dec. 22; an anime’ Black Butler Tea Party for Jan. 5; and a pre-release weekend Jan. 26-27 for Magic The Gathering Gatecrash.
She said The Castle serves all age groups – from 8 to 80 years old.
“My store is a fun, safe clean place for folks of all ages, especially those who love anime’, Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, video games and fantasy sword,” Mrs. Borel said.