PERSON OF INTEREST: KATHLEEN DONAHUE, LABYRINTH GAMES & PUZZLES

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Kathleen Donahue, Owner of Labyrinth Games and Puzzles

In a world that seems constantly distracted by new technologies, gadgets, and gizmos, it is easy to forget how useful and enjoyable the simplicities of life can be, especially in the form of a game or puzzle. When I was younger, which is not too long ago, my siblings and I loved having board game nights because it was the one time of the week everybody could come together, face-to-face, and genuinely connect without a tweet, BuzzFeed video or Snapchat filter taking away from our attention.  Now, just because we were playing a “friendly game” of Battleship, Connect Four or Shout!, did not mean I was a brutal champion over my inferior sister and brothers, but it did help us foster stronger relationships.

Just last week, URBANSCRAWL DC had the opportunity to discuss the importance of relationships, connection and cognitive thinking with the owner of Labyrinth Puzzles and Games, Kathleen Donahue.

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Q: Where are you from, and how did you get here?

A: “I was raised in Pensacola, FL. I moved here from Miami with my husband who had gotten a job at Fannie Mae.”

Q: What inspired you to create Labyrinth Games?

A: I wanted a new job, and I was angry that I couldn’t find games. The store was inspired by a hobby shop that I loved as a child called Koby’s Corner.

Q: Your shop is known to do a lot of community outreach/events–what is the message you are trying to present to D.C.?

A:

“I love giving back to my community, and I think it is important for people to have face-to-face relationships. I think it’s important for people to have fun and play together no matter their age. I also really love the concept of learning through games.”

Important Skills Developed:

  • Strategy and logic
  • Problem solving
  • Social interaction
  • Memory and concentration
  • Deduction and analysis
  • Math and language abilities
  • Dexterity

Check here to see if you know any of their partnering schools!

Q: What are some of the highs and lows of working in a game shop?

A: The highs are definitely the customers. I love our customers. Seeing people laugh and have fun because of our games is the best. The lows, I guess, are just the amount of work involved in running the store and scheduling all of our events. It’s a lot of work. But at least it is super fun work. Paying our outrageously high rent also stinks.

Q: If you could describe your shop in one word, what would be, and why?

A: Community – because we build community and we give back to the community. We bring a lot of people together.

Kathleen is a true believer in relationship building and fellowship, and through over 3,000 different games being offered at her store, she helps stimulate that sense of community every day. Kathleen and her time execute this commitment to the community by offering a unique aftercare enrichment program for kids. This program is called “Labyrinth Game Club” and focuses on teaching kids social and cognitive skills through the best in non-electronic games, which are often lost in contemporary video games.

“The program fosters communication skills, analytical processing, and creativity through the element of designing original games.”

Q: What games are the most popular in the shop? Which one is your favorite?

A: Magic: The Gathering, a collectible card game and is our best seller.

Image result for magic the gathering

And just in case you do not know how popular this game actually is, take a look at this:

Image result for magic the gathering tournament

(Answer continued): “As for board games, our best sellers are Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, 7 Wonders, Carcassonne, etc. My favorite so far this year is Karmaka. I also really loved Scythe which is a heavier, territory-control game. My favorite of all time is Arboretum, an evil game about trees*, but it is currently out of print”.

*No, not those kinds of trees. This kind:

Image result for arboretum game
photo by Jesse Whitworth (geekadelphia.com)
Image result for arboretum game
photo by Dan Cassar
(maltezefalkon)

Oh, and just in case you are one of those Magic: Gathering fanatics looking for specific gaming cards–Labyrinth sells singles! Just stop into the shop see what they have in stock.

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Q: What are some upcoming events people can look out for?

A: “This [past] Saturday [was] Tabletop Day, which is a huge international gaming celebration. Then on May 7th, we’ll be having a super fun Star Wars themed day with crafts for kids and game demos for adults. We’ll be having our annual charity Used Game Sale toward the end of July, and we are hosting a large gaming convention, WashingCon, in Georgetown on September 9th and 10th.”

By the way, on that same day, May 7th at 6 pm, they will be hosting their bi-weekly “Boozy Board Game Night” for anyone 21+!

Q: What do you think is your spirit animal?

A: 33% Panda, 33% Camel, 33% Dragon, 1% Penguin

Q: Are you Team Pancakes or Waffles?

A: “Vegan pancakes”

Image result for leslie knope waffles gif

Whether you are an experienced gamer or entertaining curiosity,  Labyrinth is always looking to expand their family and encourages all to come visit. If you are a teacher, parent, or PTA volunteer and would like more information on getting Labyrinth Games & Puzzles involved in your school, please don’t hesitate to send them an email or call 202-544-1059.

This shop has over 3,000 selections and the collection is only growing. Whether you are looking for something simple or toddler-friendly to something even more complex, there is something for you in the shop. Even if you are not looking to buy something, you can just stop in and play! Check out the May calendar, here.

Stay connected, stay a community.

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