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Dewey Street's District Co. in transition and on the rise

Posted March 21st, 2014

When people walk into The District Co., they're greeted, they hear music, and they see a lot of people socializing. The hang-out is decorated with unique flavors of soda bottles for customers to try, which the venue has always been known for.

Originally opening as a café last year, The District Co. made a transition into an all-age gaming venue. Located at 224 N. Dewey Street, the downtown venue offers more than a standard gaming shop.  Being directed at an all-age audience, the hang-out has a wide selection of options. 

People can enjoy a variety of games, such as Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and Xbox, old school Pac-man games or card games at no cost. PC gaming, known as the network, costs some money, but is affordable and they are some of the best PCs in town, according to Tim Sexton, owner of The District Co. The venue also hosts tournaments for popular card games such as Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon and Yu-GI-Oh!

Sexton said they opened with the idea that "change would be a constant," meaning they allow the community to decide what they are. That's how the business transitioned from the coffee shop theme and became a gaming venue. Sexton listens to what his customers say and gather suggestions off the shop's Facebook page in order to decide what to feature.

Sexton said there was not enough activities in Eau Claire for all ages to enjoy at the same time, and an alternative to the bar scene was also needed.  Plus, with 70 to 80 percent of the population involved in some type of gaming, it was easy to come up with this idea for their business.

 "That's one thing we're trying to promote; where people can come in, meet new people, interact and just have a great time," said Sexton. "It's so exciting for me as an owner in Eau Claire, to be able to get people into a business and see the amount of people having fun."

Sexton works hard to promote social interaction in his business, which is why he makes sure to include something for everyone to do.

"I like the environment; I think that's what is so powerful about this place," said Shawn Alt, a regular at The District Co.  Alt said it's the different people he meets that contribute to the feeling of the place.

"The environment here is way different compared to other gaming stores," said Aaron Frey, who works at The District Co., "We promote play, along with meeting new people." Frey said often he sees people come in and play games with someone they just met.

Photo by: Dean L. Bauman