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Games of Berkeley and COVID-19

14 Feb 2020
by Erik Bigglestone

Regarding our store's response to COVID-19, including events:

2/15/2022 UPDATE

As of tomorrow, Tuesday Feb. 16, fully vaccinated folks here in Berkeley and much of the rest of California will no longer be required to wear protective masks in most indoor settings. However, individual organizations are allowed to keep their own stricter precautions in place if they wish. So out of an abundance of concern for the members of our community who remain especially vulnerable to COVID-19, Games of Berkeley will be one of the businesses keeping our mask requirement in place.

What does this mean for GoB's visitors and staff? Functionally, nothing has changed:

  • Anyone two years or older will wear a protective mask that covers their mouth and nose while on our premises, and those attending events or using our game library will provide proof of vaccination upon arrival.
  • If someone forgets to bring a mask, we have a stock of disposables available upon request.
  • If someone's mask slips down below their nose, we politely remind them to reposition it.
  • Those unable or unwilling to correctly wear a protective mask can shop with us here on our website, where nearly everything in the physical store is available to purchase for shipping or low-contact pickup.

Everyone at Games of Berkeley is looking forward to a day that we will no longer require protective masks in our store, not just because of foggy glasses and mild ear discomfort: for 20 months our staff members have regularly been at the receiving end of anger, belligerence, and threats of physical violence over the issue. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health, the Alameda County Public Health Department, and the City of Berkeley Public Health Division all say that protective masks are still a vital part of curtailing the spread of COVID-19, so we've chosen to keep exercising caution.

We appreciate your continued patience, patronage, and support, and look forward to serving you for another 40+ years.


5/13/2021 UPDATE

If you're thinking that there's been a long break between updates to this page, you'd be right! As folks became used to our in-store safeguards and learning about them via our social media platforms -- as well as state and local guidelines that have remained largely unchanged since last July -- the occasional update here became less top-of-mind.

HOWEVER, given the CDC's announcement today that fully vaccinated people may go unmasked in most settings, it's important we notify our customers that for the time being, Games of Berkeley will still require anyone in our building (customers and employees alike) to wear a protective mask that covers both mouth and nose*. Food and drink may not be consumed in our public areas, we are still limiting the total number of people allowed in the store at any given time, and use of our conveniently placed hand sanitizer is required for entry. These are not just our own safeguards, but align with current state, county, and city guidelines as well.

As of this writing, we are not yet hosting events or taking cash for payment again, but we are actively planning for both. Keep an eye out for future updates about these coming soon, and thanks as always for your support!

* - Regarding children under 2 years of age: Based on CDC recommendations and our past experiences as a game and toy store, if a child appears to be physically developed enough (and allowed by their parents) to wander around the store and pick things up unaided, we do ask that the child be (a) masked, or (b) put in a stroller or held by the parents while on the premises. This is essentially because toddlers are especially skilled at sticking their fingers into their noses and mouths and then putting those same hands anywhere -- and onto anything -- that they can. While that's usually understandable and an accepted part of doing business, current conditions make it something over which to exercise caution.

7/6/2020 UPDATE

Games of Berkeley is reopening its doors THURSDAY, JULY 9TH -- with significant safeguards in place, of course. We're beyond grateful for your support and patience as we've prepared the safest shopping environment we can. The store may look a little different, but change is good, and this video explains some of the more important adjustments:

We've missed all of you, and look forward to having you back in the store as safely as possible. If you still prefer to shop online, whether for curbside pickup or shipping direct to your home, please feel free to do so here on our website.


6/18/2020 UPDATE

GAMES OF BERKELEY WILL NOT BE OPENING FOR IN-STORE SERVICE ON FRIDAY, JUNE 19. We are still preparing our 11,000 square foot space, and the health and safety of our employees and customers remains our top priority.

We expect to open to the public again within the next 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, our turnaround time for curbside pickup orders has been reduced from 4 to 2 hours, and another 1,000 or so items were added to the web store over the past week.

We will soon begin allowing add-on requests during curbside pickup, and will publish info about that early next week.

Thanks for your continued patience!


6/5/2020 UPDATE

A quick reminder of our Curbside Pickup hours: 11AM - 6PM, Thursday through Monday


As of yet, we have no update from the City of Berkeley about when we may be able to reopen the sales floor to customers. What we can say is that when that happens, our hours of operation will be more limited than during normal public health conditions. We will also require masks to be worn at all times, limit the number of people in the building at any given moment, and our event spaces and game library will be closed until further notice.

More specific info will be available once we reopen. Thanks for your patience!


5/27/2020 UPDATE

Good news -- we've quickly reduced the turnaround time for online orders!


Beginning Thursday 5/28 we only ask for 4 hours' notice before you pick up your order, instead of 24 hours. (Quick reminder: Curbside Pickup is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the time being.)


5/25/2020 UPDATE

The State of California sent word to counties earlier today that they may begin to allow all retail to open, following state health and safety guidelines.

We'll wait until the City of Berkeley lets us move forward, and then we'll proceed with the same care and caution with which we opened curbside service. Thanks for your understanding, and your patience.


5/21/2020 UPDATE

We're excited to finally offer curbside pickup to our very patient customers! All curbside pickup selections and payment must be made through our website, www.gamesofberkeley.com, at least 24 hours prior to pickup.

The pickup process is simple, and described in this video.

- Orders placed prior to May 16th may be picked up beginning on Friday, May 22nd.

- Orders placed on or after May 16th may be picked up beginning Saturday, May 23rd.

Pickup Hours: 11am - 6pm


Special Notes: For the protection of our employees and customers, you MUST wear a protective mask when picking up your order. We will not serve you if you are not wearing a mask. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. We also respectfully ask that you do not double-park when visiting our store.

We'll see you soon!


5/20/2020 UPDATE

SHIPPING of web orders began last Friday, in the order that they were placed.

CURBSIDE PICKUP for orders placed prior to Saturday May 16th will begin Friday May 22nd. Orders placed on or after Saturday May 16th may be picked up as of Saturday May 23rd. Please allow 24 hours for your order to be available once it is placed. Pickup times and instructions will soon be emailed to customers and posted online. Curbside pickup will be CLOSED on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.


5/18/2020 UPDATE

Curbside pickup? YES! When? SOON-ISH!

Web orders from existing inventory began shipping last Friday. Curbside pickup has now been authorized to begin as of Tuesday May 19th, and we anticipate having the proper safety procedures in place to allow that soon, possibly as early as Wednesday May 20th. WE ARE TAKING THE TIME TO DO THIS SAFELY, for both our customers and our employees. Thank you for your patience.

The specific language of today's joint announcement by the city and counties may be found at THIS LINK, including additional links to the state's guidelines for providing such service

Some products are still available for direct shipment from a variety of affiliated publishers and suppliers. A list of those may be found at:

We are still not allowed to restock our existing inventory as it sells, or receive new inventory. Any pending shipments to Games of Berkeley should be held in place until further notice, or rerouted to alternate addresses on a case-by-case basis.


5/15/2020 UPDATE

Nigel has his own protective mask, and we're starting to get orders out the door! Info about shipping, potential home delivery, the likelihood of curbside, status of funding, my AMA, Berkeley Relief Fund, and our new CafePress site that is frankly completely overstuffed with apparel and merchandise items you can purchase and wear or drink from!

City Updates - https://www.cityofberkeley.info/coronavirus/

Our Important Links - https://www.gamesofberkeley.com/blogs/services/important-links/

Berkeley Relief Fund - https://www.berkeleyrelieffund.org

Anniversary & other merch - https://www.cafepress.com/gamesofberkeley

And we're adding more items to our webstore all the time! https://www.gamesofberkeley.com/collection/


5/4/2020 UPDATE

For those who haven't heard, Governor Gavin Newsom announced today that some California retailers -- including stores like Games of Berkeley -- may be able to begin curbside service as early as this coming Friday. State guidance for how to accomplish this safely should be published by this Thursday.

To be clear about GoB's position on this:

Since the beginning of shelter-in-place, when the state and local orders have differed, we have erred on the side of the most cautious of these restrictions. In consideration for the safety of our customers, staff, and families, we will continue to do so.

The Bay Area's counties and the City of Berkeley do not currently allow curbside service for retailers like those the governor mentioned today, but we ARE hopeful, and planning for if they do announce amended guidelines to match. At that point, we will be more than happy to begin curbside service in as safe and responsible a manner as possible.


5/1/2020 UPDATE

In which the Evil Overlord's 'ums' and 'uhs' have returned, but not too badly. A number of things discussed, with links below.

4/28/2020 UPDATE

A BLOG ENTRY FROM THE EVIL OVERLORD about why we're not yet doing any curbside, delivery, or shipping from our own inventory.

4/17/2020 UPDATE

In which the Evil Overlord thanks our community, and speaks briefly about Things To Come. And don't forget about the Berkeley Relief Fund! (Because he forgot to mention it in the video.)


4/14/2020 UPDATE

DUST USA, Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty, and Squishable have all recently been added to the "Shipping Now" section of our webstore: https://www.gamesofberkeley.com/shipping-now/

4/6/2020 UPDATE

Here's a 6-minute update we posted yesterday. The links referred to in it are below the video.
Also, a quick reminder: WE CANNOT CURRENTLY SHIP, DELIVER, OR PROVIDE CURBSIDE PICKUP OF ANY STORE INVENTORY. Some products are available direct from our affiliate publishers. See that info in the update immediately below this one. Thanks for your patience and understanding!

3/30/2020 UPDATE (EDITED 4/3/2020)

Today the Bay Area counties extended their shelter-in-place orders to May 3, so that is our new target date to reopen. We will, of course, keep an eye on the situation and adapt as necessary. In the meantime, we're continuing to work on ways to help our community more easily weather this challenging time, by participating in initiatives such as Friday Night Magic at Home, Tuesday Paint Night livestream at our new Twitch channel (beginning tomorrow!), our Discord community, and other initiatives we're actively brainstorming.
Since we at GoB aren't yet allowed to ship or deliver orders yet, here's an updated list of publishers and manufacturers who are shipping, and have created affiliate programs where your purchases will benefit brick & mortar stores like ours:
    • Ad Astra - https://www.adastragames.com/ - If a customer lists a game store (and the game store's email address), we will PayPal 25% of the MSRP of the products they ordered from us to the game store they specify. We've also offered a discount for shipping games without boxes (BOXLESS2020).
    • Arcane Wonders - https://www.shop.arcanewonders.com - Retailers who refer their customers to our site should ask them to write in the name/city/state of their local game store in the comments section of the order during checkout. We will reach out to that store and send them 25% of the total purchase price.
    • Blue Orange Games - https://www.gamesofberkeley.com/shipping-now/ - Order from our website, and Blue Orange ships it to you!
    • Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty- https://www.gamesofberkeley.com/shipping-now/ - Order one or more of several bundles from our website, and Crazy Aaron's ships it to you!
    • Deep Water Games - https://www.deepwatergaming.com/ - Offering 25% reimbursement if customers leave a note with their LGS’s contact info.
    • Drawlab Entertainment - https://www.drawlab.com/ - Donating 20% of all orders to your FLGS. All you have to do is put their name in the notes section at check out. The more info you give of course the easier it will be for us to reach out to them.
    • DUST USA - https://www.gamesofberkeley.com/brands/dust-usa/ - Order from our website, and their fulfillment center in Georgia ships directly to you!
    • Fireside Games - https://firesidegames.com/ - Offering 25% off all products on their website. And if customers name your favorite local game store in the Order Notes section, they will send that store 25% of payment received. 
    • Fog of Love - https://www.fogoflove.com/ - Donating 20% of all orders to FLGS if a customer leaves store’s information in the notes section at check out.
    • Forbidden Games - https://www.forbidden.games - Donating 50% of their online consumer sales to FLGS when customers leave a comment mentioning their store name, city, and state.
    • Gate Keeper Games - https://www.gatekeepergaming.com/ - When customers buy online we donate to their FLGS of choice!We're donating 15% of our online sales to the FLGS of each customer's choice when customers leave a comment mentioning store name, city, and state.
    • Geek Grind Coffee - https://geekgrindcoffee.com/?p=r1kIuXtIL - A portion of any sales through that custom link go to GoB. Coffee, drinkware, and more!
    • Grand Gamers Guild - https://store.grandgamersguild.com/ - Grand Gamers Guild will donate 20% of our online sales to the FLGS noted in comments.
    • Greenbrier Games - https://greenbrier-games-inc.myshopify.com/ - Any purchases made on our website over the foreseeable future will also go to your favorite game shop if you list their website in the Company option on your address! As more lockdowns begin, we want to do what we can to help shops that can't safely open their doors right now. For now all our games are 25% off and then an additional 25% of sales will go to the retailer of your choice.
    • HABA - https://www.habausa.com - 10% off and free shipping with an order of $30 or more, with a portion of the sale going to GoB if you use this coupon code: LGVSFK8MX8
    • Hi Fructose - Art publisher that produced the gorgeous 2-person card-throwing game Vampires vs. Unicorns is offering 50% of your purchase of the game to Games of Berkeley! Available in a STANDARD version and as a special BUNDLE, enter the word "GOB" in the notes when you check out.
    • IELLO USA - https://iellousa.com/ - On the checkout screen, you’ll see a place to fill in the name of your local game store, as well as the city and state they are located in. To support our retail partners in this time of crisis we’re going to split the net profits of every sale with them.
    • Japanime Games - https://japanimegames.com/ - Offering 50% of their online sales of in-stock product if customers leave a note with their FLGS as well.
    • KTBG / Burnt Island Games - https://www.kidstablebg.com/ and www.burntislandgames.com - Starting April 1st, donating 20% of net funds raised from their stores to any FLGS that is named in the comments of customers’ web purchases.
    • Metallic Dice Games - https://metallicdicegames.com/ - Donating 50% of their online sales to FLGS when customers leave a comment mentioning store, city, and state name.
    • Pelgrane Press - https://site.pelgranepress.com/ - Get a slice of our online sales when your customers email their April 2020 Pelgrane webstore order number and your store name to [email protected], and we'll donate 20% of the sale amount to your store.
    • Portal Games US - https://portalgamesus.com/discount/BERKELEY - Use coupon code BERKELEY for 10% off the order.
    • PvP Geeks - https://shop.playskytear.com/en/ - Donating 50% of the order to a store mentioned in the order notes. Please help us reach out to the store by inserting phone number or email in the order notes.
    • R&R Games - https://www.rnrgames.com/ - Offering 30% off any product during this period of social distancing. Use coupon code stayNplayAtHome. Mention your favorite FLGS by emailing your order number to [email protected] and we will donate 25% of the sale amount to that store.
    • Sirius Dice - https://www.siriusdice.com/products - Retailers will receive 50% of any sale when the customer mentions store name during checkout.
    • Smirk & Dagger - https://www.smirkanddagger.com/ - We are starting by promoting our recently launched The Deadlies, with a 25% donation to the buyer's favorite FLGS. This will continue to our full line in the coming days.
    • Squamous Studios - http://www.feedtheshoggoth.com/product/feed-the-shoggoth-game/ - Type "GoB" in the Notes at checkout, and Games of Berkeley receives 50% of the game's sale price.
    • Squishable - https://www.gamesofberkeley.com/shipping-now/ - Order one or more massive-scale plush toys from our website, and Squishable ships it to you!
    • White Wizard Games - https://www.shop.whitewizardgames.com/ - White Wizard will share 25% of online sales that come from store referrals. We have reduced the price on individual games by 25% on our site, and we also have quite a few bundles with even bigger discounts. Your customers can buy from the White Wizard Games Store, we will ship their products to them, and you will get 25% of the sale price.

We are grateful to these producers, and more will be added as they are confirmed. Please support them even after the current crisis has passed. 


3/24/2020 UPDATE

As additional shelter-in-place orders take hold across the nation and around the globe, some of the publishers that have offered the assistance detailed in our prior update have had to shut down their own operations and discontinue their affiliate programs. We are thankful for their efforts, and hope that they remain safe and healthy while we all face this challenge.
As for GoB itself, this morning we had a crew board up our storefront. That's just one of the steps we're taking to safeguard our ability to operate again once the state allows us to do so. (And the ol' Evil Overlord doesn't enjoy push-your-luck games anyway.)
Visually? Well, we understand it's not a great look. But please rest assured that we're confident, we're optimistic, and we're actively working to ensure Games of Berkeley will continue for another 40 years.
Watch our social media outlets for additional, individual updates as time progresses!

3/22/2020 UPDATE

We don't have the words to express how grateful we are to everyone who has offered support, not just with orders or financial help, but also with words of caring and encouragement. Thank you!
Several publishers have also stepped forward with ways to get you products and help brick & mortar game stores hard hit by COVID-19 closures. We are extremely grateful to them, and hope that their product offerings may include games you can enjoy during this challenging period. A percentage of each online purchase from these affiliates is given to Games of Berkeley, under specific circumstances:
Geek Grind Coffee sends a portion of any sales through the following custom link to GoB. Coffee, drinkware, and more!
IELLO USA will ship King of Tokyo Dark directly to you, with a portion of the sale going to GoB if you give them our name and location.
HABA gives 10% off and free shipping with an order of $30 or more, with a portion of the sale going to GoB if you use this coupon code: LGVSFK8MX8
The following publishers also ask that you put our name and contact info ([email protected]) in the Comments or Notes as you check out your purchase.
Metallic Dice Games - https://metallicdicegames.com/
Thanks again!

3/19/2020 UPDATE

This evening the Governor of California announced shelter-in-place restrictions on the entire state, that will prevent us from doing any more business of any kind on our premises. Unfortunately, that means we will no longer be able to ship anything for the foreseeable future. We are returning our webstore to its status from Tuesday:


If you prefer not to purchase anything from us under these conditions, we absolutely understand. Those who did make purchases when we thought we'd be able to ship them will be offered refunds.

Thanks for your patience.


3/18/2020 UPDATE

The times, they are a-changin'! It turns out that the closure orders DO allow for us to ship items to customers, so:


This is the closest balance we could strike between keeping our employees safe and helping our community weather this with some entertainment. 


3/17/2020 UPDATE

Because the shelter-in-place order does not allow us to have employees in the store, we cannot ship anything until that order is lifted. For that reason we are leaving our webstore open for the time being, with the following disclaimer:


We understand this isn't especially convenient, but it's the closest we can come to normal operations in the current environment. We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops, and ship items earlier if possible.

We've also created a Games of Berkeley channel for Discord, and will publicize that shortly.

Hang in there, everyone!



3/16/2020 UPDATE

By order of Alameda County Health Services, in conjunction with all of the other counties in the San Francisco Bay Area:


This order is in effect for ALL "nonessential" businesses and government agencies in the area. We are sending our employees home, and store management is examining what our options are in the interim for things like outstanding orders and such. We will post updates here and on our social media as we have new information to share. Thank you for your patience, and be well.

Erik Bigglestone, Managing Owner


3/14/2020 UPDATE

Since our post this past Thursday, the Berkeley Public Health office has updated its suggested best practices for slowing the progression of COVID-19. Those now preclude gatherings where people spend extended time within 6 feet of each other. Realistically, that's essentially all of our events, and any use of our game library. Given that, and in the interest of aiding in "flattening the curve" for our community:


This decision has the potential to put a strain on our employees and owners, so we appreciate your support and grace as we navigate these rocky shoals.

The store itself will remain open, unless or until we are instructed to close. For the time being we will operate our regular business hours, but that may change as sales traffic dictates. We encourage you to pick up some games or activities to play at home for the next few weeks, or order from us online (including gift cards). We're also working on procedures for curbside pickups of purchases, so watch for an announcement about that soon.

Finally, we ask that you please patronize other small businesses if you're able and comfortable to do so, both here in the Telegraph District and wherever you live.

Thank you!



Over and above anything else, we want those who work and play at GoB to be as safe from harm as possible, and to feel that their concerns are both taken seriously and being addressed. Some of our employees, tournament organizers, dungeon masters, and customers have a higher risk of experiencing harsher effects of the virus than others, and we need to mitigate that as best we can. So ...

  • First off, we continue to take precautions we've already been taking, such as washing hands, disinfecting workstations, registers, phones, etc.
  • Our employees and event runners have been instructed to stay home if they feel sick, and we ask that customers do so as well.
  • For a yet-to-be determined period beginning immediately, any single event that is likely to call for 25 participants or more in a single room is postponed or canceled, including Board Game Expo, Puzzle Swap, Pokemon tournaments, and Tabletop Thursdays.
  • Days when it's likely we would see that many people gathered for multiple events in a single room will be evaluated individually.
  • Our event runners, including dungeon masters and tournament organizers, have been given leeway to cancel or postpone the events they operate, at their discretion.

We will remind those participating in events to wash hands regularly, and make hand sanitizer available to the extent we are able to keep it in stock.

These plans represent our response to the information currently available from a number of sources, and are subject to change moving forward. We appreciate everyone's patience and understanding as we weather this period of public caution together.

- Erik Bigglestone, Managing Owner

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