A tale of games, books and snacks

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Terence Johnson and Alyssa Strain of Turns and Tales showcase the wall of board games available at the unique downtown Chatham shop/cafe/gathering place/bookstore.

Turns and Tales is an excellent name for one of the newest businesses in downtown Chatham, but it doesn’t tell the full…tale.

The business, located on King Street West right beside Scotiabank, is part cafe, bookstore, board gamers’ haven, and general drop-in site.

Owners Chandra Clarke and Terence Johnson said they opted to invest in Chatham’s downtown because they believe in the community, and see a need.

“We want Chatham to be a thriving city. And that means you have to have a thriving downtown,” he said. “We are trying to increase the variety downtown.”

Variety, they say, is the spice of life. And Johnson and Clarke see several needs being filled with the new venture.

“What I kept hearing everywhere in Chatham was ‘We need more stuff in downtown Chatham.’ ‘We need more stuff for young people to do in downtown Chatham.’ ‘We’ve lost our bookstores; what are we going to do,” Johnson said.

Well, he and Clarke, former owners of Scribendi, answered those questions by opening Turns and Tales.

Johnson said their goal was to create a space where people can come and spend “two, three, four hours, relax, and be with friends.”

He added he and Clarke examined how board game cafes are faring in other communities and they liked what they saw.

“It really seemed to be a thing that is good for all ages,” he said.

The all ages element is in play at Turns and Tales.

“Kids can come in here after school. Seniors can come in here. Couples can come in here. Families can come in here. It’s designed to be a super inclusive place for the people of Chatham-Kent,” he said.

The two owners see a revitalization of Chatham’s core as something that can be done.

“If you look at what places like Stratford or Woodstock have done, it’s possible to have a really good, thriving downtown in a place this size. You just need the right mix of stuff, and have more events downtown,” Johnson said.

He looked to nearby shops and restaurants that offer unique items as part of the downtown diversity that is already in place.

“It’s not all the corporate stuff. It’s not the same stuff you’d see in any other city. It’s Chatham. It’s local and unique to us,” Johnson said.

To create a thriving core, Johnson said people living there are integral. He longs for more residents in the core, including more in Boardwalk on the Thames, and the student housing that is slated for the former YMCA building beside the Civic Centre.

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