After three years of hosting trading card tournaments and miniature tabletop wargaming matches, The War Store hobby shop in downtown Riverhead is taking its battles elsewhere.
The East Main Street enterprise will close in early June and move to a new location on Middle Country Road in Middle Island, said owner Neal Catapano. As recently as this week, the store was still stocked with dice and board games and tiny unpainted metal figures in plastic clamshell cases.
Mr. Catapano said that inventory and the rest of the store will come along on the move. He said his company’s lease for the building was coming to an end and he decided it was best for The War Store — which had been an online-only retailer for hobby gaming supplies before opening in Riverhead — to make the move.
“We really like Riverhead but it felt like it was better to move closer to where most of our customers are coming from,” Mr. Catapano said. “It’s a little melancholy, but we’re glad we made an impression here.”
The War Store was a “destination store,” he said, adding that customers sought them out for hobby supplies.
“The store has never really needed a lot of walk-in traffic,” he said. “No one ever really says ‘I need to go out and buy some Warhammer figures.’”
Store manager Steve Mejas said the move would help the business continue to grow.
“We had a great time out here,” he said. “We’re not happy to leave Riverhead, in a sense, because everyone’s been good out here.”
Mr. Mejas said most customers were actually excited about the news, since the storefront will now be closer to their homes in towns farther west.
During the store’s first years, he said, the downtown location hosted a group of teens from Riverhead High School who would play Magic: The Gathering, a collectible card game. But those students graduated and moved from the area, he added, and the store never took off among Riverheaders in quite the way he had hoped.
“We really didn’t see a lot out of [customers out of] the high school, at the end of the day,” he said.
Mr. Mejas hopes that will change at the store’s Middle Island location, which is close to four other school districts.
Photo Caption: Gaming dice on display at The War Store Hobby Center in downtown Riverhead. After three years in Riverhead, the shop will close early next month and move to Middle Island. (Credit: Paul Squire)