Red Deer family firm adapts and thrives

CompuSoft The Game Store has learned how to move with the times

Looking for a custom computer?

How about Dungeons and Dragons or the latest Warhammer 40,000 tabletop army? Maybe even a scaled-down version of a Spitfire fighter plane.

Red Deer’s Keaton family are on the job. Their CompuSoft The Game Store just moved last month to 2811D Bremner Ave.

Cheryl, husband Will, and family friend, Claude Richard, joined forces to open a small shop catering to the computer business in downtown Red Deer in 1996.

“Were just a little shop. It was a tiny little corner,” she said.

It started as a software shop, but within six months had branched into computer hardware and about 17 years ago moved to 2067 Gaetz Avenue in a space vacated by Fanny’s Fabrics.

Over the years it has become a second-generation family business with Cheryl and Will’s sons, Jeff and Keenan, both involved.

Few technologies evolve quicker than the computer industry and that meant CompuSoft had to keep pace. The retail software market eventually dwindled as people switched to buying those products online.

“We had massive amounts of space at our old location so we just decided to play,” she said.

So about eight years ago, they began bringing in lines of board games, wargaming products, model rockets and a huge selection of plastic models, from muscle cars to Messerschmitts, X-wing fighters to Leonardo da Vinci invention replicas.

“It’s done really, really well. We’ve been able to develop and grow the game side hugely,” she said.

In our eyes-glued-to-smartphone society, Keaton is pleased to see growing enthusiasm for family board or party games and role-playing games.

“It’s hugely increased. So it’s nice to see people interacting again with real people,” she said with a laugh.

Building plastic models is also making a big comeback among the younger generation.

“There was a time when there was a generational gap among who actually did modelling. But it’s really expanded.”

Shop staff, many of whom have been there for many years, are enthusiastic experts only to happen to help beginners and more advanced modellers puzzle through their problems.

On the computer side, they custom-build and service machines and offer a range of laptop and desktop computers.

“From the basic office starter machine we can go all the way to the extreme gamers,” she said. “The only thing we don’t carry is a line of printers and ink.”

After 17 years on Gaetz Avenue, Keaton said it was time for a little “freshening up” and the new location just north of Bower Place Mall and right across from the just-relocated Mission Thrift Store has been great.

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