LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The wooden boards covering the doors and windows outside of Card N All Gaming are covered in graffiti. It’s a sight the owners and employees said is just a reminder of the recent trouble there with multiple burglaries and two armed robberies.
The store prides themselves on being “Louisville’s gateway to all things gaming.”
“It’s nerd heaven,” Mason Berry, the co-owner of Card N All Gaming, said. “It’s a little slice of what people would want and surround themselves and enjoy and have fun with.”
Berry and his business partner Zack Saleh started the business as an idea about seven years ago.
“We started this business with next to nothing in my garage as a collective idea that we wanted to sell our favorite things, dealing our favorite things and establish communities around them,” Saleh, the co-owner of Card N All Gaming, said.
Two and a half years ago, the two opened a 7,500 square-foot storefront in a shopping center on New Cut Road. Berry said that there are about 10,000 different items, including magic trading cards, new and classic video games, Pokémon items, and more.
In March 2020, COVID-19 shut down their store, forcing them to switch their business model. Saleh said they started selling online and have been able to ship anywhere in the U.S.
“That largely lead to our ability to be sustained from then to now,” Saleh said.
When the store reopened, they only let ten people in at a time.
“Took a little while for people to get used to the change of the way we do business, but things started to get better,” Saleh said. “And then seemingly out of nowhere we started to get in a very bad chain of break-ins first, after we’re closed. Business is closed, everything is locked up. In two nights, we had two break-ins.”
The first two break-ins happened in November. The owners said a thief had broken the front glass and taken money from all the cash registers in the store.
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Saleh said they then covered the windows and doors with plywood, hoping that would keep customers and employees safe. A little more than a month later, on Jan. 18, 2021, Saleh said they took the plywood down and installed new scissor gates in front of the big windows and front doors.
“I had just got done putting in the last screw of our door scissor gates and walked out to go to Big Lots to buy locks for our scissor gates,” Saleh said. “In the three minutes I was gone, the store was subjected to its first armed robbery.”
Berry was in the back when he heard yelling, and when he looked up at the security camera, he couldn’t believe what he saw.
“I saw it, an AK-47, in one of my employees’ faces,” Berry said.
He said he immediately called 911.
“It’s terrifying. Even looking at it I was like, ‘What? This can’t even be real. What’s happening?’”
Nate Shephard, a video game manager at Card N All gaming, was one of the employees at the store when the robbery took place.
“[Two men] came in with an AK-47,” he said. “My coworker and I were up here doing everyday business when they told us to put the money in the bag with the AK trained directly at my forehead for the full duration.”
Austin Murray, the store’s TCG manager, was also in the store towards the back. He said he immediately dropped to his knees when he saw the men walk in with the gun.
“One of the guys came back there and he was yelling at us telling us to hurry up and give him money and stuff like that,” Murray said.
No one was hurt and no customers were inside.
Nine days later, on Jan. 27, they were burglarized again after hours.
“The guy climbed over the scissor gate and pushed it down,” Saleh said. “To where it collapsed, and they were able to get in, and did damage to the front. [They] took all the cash out of the registers and ran out the back door.”
After the burglary on Jan. 27, Saleh and Berry started considering relocating.
“How many tens of thousands of dollars have I put into this store that I may just have to walk away from, you know?” Berry said with tears in his eyes. “It really makes it hurt.”
Saleh, a Louisville native and resident of South Louisville, said he’s concerned about the safety of their customers and employees now.
“We have no safety here anymore. We have no ability to provide our customers or employees a safe space to engage in business and look for the products that they want,” he said.
On Jan. 31, the store experienced a second armed robbery, this time by one man armed with a handgun.
Shepard, for a second time, was in the front of the store as the thief came in, demanding money.
“Hear the round entering the chamber, put the money in the bag, same situation,” Shepard said. “At that point it was more frustration than fear. Because you’re put in a situation where you want to stop it, you want to help your coworkers, you want to help the owners, but you just can’t.”
Berry and Saleh said it’s still hard to believe what has happened. They are still trying to figure out, in the long-term, what to do.
“It makes the store feel tainted now like I’m not in control of the space anymore,” Berry said. “With all the stuff happening it’s really put a damper on everything.”
The store is closed to the public now. They are offering curbside pick-up from noon-4 p.m. daily for online purchases and are scheduling appointments for repairs or if people want to sell items to them.
Shepard and Murray, along with other workers who talked to WAVE 3 News, said they feel some anxiety because of the incidents.
“Knocks on the door are really scary. People walking in the door and the beeper going on, it’s really all kind of jarring,” Murray said.
The owners do not know if the incidents are connected. They said the burglars and robbers only took cash, not any of their inventory.
Even with security measures in place, though, Berry and Saleh said their feeling of safety at the store is fading rapidly.
“You’re ruining a big part of peoples’ lives,” Berry said of those who broke in and robbed them at gunpoint. “A lot of enjoyment people are getting, you’re taking more than just money. You’re taking an experience, a community. You’re hurting a lot of people.”