As a kid, John Coombs loved nothing more than Batman and visiting game shops. Growing up in the cow town of Fortuna, he was mostly out of luck. After graduating from high school, Coombs hatched a plan to start his own game shop, joining the Navy to earn the start-up cash.

After working on submarines for five years, Coombs was ready and returned to his wife's hometown of Eureka. He joined forces with equally passionate nerd/business partner Noah Brock, and the pair opened The Scruffy Nerd Herder in 2017. (Yeah, that's a riff on a Star Wars quote.) For the comic book-loving kids — and adults! — of Humboldt County, it's a new home away from home.

"We're about 70 percent comic books and 30 percent gaming," explain Coombs. Though he didn't start playing Magic the Gathering until opening the Nerd Herder, Coombs is hooked. Each week, the shop hosts Magic Night Thursday, staying open as long as players are still awake. On the last Saturday of every month, the shop stages a video game tournament, setting up card tables in back and selling soda, snacks and candy to fortify the contenders. If the business model is built on having fun, so far, the nerds are killing it.

"We're doing better than we expected. The foot traffic in Old Town is amazing, you can't beat it," says Coombs.

In the front windows of the shop, a life-sized robot and roaring dinosaur welcome customers inside. During Arts Alive, local artist Paige McClurg, who created the window displays, sketches live charcoal drawings for visitors. In the future, board game nights and more D&D (Dungeons & Dragons, for the uninitiated) events are in the works. For info on events, movie nights and comic book new releases, follow the Nerd Herders on Facebook or stop by Old Town to say hello.

The Scruffy Nerd Herder
234 F St., Eureka
(707) 273-5274
Wed-Thu 10 am - 7 pm
Fri-Sat 10 am - 8 pm
Sun 10 am - 4 pm
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