Geeky cafe and shop opening soon in Ipswich

Geek Retreat Ipswich franchisees Sharon Lockhart and Rob Harden at their Bedfield home

Sharon Lockhart and Rob Harden are opening a Geek Retreat store in Ipswich. They are temporarily using their outside space - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A home for Ipswich geeks is aiming to open at the former Age UK store in the town. 

Geek Retreat Ipswich will be a board game cafe - a franchise concept that has worked elsewhere in the country - in Upper Brook Street.

Mum and former teacher Sharon Lockhart, a board game enthusiast, and husband Rob Harden have been "astounded" by the interest in her store so far. 

Geek Retreat games

Sharon Lockhart and Rob Harden are opening a Geek Retreat store in Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mrs Lockhart said the whole idea of having free games and lots of events running across the store is to create an "inclusive" and "welcoming" space for everyone. 

She added: "Safe spaces where people can meet are so important and destination locations in the town centre are the way to bring life back to our town."


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The Geek Retreat gaming retailer has already been very successful in Scotland before announcing an expansion to other areas of the UK through franchises. 

She said: "We love Ipswich and started this process because we heard about it and thought wow, that would be amazing in Ipswich, hope it opens soon, and then thought, wait a minute - why don’t we bring it to Ipswich!

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"Rob has the business skills and my specialty is outreach, events and education. We have put together an amazing team of staff and volunteers who have skills in so many areas with specialists in gaming, art and all things geeky!

"We are working with a lot of local groups to help those with additional needs fully enjoy the space.

From left, Rob Harden, Sharon Lockhart, Leon Scott, Ben Mcleish and Alex Harden of Geek Retreat in Ipswich

Sharon Lockhart and Rob Harden are opening a Geek Retreat store in Ipswich. They are temporarily using their outside space from left, Rob Harden, Sharon Lockhart, Leon Scott, Ben Mcleish and Alex Harden - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"Our ground floor has an access ramp and disabled toilet. We are working with Realise Futures to support employment programmes.

"Our national charity is the National Autistic Society but we have a close tie to the Brain Tumour Charity in memory of a close friend’s husband, game fan and staff family member, Rob Anders, and are also helping other charities do fundraising at the café and use our additional space."

While playing the games, customers can snack on milkshakes and comfort food including a breakfast menu, kids' menu and vegan options.

Events will include Warhammer, Magic The Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Kids Pokemon Club, Board Games, over 60s board games or chess, adult craft club and D&D.

They are going to open October 23 with hours of 10am to 10pm from Monday to Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 7pm. 

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