It’s Story Time! This is my first post in a series of things I find interesting, entertaining, or just outright wonderful…and what better way to begin than to talk about a place that is near and dear not only to my own heart, but the collective heart of Cambridge as a whole: Heffers Bookshop!
When we first moved to Cambridge, we knew it would take some time to settle in, to find a community that felt like home. We knew all too well how hard it can be to “make friends” when you are past the age when your biggest concerns were papers, schoolbooks, and what you’re eating for lunch that day. What’s more, my partner and I are both introverts at heart, so beyond our interactions at the park with fellow dog owners (we know all the dogs’ names…human names are harder…), it was getting difficult to find that sense of kinship in this city that we had fallen in love with.
Being the bookworm and D&D nerds that we are, we wanted to find some like-minded folk to nerd out and game with…so we started by checking out the local games shops. When we walked into Heffers, we found a home.
First of all: it is a fantastic bookstore with shelves upon shelves of the kinds of stories that would keep my mind soaring for days before regretfully coming back to reality. They hold numerous events to showcase local authors and introduce children to the joys of reading and storytelling…all for free! Beyond the books, which were more than enough to get me through the door, they also have a wonderful range of stationary (some featuring prints from local artists), music and wonderful accessories and gifts too!
That brings me to the games section. At our first visit it was a well-stocked, but comparatively, small section in the middle of the store…now it has expanded to take up the majority of the bottom floor. There you will find a kaleidoscopic selection of tabletop games and RPGs…they even carry the Tal’Dorei Campaign Guide, which made my Critter-self extremely happy 🙂
But enough about the products on the shelves…the real reason we fell in love with Heffers, the real pièce de résistance, is the people who work there. After exploring the game section, we found ourselves swept up in an hours-long conversation with the games dept staff about books, D&D, and all things nerdy. Next thing we knew, we were walking out the door with books in hand and plans to start coming to the bi-monthly Heffers Games Night.
Fast-forward to a year or so later: Through game nights and the growing D&D Storytelling Workshops (which Heffers has hosted from the beginning), we now find ourselves comfortably nestled in the middle of Cambridge’s gaming community, and it’s all thanks to this bookstore and the people who keep it alive. I could go one and make a list of the things that make Heffers wonderful, but it really all boils down to this:
Openness and Community Involvement.
Heffers has been part of the community for over 140 years and continues to thrive by creating a welcoming atmosphere for everyone who walks through their doors. I’ve been to many a bookstore in my life, but Heffers does so much more than simply sell books. Through the free-entry events for lovers of story and tabletop gaming enthusiasts of all ages, it provides a place for people from all walks of life to gather and share ideas…and unlike many comic-book shops and game shops I have visited, the sense of “gatekeeping” and judgment I have become accustomed to as a “girl gamer” is nowhere to be found. Not only do the staff at Heffers set the example for an environment of acceptance, but the community itself will police and protect each other at any sign of inappropriate behavior.
In short, this is a place where you can go for fun and camaraderie regardless of your age or background. The Heffers family has also shown an openness to ideas and participation from its volunteers that you rarely see in established businesses. Without them, I would have never had the opportunity to share D&D and Storytelling with local families…and it’s very likely that this blog might not have been born!
I know that Heffers is not the only place to create an atmosphere such as this…and I hope that any of you reading this have also found a gathering place for you and your friends to share your passions. If not…then perhaps you can be the one to create it! Let’s do our best to keep it going and support our local groups, bookshops, libraries, and game shops that provide welcoming gathering places for us to connect!
…did I mention that Heffers is dog-friendly? 😀