Richard Martin came to McPherson for a degree. He stayed for the experience.

Richard Martin came to McPherson for a degree. He stayed for the experience.
Martin, who is now one of four owners of The Village Geek, grew up in Woodstock, Illinois, near Chicago. Growing up, his goal was to own his own business. He started working at Borders bookstore to gain experience, but after a while, education became a roadblock.
“In order to keep advancing, I needed a four-year degree,” he said. “I went to a career fair at a two-year college, and they all needed a four-year degree.”
Martin decided to study at a small, Christian-based college, and Central Christian College seemed a good fit. He arrived at the college in 2005 to earn a bachelor's degree in business management. He also joined Phi Beta Lambda, which helps students learn about business management.
Though he did well in case studies, Martin decided to try and get some real world experience. He helped open Elite Entertainment, a video rental store, in 2007.
“I had worked at a Gamestop and decided to help open the store,” he said. “I thought it would be fun. The owner thought it would be good to bring me on, help me learn what it takes to start a business.”
Martin was in charge of advertising and marketing, in addition to general store and customer service duties. The store closed in 2012, and Martin took a job at Central Christian College. He eventually became manager of The Well when the college bought the property last year.
He also joined the McPherson Main Street organization, which promotes Main Street business. He was the board's president in 2014 and now serves as the past president.
However, it was a bit of luck that brought his current business into reality. He met Jed Litwiller, Michael Yates and Tidus Brandt through school and other activities, and the group started playing games once a week.
“One night, someone said we should open a gaming store,” Martin said. “I'd done some research on what it'd take to open a video game store, and Mike looked into board games and comics. We looked at the numbers, and it seemed like doing all three would be a good fit.”
The group began to put together a business plan, analyzing costs, sales projections and demographics to see what such a business would look like.
“The numbers looked good - really good,” Martin said. “We sat there and talked for 15 minutes about why nobody else had done this before. It seemed too good to be true.”
The store opened in July 2012 and has been growing ever since, even though running a business with four partners is risky.
“We had so many people say we were dumb to open a business with four partners, and generally they're right,” Martin said. “Statistically, all partnerships fail, and there are a lot of hurdles to overcome.”
Martin said one of the challenges is maintaining good communication and a unified vision for the store. With four people, Martin said it can be a challenge to make sure everyone's on the same page.
“As long as we're willing to fight for it, though, we can do it,” he said. “We all have the same goal, so when we disagree, we talk about it.”
One of the advantages, Martin said, is the strengths each partner brings to the business.
“My background is in videogames and retail. Mike has opened his own business and has a lot of experience. Tidus was the first of us to join Main Street, and he has a lot of local connections. And Jed knows board games better than all of us and is phenomenal at customer service,” Martin said. “We all bring something unique, and it wouldn't be as successful if it was only two or three of us.”