For the month of July our Store of the Month is Bird in Hand in Downtown Chico, California! Jean Noel chose this store for its “chill atmosphere” and its great support for our games. However, unlike other game stores, Bird in Hand started off with very different beginnings. I had the pleasure of discussing these interesting beginnings with Thad Winzenz, son-in-law of the store founders Bob and Barbara Malowney. The store actually started as a screen printing and graphics design shop. It made a business by printing t-shirts for local events. Eventually they started a small retail business selling shirts. The shop started to grow as they added other objects such as kites, yoyos, and games, and it wasn’t before long that they decided to establish Bird in Hand as a standalone store.
Because of these origins, Bird in Hand has a motley array of items that they sell. There isn’t one category of objects like in other specialty stores. Bird in Hand offers anything from shirts, greeting cards, bath supplies, toys, and games. Often the challenge is recognizing the diversity of their inventory. While this can be confusing, it’s also what the staff loves so much about the store. They love showing off their cool items to everyone who walks in. While parents would come in to buy toys for their children, they might also come in for a t-shirt or some soap for the bathroom. In that way, the staff has made Bird in Hand a family store for everyone to benefit from.
But don’t be fooled! Bird in Hand is still a fantastic game store (why else would it be store of the month!) Some of Thad’s Blue Orange favorites are Shrimp Cocktail, Fastrack, and the classic Gobblet! Like many of our other game fanatics, Thad likes twisting up the rules on Gobblet! to increase the difficulty and make even more challenging fun. He’ll sometimes start with all the pieces on the board either in clusters or completely spread out. It makes for a mind-bending memory game since players have to remember where their pieces are hidden right off the bat.
While Bird in Hand is definitely a store like no other, it also brings a standard that’s not always easy to find in this modern age of business: to engage and support the local community. Thad mentioned that while many stores try to promote products with sales, the owners of Bird in Hand try to reach out to local community events or even create their own to promote their products. These events include Chico Kite Day, where Bird in Hand will give out some of their kites to the families who participate, and the National YoYo Championships, an event that started small in Chico and has since spread across the US. Bird in Hand strives not only to be a successful business but to also participate in the community and give the family of Downtown Chico, California everything it can offer.
We are proud of Bird in Hand in so many ways. The store has become a role model for other, teaching the lesson that it’s not just about money, it’s about the people you give back to and the lives you touch. Congratulations to the Bird in Hand staff! We hope you continue to make a big splash in your small town. Visit Bird in Hand in Downtown Chico, California, or check out their website to see for yourself why Bird in Hand stands out in this month of July.