A hobbyist’s haven

By: Gerard Vincent Francisco October 23,2018 - 10:04 PM

Everyone has a hobby — that one thing one does regularly for pleasure during leisure time.

For 30-year old Jefferson “Jeff” Tan and a small community of other gamers, it is deck building and board games.

Jeff, a management graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, is vice president of Wellmade Motors a machining and engineering company run by his father, Phillip Tan.

However, in a shop tucked inside a mall in midtown Cebu, he is the top dog at his very first attempt to own a business.

Jeff is the president of Magus Games, previously Magus Board Games and Hobbies Inc., a store along Mango Avenue, dedicated to trading cards, miniature figurines and board games.

Filled with packs, decks, boxes of toys and several colors of dice, Magus caters to hobbyists that are into table top games like Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, Yugi – Oh and Warhammer 40K.

During his high school days, 18 years ago, Jeff played the trading card game, Magic the Gathering in another shop in another mall.

For four years, Jeff played the game extensively but stopped during his college and early work years, due to his busy schedule.

He kept his card collection though, and after eight years, went back to playing the game in 2013.

“A hobby can be anything you want that you want to invest in,” Jeff said.

His friend, Jordan Chua, approached him pitching him the idea for the shop, and Jeff agreed to come on board.

Their original plan for a shop at the Talamban area did not pan out well and so they moved to find another location at the heart of Cebu City.

“The surveyors told me that it was a bad place, that nobody walks here. But the good thing about this area is that most jeepneys pass by here, and there is a school nearby,” said Jeff of their store inside the mall which was difficult for customers to find.

Magus Games opened in May 2017 and continues to draw attention a year later despite its slow start.

Jeff said that he never considered his store as a way to gain income, but a way to bring the Cebuano hobbyist community to greater heights.

Jeff recalled the difficulty in finding people to invest in their hobby shop.

“No matter how well we drafted our plan, the concept itself didn’t make sense,” said Jeff.

According to Jeff, Magus earns around P150,000 a month. Ten percent of the profit goes back into the store to buy stocks.

Most of their products, such as decks and cards, are priced at P150 to P250, while their most expensive item would be the figurines that cost over P1000.

Jeff said that their biggest customers are professionals and adults who want to destress from work.

Some people come out of depression when they find joy in playing their favorite hobby, Jeff noted.

HOBBYISTS

Two of Jeff’s customers are 28-year-old Jesulito “Je” Kuan and Christopher “Chris” Pearson, 53.

Je and Chris play a friendly game of Warhammer 40K, a tabletop game where they move small miniature units and conquer objectives on a wide board.

Je is a member of the Cebu Board Gaming Society, while Chris is a Texas native who migrated to Cebu.

Je and Chris go to Magus to play every Sunday, showing off their custom pieces and massive toy armies.

“In Manila, they play board games like it’s breakfast,” said Je.

“I try to tell them that it’s like playing video games like DOTA, but on a table,” said Chris.

Like Chris and Je, Jeff believes that the hobbyist community in Cebu is underrated and does not get a lot of recognition.

Compared to the hobbyist community outside Cebu which easily brings in thousands of individuals for tournaments and conventions, the Cebu community is an active, yet small group of only around 100 individuals.

“It was even smaller before,” said Jeff.

Jeff lamented how others think that trading cards and building decks as a hobby was a waste of time when it fact, it makes people happy.

“We have guys here that are working jobs that they were forced into, but whenever they get here, they forget about the stress of work,” Jeff pointed it out.

He added that the strategic nature of card games like Magic the Gathering also helps children think more logically.

The hobbyists in Cebu are reportedly not very active in competitions and usually prefer to play their games at home.

To encourage more hobbyists, Jeff introduces people to the games, even giving free products to those who want to learn them.

Their store also offers discounts while their shopkeepers who are also a part of the hobbyist community, teach customers how to properly trade cards with good ethics and rules.

“If you bought a P20 card, but it actually costs P1000, then you have a serious problem,” said Jeff.

Anyone, no matter the age or the gender, can simply walk into Magus and play the games for free, said Jeff.

Jeff added that the community has gotten bigger, over time, with more players getting into the games they showcase every now and then.

“Hobbying is not just playing, it’s not just for fun, it has an underlying component that needs to be said,” said Jeff referring to the many life lessons learned by hobbyists along the way.

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