Mark Brazauski drove a truck for a living when, nine years ago, he opened a gaming shop in downtown Leeds to entertain his father, Bud, who was retired but missed working.
Bud’s Place Games became a much-needed gathering place, not just for Bud, but for “nerds” around the Birmingham metro who have flocked there over the years to connect with liked-minded gamers who have a similarly hardy imagination.
On Sunday night, the place was packed with kids playing Pokemon and adults in teams playing Dungeons & Dragons, as they do every week.
This past Saturday, Bud’s held a charity Yu-gi-ohtournament where they charged one canned good for entry into each of the five rounds. They collected a sizable stack of nonperishable foods that will go to a Leeds food bank.
They have players who come from all over the metro and even Huntsville to play. And Bud’s sponsors traveling game teams, like one that is competing in a national tournament in Roanoke, Va., this week.
Bud’s Place is a labor of love for Brazauski. He and his dad started Bud’s in rental space across Parkway Drive from the current location for $2,000. They expanded to the two-story store where they are today, but Bud no longer enjoys the popular game shop they built. He has dementia now and is in a nursing home.
Brazauski left the road and runs the shop full time now. He even lives in an apartment upstairs to be close to the shop.
He makes money by selling items needed for the games. Bud’s has become a go-to spot for new gamers to visit for help making sets for Pokemon and other games from resident expert gamers like Rick Heard, who leads the Sunday activities.
Entire families come hang out, which Brazauski loves. He and his dad envisioned it being a place for families to bond over board games.
And Brazauski has plans for growth. He recently got into Crossfit and lost 60 lbs and envisions using their space for “nerd yoga” and other fitness classes that fit a gaming audience.
Bud’s has designated nights for activities that are free and open to the public.
Most Saturdays are Adventure League day when gamers of all ages come play Dragon Ball and Heroclix. Pokemon League meets on Sundays 2-6 p.m. Keep up with tournaments and game days by following Bud’s Place Games on Facebook.
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