News

Nerd Herd set to open in Gettysburg

Written by Davin Jurgensen, The Evening Sun | May 2, 2016 4:22 PM
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Gettysburg Area High School senior Seth Zimmann, left, and sophomore Erin Heeschen, right, discuss their favorite Harry Potter characters while playing a board game at Nerd Herd Gifts and Games in Gettysburg. Zimmann and Heeschen are part of a group of students that will operate the store in downtown with a hope to cater to gaming and nerd culture. (Photo: Shane Dunlap, The Evening Sun)

(Gettysburg) -- Nick Wallace, 16, never thought about opening his own store.

But he is.

He and five of his friends are the minds behind Gettysburg's newest pop culture shop: Nerd Herd Gifts and Games.

The team has worked relentlessly since December, attending trade shows and constructing the space at 40 Baltimore St. to present passerby with products that embody an eclectic feel.

Timbrel Wallace, Nick's mother and the owner of Lark Gifts in Gettysburg, presented the idea to her son about he and his friends opening up their own store. Every weekend they would occupy themselves in each other's basements by playing board games. Wallace thought to herself, "How can they turn this into something productive?"

And the idea took off from there.

Wallace used to operate her store, Lark Gifts, at 40 Baltimore St. but moved down the street to Lincoln Square in 2015. With the lease still in her name at her previous location, she figured it could be the space to provide an educational opportunity and teach kids what it takes to start and run a business.

"It's a good starter space," Wallace said.

The idea to run a store with his friend intrigued Nick.

"It went from 'It'd be really cool' to 'That sounds hard' to 'Let's do it'," he said.

So he pulled together some of his Gettysburg High School friends and started the process.

Although the kids hold most of the reins, they are under direction of Wallace and her husband, Scott Wallace, and a parental advisory board.

"We didn't want to dominate the process," Scott Wallace said. "We want to make sure the kids are involved in the buying and selection process. We help them define boundaries and direct them back to the goal."

The kids attended trade shows in Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York to select products for their store. At first, they were buying items based on their interests, Nick said. However, they realized they had to start thinking about what other people could enjoy.

Items in the store vary from board games, coin purses and comic book character items to pizza-shaped edible cookies and more trinkets that catch one's eye.

"It's a smorgasbord of nerdy, nice and in between," Seth Zimmann, 16, said.

The space's four light blue walls and white lanterns that hang from the ceiling offer an inviting look. Toward the back of the store is a seating area, which the kids hope will eventually be used for game tournaments. An arcade machine will also make its way to the area.

Each student's responsibilities are based on interests, Wallace said.

For example, Nick is into products and researching, Cail Umbaugh, 17, handles the website as his interest lies in computer programming, and Seth takes care of the accounting side and is learning payroll.

"It's a good experience," Nick said. "It's an actual store! I can be around all the stuff I really enjoy and in larger quantities than I'm used to."

The group of friends dubbed their store "The Nerd Herd" after it became a nickname for them last year. No one could remember exactly how it came about, but it stuck.

"It's been an amazing experience hanging around nerds in a nerdy store," Erin Heeschen, 15, said. "It's a dream come true."

Timbrel Wallace was nervous about this project at first, she said. But as it's nearing its final stages, she's feeling excited.

Nerd Herd is set to open May 6, and Nick and his group of friends will switch over to the managing side of the business, working as employees. Each students' paycheck will be donated to a charity of their choice, Wallace said.

The goal was to provide high school students with real life experience before they go to college or enter the workforce, her husband said. The process aimed to teach valuable skills and open them up to things they weren't thinking about before.

As for the future, Wallace hopes the student-managed business will stay in operation. What's more, as the students graduate and new ones come in, the products will change based on interests.

If you go

What: Nerd Herd

Where: 40 Baltimore St., Gettysburg

Grand opening: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 6

May hours: Fridays 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

June and summer hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays and Mondays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between The Evening Sun and WITF. 

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