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The Dartmouth
February 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

The Fourth Place brings games, comics and ‘geek culture’ to Hanover

The new store is located on Lebanon Street and open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends.

tacos-y-tequila-9.23.21_kyle-mullins

Frankfurters has already collaborated with campus Greek organizations, and Tacos y Tequila has expressed interest in hosting campus functions upon opening as well. 

The Fourth Place — a store for games, comics and “geek culture” — opened on the second floor of Hanover Park on Lebanon Street on Oct. 19. According to the store’s website, its mission is to be a place “where geeks feel at home and everyone is welcome to play.” The store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and open from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. the other days, with the hours extending to 11 p.m. on weekends. 

The store includes various membership plans to ensure that there are “options for everybody,” according to Struckhoff. These plans include a day pass for $15, a standard membership, an after-school membership for children and teenagers under 18, a family membership and a college student membership, all of which Struckhoff said give visitors access to themed rooms and other benefits. 

“We’ve got middle school and high school kids that show up a lot after school in the afternoons, and then it tends to transition into an evening crowd that are adults, young professionals and Dartmouth crowd,” Struckhoff said. “Over the weekend we get a mix of both, and some families.” 

For Shyam Bhagat ’26, The Fourth Place’s late hours provide an appealing alternative to on-campus options. For now, Bhagat said that he won’t be buying any memberships but will continue using day passes to use store games and facilities.

“I really like that it’s a store that is also a hangout spot for customers,” Bhagat said. “I don’t plan on buying any membership plans right now, but I will definitely head back during the winter term.”

The Fourth Place owner Ian Struckhoff, said that he grew up in Hanover. Struckhoff explained that the idea for the store name comes from Jack Kirby’s comic, “Fourth World,” and a play on the concept of a “third place.” 

“In sociology and retail there’s a concept of a ‘third place,’ and that’s the place after home and work where you feel at home,” Struckhoff  said. 

Struckhoff said the idea for the store has personal origins in his childhood experiences.

“I only lived in town part time and had to find something to do in the afternoon till my parents got out of work [after school ended],” Struckhoff said. “It was hard, especially for a kid who’s weird. We had to find spaces to spend time.”  

According to Struckhoff,  e-commerce has caused a lot of comic book and game stores to struggle, but he noticed that the successful ones provided “great spaces to hang out.” 

“While I cannot compete with Amazon on price, Amazon is never going to have tables for you to sit down at and meet people,” Struckhoff said.

Struckhoff emphasized the importance of attracting a broad base of store visitors.

“It’s important to me that I try to get every crowd because I think that’s how you create a diverse community, by not just looking for the locals or the kids,” he added. “I want to make sure that everybody can come in and see someone that looks like them.”

Struckhoff said his long-term goal would be for the store to become a national chain. 

“Ultimately it would be great if you could be a member of the Fourth Place and find a place like this wherever you go,” Struckhoff said.

The main room of the store has a Pac-Man arcade game, a gaming table and a kitchen “in the making” that Stuckoff said he hopes is finished by the winter so The Fourth Place can serve meals. There is also a snack bar with sodas and snacks, as well as games, merchandise, pillows, bottles, books, comics and other novelties for sale. 

Apart from the main room, the Fourth Place has two other themed rooms. One is the wizard’s tower room, which Struckhoff calls the “Lost Tom’s Tower” with stone walls, a game library, and a velveted board gaming table available only to Fourth Place members, according to Struckhoff.

The other tavern room, called the “Crossed Roads Inn” is fashioned like a medieval pub with wood-paneled walls and a wagon wheel chandelier. Along with another game table designated for store members, the room has a television attached to a number of gaming consoles. 

Vania Ding ’23, a patron of the store, said that “Hanover really needed a space open more at night, and also had things other than what Still North offers. I do enjoy having a game store and a place to find more graphic novels.”

Another visitor named Samal Mahanama, who said he was traveling through New Hampshire, said that he stopped by to purchase toys and merchandise for his family who like anime. 

Hanover town manager Alex Torpey wrote in an email statement that he is excited about the new business on a personal level.

“As a science fiction reader and writer, and former MTG [Magic the Gathering] champion (some may dispute that), I am excited to see what they end up offering!” Torpey wrote.