Beloved Hill woman-owned shop Labyrinth Games & Puzzles (645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) will celebrate ten years of bringing families together to play this November. Labyrinth will mark this milestone with a mostly virtual celebration featuring giveaways, limited edition Labyrinth 10th anniversary merchandise, and a social media campaign commemorating the fun of the last decade.
Store owner Kathleen Donahue opened Labyrinth on Black Friday in 2010 after being unable to locate a mancala board for her son to take to a birthday party. Right away, Kathleen focused on making Labyrinth more than just a games and puzzles store. She wanted Labyrinth to be a fun, stimulating place where people could gather to play games or solve puzzles with friends. With the success of a community-centered model, Labyrinth was able to expand, doubling its size in 2016 and allowing Labyrinth to host larger events, carry even more games and puzzles and add several new product lines.
Throughout the years Labyrinth has become integrated into the Capitol Hill community. The games store staff have run thousands of events, including afterschool classes, birthdays, summer camps, gaming clubs, discussions with notable game designers and fundraising events. Thanks to these events and Labyrinth’s various programs many people have grown-up with –and in– the store. “It’s been wonderful to watch these kids grow and develop as they’ve attended events throughout the years,” Donahue said.
These events have also allowed for Labyrinth to donate tens of thousands of dollars to schools, teachers and non-profits further benefiting children in DC. In 2019 alone, Labyrinth raised over $8,000 for Children’s National Hospital by hosting a 24-hour board gaming event.
For its contributions to the community, Labyrinth was named the Retailer of the Year by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) in 2019. Kathleen was also awarded the 2020 Steve Cymrot ‘Spark’ award by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, an award that recognizes individuals whose contributions, like those of Steve Cymrot himself, have ignited institutions of lasting value and importance to the neighborhood.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Kathleen remains committed to maintaining both her staff’s safety and Labyrinth’s high level of customer service. “When I started Labyrinth, I had some very, very strict ideals about what I wanted the store to be,” Donahue told the Hill Rag in April. “I wanted it to be a very community space and I’m not going give that up just because we’re you know, 75% down on our income.”
It has been a difficult year, and a store built around community interaction does suffer when events must be postponed. But with luck and the outpouring of community support the business has received, this will not be the last decade of fund and games that Labyrinth will celebrate with Hill neighbors.
You can continue to support Labyrinth Games & Puzzles (645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) and learn more about the Tenth Anniversary Celebration by visiting their new online store.