MILWAUKEE — Battlebox Studios, a video game store and gaming lounge, is planning on a major expansion that would eventually turn into an events space for esports tournaments and musical performances.
Bryant Wilcox, who helps his son run the store at 5431 W. Lisbon Ave. in Milwaukee, said they plan on buying the two adjacent vacant lots to create a new multipurpose center.
"We're going to do like bigger tournaments there, you know, with all the glitz and glamour of like maybe a smaller like esports arena at times, and somedays we may actually host a music event. We may have spoken word," Wilcox said.
There is no specific timetable for when the new space will be open, Wilcox said. It will be a slow build. However, just as they built their initial Battlebox store, with each dollar they make, they will put it back into construction.
“We'd sell a Playstation. Go to Menard's, buy some drywall," Wilcox said.
Battlebox Studios is a buy, sell, and trade store for video games, action figures, anime, and other collectibles. It's also a gaming lounge. Battlebox focuses on creating a "safe space" for what Wilcox calls 'Blerds'.
“Anybody that’s a minority, that's a nerd, that's into like geek stuff, into comics, gaming, anime, but still with a little urban edge to you, that's what we are," Wilcox said.
It's not just people of color that come to Battlebox Studios. Wilcox said it's important to have a deliberate space for them. Wilcox experienced that lack of accepting video game and collectible stores first hand.
"Because they don’t have a place, you know. There’s no place. How do I know? We’ve been trying to find it ever since, and it don’t exist."
When the pandemic hit, it was a devastating blow to Wilcox and his family. It was a family endeavor when it first opened in 2016. Wilcox said they put their entire life savings into the store.
“We literally emptied out. Not just the banks, anything, everything we had.”
They closed the store, but have since been able to reopen. The gaming lounge, where they host tournaments and friendly competitions, had to stop. The buy, sell, and trade portion of the store was able to open sooner.
It all makes this new land and building purchase all the more important. Wilcox said that if they had more space or an outdoor area, they wouldn't have had to shut down for as long. So not only is this an investment into a multi-purpose space, but it's a way for the store to stay open in the event of another catastrophe like the coronavirus pandemic.