Shuffler's Den co-owners want gamers to feel at home

Aug. 26—Ever since Biagio DiCioccio learned how to play Magic the Gathering in 1994, he had dreamed of owning his own card shop.

"I liked going to card shops all the time and as a family, on vacations, we used to stop at all the card shops we could," recalled DiCioccio, who is now the co-owner of Shuffler's Den in Willoughby Hills alongside Chris Howell.

DiCioccio and Howell, who met each other in college 20 years ago, opened the local gaming store in March of this year at 34955 Chardon Road.

"I knew he's always wanted to do this," Howell said. "I have interest in running stores and other businesses. The place became available. It was the right place, right time, so I proposed that we do this and the two of us came together."

DiCioccio said Shuffler's Den is for the community to come in and make it their home.

"They can play card games, board games, we have a Dungeons and Dragons group, so we just try to make it like they're playing at home, but they don't have to worry about cleaning and stuff like that," he said. "We have Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, a newer game called Flesh and Blood and multiple board games from different kinds of companies."

Since opening on Chardon Road, the community response toward the business has been great, DiCioccio said.

"They were surprised to know we were here," he said. "A lot of people tend to say, 'I passed you four times back and forth on Chardon Road.' We get people coming in and checking us out, and then we get other people from other gaming stores."

DiCioccio believes Shuffler's Den is in a more central area for people to come and play, and allows for players to meet new people.

"They don't have to worry about having people they might not know at their house," he said.

Both DiCioccio and Howell strive to specialize in board games that aren't typically seen in Target or other big box stores.

"The Catans, Ticket to Rides — we carry those," Howell said. "A lot of the award-winning ones we have, so the speciality ones people are looking for and mostly trading card games. We have distributors and for the cards, not only do we have distributors, but we buy and sell used cards.

"It's kind of like a pawn shop for card games, so people will come in here and we'll trade in to get new stuff, and we'll make deals that way."

Howell said Shuffler's Den is also a place where players can learn from one another as they're playing.

"There's things they don't think about when they're playing, so it's a community aspect of it where they'll learn new things and see what other people are doing," he said. "We have players who will go play in regional tournaments. Some of the stuff they learn here, they'll go and do elsewhere, and try to compete."

Friday nights are usually the busiest, Howell said, noting that players range from teenagers to seniors.

"We've had up to 25 in here and some nights we have six to 10," he said. "We have a steady customer stream."

Other than gravitating toward the card games, people are enjoying more causal, easy-to-pick-up games they haven't heard of, DiCioccio said.

"People playing video games since the original Dungeons and Dragons still play, which is awesome," he said. "We welcome anyone who wants to come and play."

The co-owners hope to grow the business and be able to accommodate more players.

"Other than getting bigger, a more consistent, steadfast crowd who plays every week," DiCioccio said. "I was collecting at home for the better part of 30 years. I was like everyone else who comes in here, trying to find a spot where I could call home and play. It's been really great to be here."

Shuffler's Den's hours include 3 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. They're closed Mondays and Wednesdays.

For inquiries, call 440-664-2485 or visit The business is also on Facebook and Instagram.

"We do have a Discord, so a lot of our players will go on our Discord (instant messaging, social platform)," Howell said.