It’s a store! It’s a school! It’s a playground! PlayForge in Downtown Littleton boasts thousands of games and toys, plus a makerspace and classroom where they offer STEM-focused educational programming for children and adults.
“At PlayForge, customers buy games, make games, and play-test their creations with the creative community they foster,” Jesse Stommel, PlayForge’s co-owner, says. Stommel, a teacher of 22 years, runs the shop with partner Joshua Lee, a former alternative energy engineer. Their daughter, five-year-old Hazel, is proud to be the play-tester and “store manager.”
On Thursdays in March, PlayForge will be offering Open Lab Nights with a different focus each week: 3D Modeling and Printing, Miniatures Painting, Laser Cutting and Etching, and Leather Work. Participants will be introduced to new tools and techniques and are encouraged to experiment. For example, they’ve chosen equipment like the Glowforge 3D printer so that folks can have an idea, create it in simple software on an iPad, and manufacture it all within about one to two hours.
“Every class is different in our space, because participants bring their imaginations, and each person comes to the space with different interests and abilities,” Stommel says.
In addition to Open Lab Nights, which are offered throughout the year, PlayForge hosts weeklong day camps for kids ages six to 12 in the summer. They also hold regular game nights, including Dungeons & Dragons for middle schoolers and Pokémon for new players. If you want to play on your own, they have a large game library—pop in and try something out or reserve a table for $5 per player.
Need to Know: Open Lab Nights are scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 3, 10, 24, and 31. See their website for each night’s recommended ages. The registration fee is $20 per night, which includes basic materials.