Calling all families that play together! Get your dice-rolling hands ready and put your thinking caps on because Cat & Mouse Game Store just opened in the West Loop. It’s the second location of the shop that started in Bucktown over six years ago. This location is bigger — which means there is plenty of space for old and new favorite games, puzzles and toys, plus tournaments and game nights.
You won’t miss the digital world one bit once you start snooping around the packed shelves, which hold hundreds and hundreds (no exaggeration!) of diversions. Some of the games, puzzles and toys are even open to touch, learn and explore. The offerings are appropriate for tykes as young as two and span all the way to teens and grownups. Each of the games is built for fun — and will sharpen your noggin, in the process.
Owner Linda Schmidt (who left a career as a research librarian to open the shop) favors playthings that help you think strategically, race the clock or boost your imagination. You’ll find both old favorites and new discoveries, many imported from Germany, Belgium and beyond. So you might go to pick up a familiar throwback from your own childhood (there is Rubik’s Cube and Labyrinth), but are bound to leave with a fresh find, like the fireworks-themed cooperative card game, Hanabi.
Items are organized by age range. At the front of the shop are goodies for itty-bitties, such as fuzzy-animal hand puppets, wooden Haba developmental toys and more. Dig deeper to find brainteasers for preschoolers, kindergarteners and grade-school kiddos; French card games like Batameuh and Batanimo will be a welcome change from your Spot It routine. And wind your way to the back for strategy games like Settlers of Catan. An island of puzzles in the middle of the store gives you options, from easy floor puzzles to biggies with 5,000 pieces, and has one of the strongest selections of Ravensburger puzzles in town.
Game Nights, Tournaments & Other Extras
Just like the Bucktown location, this West Loop outpost will host Family Game Night, Yo-Yo Lessons and Board Game Tournaments on a regular basis (keep your eyes on the store’s Facebook page for updates). There’s a special section with tables in the back of the store for these happenings, which may pit your family against another for a friendly competition. Or, in other cases, you could show up solo and face off against new friends.
In the near future, Linda will introduce a drop-off after-school program so kids can dig deeper into game playing while Mom and Dad get a little break. Another great perk? Free gift wrapping.
The Store Owner’s Favorite Picks
Linda has analyzed thousands of games and brainteasers in her years of owning Cat & Mouse. Here are the ones she’s raving about now.
For ages 2-3+
Evening in the Stable: One of Haba’s “My Very First Games,” this free-play goodie challenges young ones to put barn animals to bed.
Feed the Woozle: Feed a silly monster 12 snacks before they’re all gone in Peaceable Kingdom’s preschool-appropriate hit.
Spy Tag: Ravensburger’s high-speed card game gives you the goal of chasing down spies before time is up.
DIY Board Games: Assemble your own pieces, add stickers and do some coloring to make games that are uniquely your own with this Chronicle Books kit.
Creature Clash Card Game: Use your imagination to mix and match body parts to create crazy new beings with this Chronicle Books offering.
Sushi Go: Flip cards to make maki rolls or sashimi to become a sushi master when you play this Gamewright game.
Doodle Quest: Blue Orange Games equips you with transparent paper, dry erase pens and stencils to draw your way around obstacles in a race against other players.
Cardline Animals: Using the 100 cards in Asmodee’s game sensation, test your logic and memory skills to compare animal species.
Ready, set … play!
Cat & Mouse Game Store
1112 W. Madison St.
What games has your family gotten hooked on lately? Let us know in the Comments below!
— Kelly Aiglon