WATERLOO — Uproar, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a state of commotion, excitement or violent disturbance.”
Synonyms are commotion, disturbance, furor, hullabaloo, pandemonium, ruckus and tumult.
Chad Hoff wants to create a non-violent “uproar” in downtown Waterloo, generating excitement within the growing gaming community.
Fulfilling a dream, Hoff opened Uproar Gaming in the old Tally Ho Sporting Goods store at 8 W. Main St. on Aug. 4, 2018. For older folks, the location once housed Delamarter’s, a popular teen hangout spot in the 1960s.
The business leases two floors of the building to offer board games, video games and Virtual Reality experiences for young children to adults, although most patrons are high schoolers to those in their 20s and 30s.
“People can come play competitively or casually,” Hoff said. “We have a variety of tabletop card and board games, PlayStation4 consoles and two upstairs rooms dedicated to Virtual Reality gaming. We also have a room for kids to play some of the original video games like Super Mario, Pac Mac and Space Invaders.”
Seneca Falls natives Hoff and Jon Prosser started and run the business.
Hoff has been a long-time gamer who made a living managing storage facilities for 18 years before fulfilling a dream and opening Uproar.
“Jon and I looked all over from Camillus to Geneva for a location. We really wanted to stay close to the Seneca Falls-Waterloo area because we wanted to give young people around here something to do,” Hoff said.
He said when Tally Ho closed, the owner agreed to lease it to Hoff and Prosser.
“The village has been great. We got a micro-enterprise assistance grant, which was crucial to getting open and we’re happy here,” Hoff said. “We have card games, board game, video games and Virtual Reality units. We have leagues, tournaments and encourage a gamer to come in and play casually. The video games are charged by the hour. Card and board games are free. We sell board and card games and people can bring them in.”
Playing virtual realty games, which allow a player to be transformed from the second-floor room to numerous venues and scenarios just like they were there in person, is more costly than video games to play.
Mindcraft and Call of Duty are some of the video games available on the store’s nine PlayStation 4s.
“We have an area where some of the older games that people may have grown up with such as Nintendo and Sega are set up,” Hoff said.
The leagues feature standings and entrance fees are paid out as prize money for winners.
“Business has been good. We’re busiest on weekends when kids are not in school. We’ve benefited from word of mouth from happy customers,” Hoff said.
The two owners spent several thousand dollars to renovate the building, helped by Chad’s electrician father.
Hoff, 34, and Prosser, 36, are both self-described “big -ime gamers since high school.”
Gamers get hungry and thirsty. Uproar offers snacks, candy, soda and other non-alcoholic drinks. Hoff said he has a deal with Pat’s Pizza in Waterloo to provide pizza for large groups on weekends, and when the Corner Deli and Bakery opens in downtown Waterloo, Hoff plans to have more food items to sell.
“This has been my dream. I’m using my work experience to work in my own gaming business,” Hoff said.
In the works is Waterloo High School art students of teacher Sarah Carey painting murals for the interior walls of Uproar. Hoff hopes to get permission to replace the purple exterior with silver and black colors. He said the closing of gaming centers in Auburn and Geneva leaves gamers with Uproar as a good, less expensive option than Rochester and Syracuse sites.
“We think we offer a nice, friendly atmosphere.”
Steve Talbot of Auburn agrees. He goes to Uproar three or four times a week.
“The variety and number of games is what drew me,” he said. “They have a great staff and it’s a very vibrant, welcoming community. I’m comfortable here.”
Hoff said he’d like to eventually buy the building from owner Donna McDonald, and he’s working on gaming tournaments to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network and the Golisano Children’s Hospital.
“No regrets opening this business here,” Hoff said. “I’m confident we will grow.”