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Spending on games and hobbies is up as consumers prepare to hunker down for fall

Stephanie Hughes Aug 31, 2023
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Ethan Childs, left, and Imani White play Magic the Gathering at Canton Games in Baltimore. Games are part of how they socialize. Stephanie Hughes/Marketplace

Spending on games and hobbies is up as consumers prepare to hunker down for fall

Stephanie Hughes Aug 31, 2023
Heard on:
Ethan Childs, left, and Imani White play Magic the Gathering at Canton Games in Baltimore. Games are part of how they socialize. Stephanie Hughes/Marketplace
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The increase in real PCE reflected a .9% jump in spending on goods in July. A big contributor to that rise was a hike in spending on games, toys and hobbies. After a summer of spending on travel and concerts, it seems people are putting money toward things that offer a way to connect with others.  

Take Imani White and Ethan Childs, who popped into Canton Games in Baltimore on Thursday. They’ve come not only to shop but to play a game of Magic: the Gathering.  

“You can mulligan again,” Childs said. “I’m not going to mulligan again,” said White. The two are planning to buy some new Magic cards too.

Childs said he spends about $500 a year on the games. “Obviously, it’s not a small number.”

“But it’s a hobby that you love. It’s a safe hobby,” said White. “We also play it socially. It’s not like you’re hoarding all these cards.”

Canton Games also sells vintage video games and boutique board games, like Baltimore-opoly.

Lindsay Farrell, who works there, said that she sees a bump in business any time a big storm is forecast and people know they’ll be together.

“I’ve heard we’re going to get a wet winter so I’m anticipating a lot of people coming in — ‘What can I play with no lights on?’ — that sort of thing,” she said.

A few blocks over at Tochterman’s Fishing Tackle, customers bond with salespeople about the best spots to find rockfish in Baltimore come winter.

A customer looks at gear at Tochterman’s Fishing Tackle in Baltimore.
A customer looks at gear at Tochterman’s Fishing Tackle in Baltimore. (Stephanie Hughes/Marketplace)

One of the store’s owners, Tony Tochterman said that sales aren’t as crazy as two years ago. But these days, about a third of his clientele are sharing the hobby with their families.

“The grandparents are coming in here to buy their grandchildren their outfits,” he said.

Just a street over, at Luann Carra’s gallery, art is for sale, including a life-size mosaic mermaid she created, displayed in a room with sounds of the seashore.  

There are also classes in mosaic making, figure drawing, even yoga. And Carra expects participation to go up now that summer’s ending.

“Everybody’s starting to go in, energetically and just relax a little bit,” she said. “And that’s the time when people want to take classes and make gifts for people.”

And Carra said, just spend time with each other.

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