Are you someone who enjoys the fun competition, excitement, and laughter that comes with playing classic games like Monopoly, Chess, Checkers, Dominoes, or even Spades with family and friends? If so, look no further than The Play Parlor, a new facility located in Lawrenceville, GA, that is rapidly becoming the go-to social venue for board game enthusiasts who want to interact with other gamers.
Founded by entrepreneur and healthcare professional Tiffany “Shug” Welch, The Play Parlor was opened after the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2022. However, in less than a year, the family-friendly business has attracted visitors from across the Atlanta metropolitan area eager to experience the family reunion-type energy. Throughout the month, various events take place, from Chess, Pool, and Spades tournaments to Bingo Night. The Play Parlor also hosts karaoke, improv, and comedy nights, in addition to special events for kids.
While the venue is certainly a place to relax or let loose and unwind, Welch was inspired to open the facility for a more important reason.
“I created The Play Parlor for the community to have the opportunity to play games in a creative space that prioritizes mental, emotional and physical health. Whether you’re competing through a game of cards, hosting a party, or having a fun date night, we have private rooms and a variety of game playing options for our guests to enjoy,” Welch said. “We are also partnering with organizations, school programs, and have hours specifically designed for our special needs and autistic community. There’s no other recreational facility in the area that is doing what we are doing.”
Welch, a wife and mother of four, has been a veteran in family medicine for over 20 years. For ten years, she contributed as a public servant in community medicine (mental health) and has also served the National Health Service Corp. Particularly during the pandemic, she witnessed the growing addiction to technology in young people. Both youth and adults were largely confined to their homes, missing out on socialization and outlets to release stress and cultivate relationships.
According to the AARP Bulletin, today’s generation is the most anxious in history, as depression rates have soared. The CDC indicates that nearly 1 in 10 high school students have tried taking their own life in the past twelve months. People are consumed with “smart” devices, social media apps, and short-form content that leads to addiction, short attention spans, and an aversion to authentic human interaction. Not to mention, the trend has created isolation and division. Welch wants to play her role in reversing that trend, pun intended.
“We at The Play Parlor are intentional about meeting the needs of the community,” said Welch. “Research suggests that play can be an effective mental health tool regardless of age, gender or mental health status because it has a positive effect on our serotonin and dopamine levels.”
Reception from the local community has been tremendous as the Play Parlor approaches its one-year anniversary on December 2nd. On that day, the venue will have a celebration starting at 2 p.m. with vendors, speakers, performances, games, and food. Community leaders and influencers are expected to be in attendance. After that, the next priority for Welch is growth and expansion.
“I want The Play Parlor to become a Franchise,” she said. “The location in downtown Lawrenceville will be the first of many to come. The board gaming market is something that is growing and more people are starting to realize the value and the benefits of it. We want to be a leader in this trend.”
For more information about The Play Parlor, visit the website.