Warrnambool is fast becoming a bastion for fantasy model-makers, card-traders and board game enthusiasts from all walks of life across the south-west.
When R.N.G Tabletop Gaming owner Jai Ceratops opened his 'niche' shop just five months ago, he never expected the level of interest he would receive from the wider community.
"There's been a huge demand," he said.
"It's definitely exploded for sure. Our board games are selling pretty well and consistently, but most people in my store's community are buying trading card games."
He said he'd seen a 30 per cent increase in sales between March and April, but it was a level of growth seen across the nation since COVID-19 lockdowns were first introduced.
"My suppliers mentioned they couldn't even keep up with the demand. At one point they said they had a seven-day delay on all of their orders because there were so many people ordering stuff for their stores."
He said locked-down residents from all walks of life began showing interest in the "stereotypically nerdy" hobby when they were finding ways to pass the time while staying at home.
"When a lockdown is announced, I usually get a few people popping in and saying 'I want something to do during lockdown'," he said.
"They're usually after board games to play with the family, whereas trading card games are very much a social meet-up thing."
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Dedicated gamers in Warrnambool have access to a multitude of social and competitive meet-ups, including those organised by Warrnambool Tabletop, a Facebook group nearing 500 members.
R.N.G hosts its own events, including Magic: The Gathering on Fridays, Yu-Gi-Oh! on Saturdays and a Dungeons & Dragons night on Wednesdays.
But the shop is also piloting a regular board-game meetup, aimed at newcomers in the hopes it will help them break through stereotypes about gamers.
C.W Tabletop-Games owner Craig Walmsley said the spike in interest could be attributed to a diversified pool of customers.
"There's a huge interest," he said.
"There's no real demographic, it's just everyone. All different ages with different jobs - it's all over the place.
"There's one guy who comes in and gets Warhammer models, he doesn't play but he likes to make dioramas - the stuff he does is incredible, but if you saw him you wouldn't expect that's what he does because he's a bodybuilder."
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