That opportunity would come in March 2018 when Lindsley, along with his friend and former military buddy Ben Allred, opened Atomic on Skinner Road in Cypress. Looking through his notes, Lindsley said one clear priority emerged: to be welcoming to everyone who walks in, regardless of who they are or what they like to play.
“A lot of times you’ll go into a hobby store, and the owner thinks he’s the king nerd,” Lindsley said. “A gamer is a gamer. We really want to build our community as strong as it can be.”
The merchandise and gaming community at Atomic spans a wide variety of games, but the largest communities center on the tabletop game Warhammer 40K and the card game Magic: The Gathering, Lindsley said. Prior to opening Atomic, Lindsley and Allred were both involved with the local Warhammer community. After purchasing the storefront, the process of renovating the space was accelerated with help from the community, Lindsley said.“We had people show up with boxes of tools and just start helping us take down walls,” he said. “These were people we had never met before who just wanted to support us in trying to provide a good gaming space.”
At the forefront of the Atomic’s existence, Lindsley and Allred said they faced a tight budget and would donate their own gaming merchandise to help stock the shelves. However, they would eventually becoming one of the fastest-growing Warhammer vendors in the U.S., Lindsley said.
Allred and Lindsley said the sense of brotherhood they developed while serving in the military helps inform how they interact with their customers. Allred said running Atomic has also given them the chance to provide mentorship, especially to some of the younger customers.
Neither owner draws a salary from running Atomic, and both have full-time jobs they attend to in addition to managing the hobby shop. The ability to bring people together has made it all worth it, Allred said.
“We’ve had people who met for the first time at our store who are now living with each other,” he said. “We’ve seen really strong friendships form right here. It’s awesome to know that we played a role in bringing those people together.”