BEAVERCREEK — Steve Nordmeyer likes to look at life like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Figuring out where all the pieces fit, over time, makes it all a little more enjoyable, he said.
It was in early February of this year when one of the biggest pieces to Nordmeyer’s puzzle landed in his lap – in the form of a coupon that changed he and his wife, Lisa’s, lives forever.
“We got a coupon in the mail saying the store (Puzzle Plus) had a 50 percent off closing sale,” he said last week, amid the busy shuffle ensuing the couple’s purchasing of the 22-year-old business. “We were sitting around watching TV. I am flipping through the coupons. She might’ve been reading the paper. I said: ‘Look they’re closing Puzzles Plus.’ We just knew we had to get in touch with them.”
The following day, the Nordmeyers said they were there talking to Nancy Gazzerro, who owned the store with her daughters – Angela Hertzberg and Teresa Walter – who were getting out of the business to spend time with their respective new and growing families with children of their own.
“The next day we got the ball rolling,” he said. “We told her we were interested. She gave us information… It turns out he store has been profitable all the time. They were closing because it was more important for them to be home.”
The Nordmeyers found irony in this. About six years ago when the founding owner sold the place to the sisters, they had considered buying it then but had daughters of their own who were still in school – making a purchase then out of the question. Those daughters have since graduated, and moved on to college, making the transition today possible.
Puzzle Plus, located in a shopping plaza near downtown Beavercreek, at 1273 N. Fairfield Road, originally opened in April of 1995, by Bob Woodruff – who modeled the store after one he saw much like it while traveling in Australia.
Although the store specializes in hundreds of different types of jigsaw puzzles in its 1,500-square-foot space, it also offers an expanding list of games, toys, brain teasers, puzzling magazines and workbooks – all family-related stuff that incorporates education in fun and subtle ways.
Additionally, the Nordmeyers will continue a puzzle framing service previously offered there in addition to a new puzzle buy-back program for charity.
“We’ve had tremendous support from the previous owners,” Nordmeyer said. “They’ve helped us every step of the way to reopen the store.”
The Nordmeyers said they’ve always done tons of puzzle-oriented things as a family, such as trivia nights and scavenger hunts.
“For the schools, we run Amazing Race-style events,” he said. “If you’ve ever seen the show; we’ve been doing something like that for the middle school and high school for seven or eight years.”
The Nordmeyers are firm believers in making education fun, looking for unique games that challenge the mind and help develop social and logic skills. In essence, the couple says they want to “sneak in the educational part, so that children do not necessarily realize they are learning from it.”
Additionally, the couple plans to make or print custom puzzles – but that’s a couple months away.
“I will be doing this along with my current job as a computer engineer, making military radios,” Mr. Nordmeyer said. “She will run the store during the day, and when I get off work I will help her in the evenings… She loves her job as a personal care aid in the mornings, helping senior citizens who need a little bit of assistance.”
The couple currently plans to re-open the store, after what will be a six-week temporary closure, on March 25. An actual ribbon cutting ceremony with the Chamber of Commerce will likely take place in April. They would like that event to coincide with a fundraiser.
“We would like to have a puzzle contest — with teams from the high school, the middle school, as many groups as possible – and raise money for a charity all rolled into one big event,” Mr. Nordmeyer said. “We will have pizza for people.”
Also, as part of their new buy-back program, customers will be able to bring puzzles back to them with their receipt and use it as credit for new puzzles. Those used puzzles, Nordmeyer said, will be donated to schools, prisons and shelters.
“Giving back is huge,” he said. “Service is really important – giving back to the community – helping the people who are in more troubled positions.”
From all the numbers the Nordmeyers have seen, puzzles have been 75 percent of the business at the store. However, finding new, interesting and uniquely fun – yet educational – items will be an exciting challenge for them.
Nordmeyer said, “We like to have fun. We really love this store and we didn’t want it to leave Beavercreek, so this timed out perfectly.”
Puzzle Plus is located 1273 N. Fairfield Road and is open 12-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Closed Sundays and Mondays. For more information, email the store at: email@example.com.
Brian Evans is a freelance journalist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.