Worthing board game lounge fighting for survival after opening one month before lockdown

When board game lounge RanSacked opened in Worthing in February, its family owners were expecting a difficult first year as they established themselves.

Sunday, 13th December 2020, 12:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 6:01 pm

The three board game enthusiasts dreamed of creating a community space where friends and strangers could gather round a table and play some games.

But owners Gwynn Rance-Shilbach, Charlotte Rance and Kat Rance-Shilbach could not have predicted a pandemic destroying their entire business model overnight.

Exactly one month after opening, the Portland Road lounge was forced to close and now, nine months later, it is fighting for survival.

Charlotte Rance with Kat and Gwynne Rance-Shilbach SUS-201213-102935001

“It’s heartbreaking, after putting so much effort and so much heart into this,” said Charlotte.

“We started really, really positively and then of course lockdown was a shock, but at the time we thought it was a short-term situation.”

After reopening briefly in the summer and finding some respite through the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, RanSacked has had to close again as customer limits made staying open too costly.

Like many businesses, RanSacked is having to adapt to survive but, unlike conventional hospitality venues, that may involve abandoning its core offering.

RanSacked, Portland Road SUS-201213-102946001

It was warmly received when it opened, offering more than 650 board games in a café serving fresh food, hot drinks and milkshakes.

Space downstairs also accommodated role-playing groups for larger tabletop games.

But that close contact, sociable concept is obsolete in a Covid world and the harsh reality is RanSacked must adapt or die.

Customers can now have board games delivered and Charlotte said they are considering bringing forward membership plans.

Upstairs space, which had been earmarked for two escape rooms, could also be used to allow extra distancing.

For Charlotte and the team, it is about creating a strategy to give them some power over their own destiny.

“Many new businesses fail in their first year, but the biggest frustration is we never even had the chance to fail on our own accord,” she said.

“But we know the idea works and we know the concept works. That gives us a lot of hope. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

To help support RanSacked, follow them on Facebook @ransackedltd, where there are board games for sale and the chance to grow Worthing’s board game community.

A fundraiser has also been set up in support of the lounge, which has already raised more than £1,200. You can contribute here: www.gofundme.com/f/the-ransacked-rescue-fund