Boxes & Bears

You might feel like you’re just passing time when playing a game or working on a puzzle, but there are other cognitive functions at work. In many board games, players work on a variety of skills including logic, memory, deduction, math, planning, and sportsmanship. Playing games in a group setting helps strengthen social bonds. Ask anyone who’s ever enjoyed a game of Cards Against Humanity. Historical or fact-based games like Trivial Pursuit can educate players, while working on a puzzle boosts problem-solving skills.

So you’re really passing time, but in a productive way. Dianne Moritz, owner of Boxes & Bears in Anacortes, knows all this and more. “People are really concerned with what’s going on in the world right now, so board games and puzzles are a good diversion.” Not only does Moritz enjoy games and puzzles, but she built her business based on customer demands.

Moritz is a retired federal worker who wanted to fulfill a desire to be a shopkeeper, so she opened an antique shop specializing in antique boxes and stuffed bears. One day a customer inquired about buying a jigsaw puzzle, which Moritz didn’t have in stock but ordered for him.

Then other customers began asking for board games. It was an easy decision to special-order products. She began to “keep an eye on what people are asking for.” Slowly the antique boxes and bears were replaced with board games and puzzles.

About a year and a half ago Anacortes native John Van Deusen stopped in. He was shifting career gears after playing in a band for almost a decade. Moritz had known Van Deusen for some time and jokingly offered him a job. She thought he was just being funny when he said yes. Turned out he was serious. Today, Van Deusen is the manager of Boxes & Bears and is routinely lauded for his excellent customer service. The duo has made the store a welcoming place, chock-full of every game imaginable.

The open floor plan makes it easy for patrons to locate a desired item. Games and puzzles are neatly stacked on perimeter shelving with smaller displays scattered around the store. If you want classic playing cards, choose from standard red- or blue-backed or perhaps cards printed with puppies or kittens. On the game shelves you’ll find all your favorite classics: Monopoly, Parcheesi, Clue, dominoes, and Trivial Pursuit, to name a few. Catan and Risk line multiple shelves alongside Magic: The Gathering cards, a popular game produced in Renton. Magic is so popular, in fact, that the store hosts a weekly Magic: The Gathering event where players ranging in age from preteen to 40-plus come together. Moritz hosts the event, provides the cards, and sometimes even prizes. The Magic events became so enjoyable, she began hosting more events where players could choose other games to play. It’s a laid-back gathering intended for participants to socialize and have fun playing a game or two.

Caddy-corner from the game section is the puzzle area. Puzzle enthusiasts won’t get bored with the various sizes and prints. You can work on an enchanted forest puzzle, Seattle skyline puzzle, or even a graphic resembling a drawer that could be an “I Spy” picture. Check out the wooden 3D puzzles and Rubik Cubes, or trendy coloring books perfect for relaxing after a busy week. During tourist season Moritz stocks up on portable games as well. The kid’s section appeals to young gamers and those more interested in toys. There are a few dinosaur figurines, match cars, and Beanie Babies stacked alongside age-appropriate games like Operation and Apples to Apples. Finally, remaining true to the store’s roots, take a look at the beautiful carved wooden boxes from Poland’s Tatra Mountain Region, and a few plush bears scattered throughout the store.

But just in case you can’t find what you’re looking for, Moritz and Van Deusen will place a special order. After all, Moritz’s goal with Boxes & Bears is to “provide a place for people to find games and socialize with each other.”

709 Commercial Ave., Anacortes

360.299.9593 |

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"In many board games, players work on a variety of skills including logic, memory, deduction, math, planning, and sportsmanship. "