• Leader & Times
There are many shops across the U.S. and internationally for those interested in card games and recently, one more cut the ribbon right in Liberal.
Fire Heart Games, located at 1010 S. Kansas in the Southgate Mall, has been open since the beginning of the year and as owner Kevin Altamirano tells it, its beginnings were a long time in the making.
“Ever since about the 1990s there have been different trading card games like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh!, which I actually got into when I was little because I watched the show and played that with my friends after school,” Altamirano said. “Then I graduated in 2013 my cousin Irving started a Yu-Gi-Oh! club at the high school and that’s where I met a bunch of other people who played and we’ve been getting together for that ever since. Eventually we decided to go all in and then we found a spot here at the Southgate Mall. I believe there’s a trading card game out there for everyone, you just have to look for it.”
The store sells all types of trading card games including Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon and VanGuard and a Final Fantasy game that came out a couple years ago, among many others. The store is open Sundays from 3 to 10 p.m., Mondays and Tuesdays from 5 to 10 p.m., closed Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fridays from 5 p.m. to midnight and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to midnight. And since being open, Altamirano said, things have been going great at the store.
“It’s been pretty interesting because there are mostly a lot of people just poking their heads into the mall to see if there’s anyone besides us and all of us would love to see different types of shops here in the mall again and bring more life back in here,” Altamirano said. “It’s been great having an official place where everyone knows what times we’re open and can pop their heads in when they want. Since we became an official tournament store for various games, we’ve had players from Garden City, Guymon, Oklahoma and Hugoton come that far to play because aside from us, the next closest game shop is in Amarillo, Texas or Wichita. If you’ve never played some of these games, we have people here who are more than willing to teach you, so come and give it a shot.”
And, Altamirano said, the store gives people in the community another activity.
“I love how it’s another thing for people to do in Liberal. When I was younger and started getting interested in some of these trading card games Hastings was really the only place that hosted tournaments Tuesday nights,” Altamirano said. “My friends and I had no idea what we were doing but we knew we were having a great time and it’s all about having fun, it’s for all ages. It’s great seeing some of the older players passing the baton to younger players.”
Altamirano is also currently employed with the Liberal Fire Department and talked about how those two worlds connect.
“Something that’s been really awesome about the fire department is how even though I’m kind of the oddball out, the guys have learned I love this type of stuff,” Altamirano said with a chuckle. “Firefighting’s been my passion since high school – I went to high school in Miami and I studied firefighting as my strand and I moved back here when a friend of mine told me about an EMT class that was going on at the college and it’s been awesome since. I’ve even taught a couple guys in the department how to play some of the games.”
Overall, Altamirano said, he is excited for the future of the store.
“If you’re a gamer at heart, even if you don’t do trading card games, we always try to have video game tournaments on Sundays and the biggest one we’ve done so far was with Super Smash Brothers” Altamirano said. “We’ve also done Fortnite tournaments. So if you have even a bit of interest, come and play and have a good time.”