A fun and interesting business is landing in Fountain City after 10 years in Knoxville Center Mall. Sci-Fi City is moving into the former location of Fountain City Florist on North Broadway near Fountain City Park.
Store manager Walt Ricketts said that Sci-Fi City has been around for a decade, but the store’s owner, Frank Uchmanowicz, has been in the gaming business, for about 40 years and in Knoxville Center, formerly East Towne Mall, for 20 years. His GameBoard store was purchased by Sci-Fi City and moved into a larger space.
But now that foot traffic in the mall is dwindling, the gaming, comics and memorabilia store is looking to replace foot traffic with car traffic.
“Being inside of a mall, we kind of rely on some foot traffic for people to find us,” Ricketts said. “Most gamers will seek out a gaming store, but for new customers, especially for comics, they don’t know where to go. Where the foot traffic (in the mall) has gone down to a fraction of what it was, over there (on Broadway) there’s going to be tons of traffic going by the store.”
Ricketts also anticipates that Sci-Fi City’s patrons will help boost other Fountain City businesses.
“We have a lot of people who basically hang out at the store,” he said. “It will be another area for them to get to know, with new restaurants and businesses to visit.”
While a casual observer may think that Sci-Fi City is trading a large space for a smaller one, Ricketts said the former flower shop is “twice as big as you think it is. The new location is actually much bigger than the area we have now.”
Remodeling and moving has been slower than anticipated, and they hope to have it done as soon as possible and start moving merchandise in a week or two. So far, the store owners have removed several walls, put down new carpet, installed new ceiling tiles and lighting and remodeled the restrooms. They’re also planning on remodeling the attached greenhouse to become an outdoor gaming space.
Ricketts encouraged everyone to stop in and visit once the new location is open.
“There’s not many places that do both board games and comics,” he said. “In some places it’s more like a clubhouse with only what their employees like, but we have it all. We have pretty much anything you could want, and if we don’t have it in the store we can order it for you. We’ve got the connections.”
According to Ricketts, owners originally considered keeping a smaller store in the mall, “but now we sort of feel like we’re just going to pack up here.”
For more updates, visit the Sci-Fi City Facebook page.