RICHLAND -- Walking into Sunken Treasures Games is like stepping into a green pipe in Super Mario Brothers and walking into a life-sized video game.
That's the impression video gamers will get when they open the doors to the store in Richland's Uptown Shopping Center that opened today.
The walls of the store are colorful, with blue making a background for the main space, while the game room in the back is a bright yellow. And life-size Donkey Kong barrels and gray companion cubes with pink hearts from Portal act as some of the fixtures.
Store owners Sarah and Aaron Cherney said they are hoping to offer an experience to those who walk through their doors in a place where someone can find the newest, latest games such as Halo and older favorites such as Mario Kart and games for systems from Super Nintendo to the Wii.
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There are five different game systems where customers can test out games, and tables in the game room that the Cherneys hope to see become a popular hangout for teens and adults, as well as the site of Magic card tournaments.
It's hard to believe that the entire inventory of the store, from Magic cards to the 1,800 different video games, once fit in the Cherneys' Richland apartment. But the couple, who are 28, said that's part of why they were able to start their own business. They already had the inventory.
Opening a video game store has been a dream for Sarah and Aaron Cherney, who have worked in retail for years, including at video game stores.
Sarah Cherney most recently managed Nielsen's Art & Video Games in the Uptown, which is closing because the owner is retiring.
Aaron Cherney said they tried to purchase a store about eight years ago, but that didn't work out.
Now, Aaron Cherney said, his job as a radiological control technician with CH2M Hill at Hanford has helped the couple come up with the finances to start their own business.
And with space opening up at the Uptown Shopping Center where a yarn store used to be, the time seemed right. Sarah Cherney said they have put the store together in about three weeks, with the support and help of friends and family. They are trying to create a store like they've wanted to see, but haven't.
Sarah Cherney said she knew she could run her own business after helping her mother, who was a small-business owner. And Aaron Cherney said he has been hooked on retail since he sold baseball and basketball cards at his mother's garage sales.
Video games seemed a natural fit for both, since it's a passion.
"I've been surrounded by video games my whole life," said Aaron Cherney.
Sunken Treasures Games isn't just about video games. Sarah Cherney said they also carry Magic cards and anime, and hope to add other popular card games such as Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!. They also will be adding new video games as the store grows.
And while they will host Magic card tournaments, the Cherneys said they plan to schedule them for days when Adventures Underground doesn't already have them.
Sarah Cherney will manage the store with one part-time employee, while Aaron Cherney will continue working at Hanford and spend his free time at the store.
Sarah Cherney said part of what they are aiming to do is create a comfortable place.
"We want people to feel welcome," she said.
And those who have questions about how to beat the current level of a video game such as God of War, or what one of their video gamer relatives or friends would like for a gift can find an answer by asking either of the owners.
* Sunken Treasures Games is at 1341 B George Washington Way in Richland. It's in the breezeway of the Uptown across from the Uptown Vision Center and next to Talk of the Town Hair Design.
* It is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
* Call 943-4564 for more information.