Welcome to the town of La Crosse, WI. The first written record of the site happens in 1805 by LT. Zebulon Pike (of Pikes Peak fame/infamy) and La Crosse was officially incorporated as a city in 1856. Located along the Mississippi River directly on the Wisconsin - Minnesota border La Crosse, at least according to Wikipedia, is indeed named after the sport. It is also home to the University of Wisconson-La Crosse. But you probably don't care about any of that. What you want to know is what this town has to offer for a geek like you. OK ok... geez you are pushy. Well from what I found there are three geek stores in La Crosse that can scratch that itch. So lets get to it.
This is your run of the mill video game store that has 7 locations around Wisconsin. The La Crosse branch has used games ranging from the NES forward, consoles, some DVD's, game related plush toys and random accessories. They also repair gaming systems just in case some damage should befall yours (god forbid). The staff that was on hand was very friendly and had a stream of The Elder Scrolls Online running on a big screen in the store. This made for some interesting conversation for a few minutes while we talked about the game. Lastly this location is in the midst of setting up a gaming room in the back of the store, but as of my visit it was still in the early stages of construction. If you are looking to get some video games and want to avoid the big chains this is a good alternative.
River City Hobbies is a local gaming store located in Downtown La Crosse. My first impression was that it very nice store. It has a nice size to it and is very clean. They manage to have a lot of selection without the store feeling cluttered. This is a great location to visit if you have any geeky habits. They have a great collection of comic trades sharing a great selection of toys and collectibles. The other side of the store has a plethora of board games, D&D books, Warhammer 40K, DVD's and a selection of mostly used video games. They even have a selection of darts and disc golf equipment to mix things up. Finally they have a great collection of game expansions, MTG cards, and dice in the front cabinets near the checkout. OK, so dice and MTG cards are almost always located is in glass cabinets near the register, but that is because it works people!
My interaction with the staff was also extremely pleasant. They are not pushy, easily approachable and nice to talk to. The gentleman I was talking to informed me that in the downstairs gaming room they were running a Pokémon CCG night and once that wrapped it they were going to transition to D&D. Since they had an entire second level to play games I decided to check it out. Looking around they had 12 gaming tables setup for the different groups. It was nice that it was separate from the main space. It allowed the people playing games to have their own space to create a community and still allowing the store area to not be over-run making browsing enjoyable. This means they can have a big event downstairs without making the store feel crowded. To me this is an important feature of stores with gaming sections. Overall this is a great store that all ages can enjoy (and were enjoying).
The last place that I checked out was Deaf Ear Records. Located about a block and 1/2 way from River City Hobbies this is another great geeky location with an added bonuses for audiophiles. When you walk in you are greeted with comics, both trade and issues, CDs and DVDs. Walking further back you find Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, and board games. Once you reach the rear of the store you discover older collectibles (they had a pretty cool AT-AT), vinyl records, and record players. Finally, again, in the glass cabinets near the register you can find MTG cards, loose and new, dice and to change things up a large assortment of piercings. Deaf Ear Records does have a second level that is a smoke shop so I can't say that I ventured there. This means that if you come with kids you will want to stay to the first floor, but it is a great store, with again friendly staff.