Jake Quintana is a man of many talents. He's a stick juggler, an ordained minister, and a natural-born entrepreneur.
"I used to sell stuff on the side of the road when I was like 7 or 8," he says. "I'd walk around the neighborhood with a bag of things I wanted to sell."
These days, Quintana puts his entrepreneurial nature to work as owner of Popolo's Games, Taos' only game shop. He's been in business for two years, but started out selling art and gift items.
"That was painful; it was really slow," he says. "So I figured, 'I have a shop; I might as well fill it with something I like to do.'" And what Quintana likes to do is game.
"I actually sold all my games to get the shop going," he says. With an X-Box to rent, a free computer to use, and a space in back of the shop to play tabletop games, Popolo's has become a favorite hangout for kids, something Quintana wholeheartedly encourages.
"I was always working with kids, even when I was one," he says. Quintana has worked with the chess team through Taos Youth and Family Center, and has even designed a new version of the game for people who already know advanced chess theory.
"It's kind of evil," he laughs. "It's a completely different style of thinking."
In addition to games, Popolo's sells snacks and drinks and offers a library including items like comic encyclopedias and graphic novels. Quintana enjoys providing a comfortable gathering place for Taos' kids, complete with his "shop pup," Dizzy.
However, Quintana says some boys have stopped coming recently because as they become teenagers, they don't want to seem nerdy.
"But that counteracts sometimes," he says, "because there's the girls that like the nerdy boys." One of the nice things about Popolo's is that it doesn't just promote video games; in fact, Quintana's merchandise mainly consists of card and board games.
He's currently excited about a new card game called Redekai, which just came out this month and isn't even available at most stores yet.
"Everyone's getting into it; I'm getting everyone psyched," he says, adding "It's supposed to be for kids, but everyone who plays it here are mostly adults." The variety of games at Popolo's is mind-boggling.
Card games include such selections as "Poo," a game involving monkeys throwing poo at each other, and another called "Gloom."
"The point of Gloom is to make everyone in your family as unhappy as possible, and make everyone else's family happy," explains Quintana. "The family with the lowest self-worth at the end of the game wins."
There are grab-and-go games for the car, games like HeroClix, which is chesslike and involves superhero figurines, and then there are the role-playing games, like Dungeons and Dragons.
Quintana says they just started playing Pathfinder, a spinoff of D and D, and invites new participants.
Popolo's also offers Magic: The Gathering tournaments every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, and there's no minimum or maximum age for participants, although he does sometimes hold late-night gaming sessions just for adults.
Quintana's only complaint is that because he has to be there seven days a week, he doesn't have time for his other interests.
"On my days off, I game," he jokes.
Susan Carpenter Sims wants to create awareness of the role entrepreneurship plays in our community. To learn about the services available for businesses or make suggestions, call the Taos County Chamber of Commerce at (575) 751-8800.