DeKALB – A mere seven months lapsed between the time Philip Henrikson was fired from his job at a local gaming store to becoming a franchise owner of the same business.
With a little orange paint, a miniature refrigerator stocked with energy drinks, and a supply of table-top games, Henrikson, 20, began living his dream at The Gaming Goat in DeKalb, he said.
“In some ways I was prepared for it, but in many, many more ways I wasn’t,” Henrikson said.
He began as a teenage employee at The Gaming Goat’s former location at 311 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb, but a conflict with one of his managers left Henrikson temporarily unemployed, he said.
“They didn’t really know me,” he said. “They thought I was just some kid.”
Henrikson was offered his job back when, in his absence, management realized how much weight he had pulled, and that firing him might have been a mistake, he said. He happily returned to the store, and eventually, accepted an offer to become its franchise owner.
“It’s funny,” he said. “We’ve come a long way.”
This satisfied a driving force within Henrikson that had been telling him to own a business since he was a kid, he said.
“When I was 5, my dad died and he owned Ax in Hand,” Henrikson said. “Something made itself up in my mind that I had to be a great businessman.”
On July 1, Henrikson reopened The Gaming Goat at its new location, 229 E. Lincoln Highway – just across the street from where his father, Larry Henrikson, opened his first store as a 20-year-old entrepreneur in 1964.
His father’s business began as Larry Henrikson’s Guitar Studio, eventually evolving into Ax in Hand, a vintage guitar shop that would attract famous artists and collectors alike from across the world, Henrikson said.
“It was really important to hear that he had very strong integrity. He always looked out for the customer,” he said.
“He would give people massive discounts just because he knew it would make a difference in their lives.”
Henrikson has followed his dad’s business model, and tries to take pride in his customers by offering free gaming in the store, discounted merchandise and a camaraderie with his customers, who often become friends, he sad.
“To live up to what he accomplished, that would be a dream,” he said.