If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic bolstered, it’s the board game business.
Michael Schulte, marketing manager for Cincinnati-based Late for the Sky, witnessed that increase, especially with the game Anthem-opoly. Based on Monopoly, the game touches on Cave Creek Regional Park, The Tennessee Grill, Peoria Regional Preserve, Agua Fria River, Frontier Town, Cave Creek Museum and the Outlets at Anthem.
“We try and incorporate points of interest, parks and some restaurants,” Schulte said. “There’s a nice mix of everything. We like to include parks and reserves because we know they’ll always be there.”
Schulte said Late for the Sky can create games like this because Monopoly became public domain in the early 1980s. New cities are released weekly.
Anthem-opoly was introduced in 2019, but there’s been a resurgence of talk about it on social media.
“Suddenly, the game is popular again,” he said. “We launched it in 2019, and we’ve been shipping that game pretty regularly since then. It’s been a really successful game for us and for Walmart.”
Anthem was one of the areas Late for the Sky pursued when the program began, Schulte said. The specialty games are created with area Walmart managers, and a local sales representative will suggest locations.
“We’ll do our research as well,” he said. “It’s a group effort.”
Late for the Sky started making specialty board games in the early ’80s with a collegiate theme. From there, it branched to larger cities. The company’s staff didn’t think the business would be as successful as it is.
“As we’ve learned, definitely the smaller cities are just as popular or more than the biggest city games,” Schulte said. “It comes down to civic pride. They’re proud of where they come from. It’s a game we all know and have played in our lifetime. It’s a game that’s about your own town, not Atlantic City or any other one.”