Let’s Go! Dawnstar Video Games Fills Nostalgia Void In Scott’s Addition


Nestled comfortably in a nice pocket of Scott’s Addition is Dawnstar Video Games. It’s beautiful lavender brick exterior with faded toys from various video games and anime is hard to miss. Recently celebrating their third anniversary in 2022, shop owners Dakotah, Andrew and Meaghan describe Dawnstar as a pure passion project, which is evident from the moment you walk in and are greeted with a friendly “Welcome to The Star!”

Dawnstar specializes in second-hand video games and various anime and manga, as well as related collectibles. The team at Dawnstar have been long-time fans of anime and manga since they were kids, and naturally grew up loving video games too. The shop’s nickname, “The Star,” came about from Dakotah selling some of his own Super Nintendo games to Andrew, who is also the owner of Wax Moon Records located in Scott’s Addition.

“One day Dakotah and his lovely fiance Meaghan, my business partner, came into Wax Moon,” said Andrew. “I thought they were really cool, we ended up working at an arcade together, and we just figured let’s open up an anime store together. Dawnstar is the journey of three friends sharing our love of video games and anime with Richmond.”

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Photo of Andrew, Dakotah, and Meaghan courtesy of Dawnstar Video Games

The trio behind Dawnstar Video Games, Dakotah, Andrew, and Meaghan, have always been passionate about customer service and decided to turn their dream of owning a video game store into a reality. They used their own collections to start the store and were thrilled to see that it was an almost overnight success, thanks to the support of the Richmond community.

“We had a line of people the day we opened,” said Andrew. “It was very much Wax Moon that took a while to catch on, whereas Dawnstar was an instant success. We had to do a lot of work to open the space, and we were dragging our feet a little, but in the last three months we really cranked it out. We’re really blessed and there’s nowhere than Richmond we would rather be for Dawnstar Video Games.”

Many older anime and video game fans tend to assume that vintage merchandise or items from hard-to-find series will cost an arm and a leg. However, whether it’s more common anime such as Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z or anime that takes a little more effort to find such as Tenchi Muyo or Revolutionary Girl Utena, the prices across the board tend to remain pretty reasonable. While most items are second-hand, they also carry brand new items such as figures thanks to vendor connections from overseas.

When it comes to what they’re specifically looking for regarding video games, the Dawnstar team remains pretty open-minded. They admit they’re willing to look at anything and give it a chance, even if it’s something such as a retro sports game that generally doesn’t sell as well.

“We take basically everything,” said Dakotah. “Certainly, there are less desirable titles like older sports games, but even those have some desire. Like, say, a wrestling game or NBA Street. There’s some older sports games that people do want. We pay competitive prices and have the fairest trade-ins in town, so bring us your stuff.”

Video games are the main focus of their shop, and it’s evident from the walls lined with video games and paraphernalia to the harder-to-find pieces displayed in the glass counter at the front like an old television that looks straight out of my dad’s Snap-On work van or the Sailor Moon S fighting game for the SNES.

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Photo courtesy of Dawnstar Video Games

One of their claims to fame is their arcade room. Packed with various functioning arcade games imported from Japan, they offer plenty of options and are always adding more. From Hatsune Miku to the aforementioned Sailor Moon S fighting game’s arcade version, it’s easy to spend all day there. And for just $10, you absolutely could.

And on the off chance you are vibing for some spooky pinball, they’ve got you covered too. The Dawnstar team is always on the lookout for new machines to add to the shop. They scour the internet for new pieces, like the elusive Lord of the Rings pinball game that Dakotah has had his eye on, and send each other links to consider, even if it’s not immediately available.

“We also opened up a second arcade over at Wax Moon, which is 100% horror pinball,” said Dakotah. “We just drove all the way to Ithaca for Creature of the Black Lagoon. The farthest we drove for pinball was Akron, OH for Freddy Kreuger and Northern Connecticut for Mario. We were stuck in an awful snowstorm for Freddy’s Nightmare. We drove all the way to Indiana for Initial D, too.”

“Dakotah and I will drive to California and fly to Hawaii if there’s a game we really want,” Andrew said.

The shop may be relatively small, but the Dawnstar team is looking to expand in the future. They host game nights in partnership with other local businesses.

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Photo courtesy of Dawnstar Video Games

Their most popular event is Dawnstar SMASH, hosted by The Answer Brewpub. Every week, anyone can sign up to join the double elimination tournament series for both Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Melee.

They’ve even been able to host this event at The Byrd Theater, where they play the tournament on the big screen. “We did Smash The Byrd this year, which was really cool,” said Dakotah. “Smash is our marquee event, but we’re building other ones. Clash is our fighting games over at Draftcade in Henrico, and Quest is tabletop games we’re doing at Black Heath Meadery across from Wax Moon. It’s very much a community comes to us and experiences the culture here.”

The Dawnstar team also hosts Dawnstar Clash, an FGC tournament series at Draftcade in Henrico featuring games like Street Fighter and Tekken. If video games aren’t your thing, try Dawnstar Quest, their night for Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and tabletop gaming at various rotating venues.

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Photos courtesy of Dawnstar Video Games

With such success and genuine community support from the beginning, it’s easy to be excited about the future of Dawnstar and what they have to offer. So what does the future look like for this favorite trio in the next five years? “We want to expand, we want to grow, and we’re just grateful for the community that has gotten us to where we are today,” said Dakotah. “We hope that more people will find out about us through our smash nights or clash nights or whatever. We just want to bring people around Dawnstar.”

“And a good chunk of our sales just go towards bringing more cool arcade games to Richmond,” Andrew added. “We don’t have any games at home, they’re here and we rotate them from storage.”

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Photo by Ash Griffith

Dawnstar Video Games is located at 1507 Altamont Ave, Richmond, VA 23230 and is open daily from 11a to 7p.

For more information, including how to join their Discord server, visit their website at www.dawnstarvideogames.com.

Ash Griffith

Ash Griffith

Ash is a writer and improviser from Richmond. She has a BA in English from VCU and an associates in Theater. When she isn't writing or screaming on a stage, she can usually be found wherever the coffee is. Bill Murray is her favorite person along with her black cat, Bruce.

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