Downtown London - News

January 2019

  • Uber Cool continues to make geek culture cool

    January 25, 2019

    Uber Cool continues to make geek culture cool


    By Sean Meyer


    Kayla Gibbens has faced a number of challenges since purchasing one of downtown London’s most geek-centric businesses, but she still enjoys every smile that comes from the supporters who have embraced it.


    Uber Cool Stuff opened at 122 Dundas St. more than seven years ago with Kayla purchasing it from her former boss and store founder Chris McInnis some two years ago.


    “I worked here and I loved it; I loved the atmosphere,” she said. “When I found out it was going to be up for sale, I knew it was an opportunity I could not pass up. I knew I had to pull every string I had to own the store. It’s still terrifying, but also amazing. It also keeps me extremely busy.”


    Kayla refers to the store as “the unique geek boutique,” specializing in board games, housewares, giftwares and kitchenwares, anything funky or — as she describes it somewhat tongue-in-cheek — “just uber cool stuff.”


    A store like Uber Cool would understandably have a clientele with a very particular mindset, which is something Kayla said she recognized from her first day in the store.


    At that time, she recalls, both Chris and the geek community at large welcomed her in. That acceptance made sense as the store featured items Kayla readily admits are “right up my alley.”


    Her connection to that community is something she credits with helping to continue pushing Uber Cool forward.


    “We were the weird kids, the outcasts of our schools, and it was, ‘Oh there are more of us and we like cool stuff together,’” she said. “It was just kind of perfect. Having places like this tell us you can come here and find the things you always wanted and meet new people who like the same things. We are all super lame and super awesome all together and we come together to hang out.”


    As a small business owner with a team of, “one full-time, one part-time and one casual,” behind her, Kayla understandably works a lot of hours. And just to add to that pressure, she also envisions one day opening a second Uber Cool location or perhaps a café as well.


    That said, she acknowledges taking time for herself is important.


    As one might expect from a self-professed lover of all things geek, Kayla plays board games and video games in her spare time. Her favourite form of relaxation, however, involves going home, putting her feet up, and playing with her two cats and pair of hedgehogs. 


    One day she would like to get away to Japan and “build some connections out there.” 


    For now, however, her love for the store and its community allow her to embrace even the most difficult days.


    Months of construction at the new Fanshawe College campus and along the partially completed Dundas Place created challenges, but Kayla said she likes the direction the core is headed in. That the city is striving to improve the downtown, “to make it more of a hub,” is something she fully supports. 


    Kayla is quick to add success isn’t simply dollars and cents on a balance sheet.


    In fact, one of those measures is the amount of laughter she hears in a given day.


    “I love having people come in and just be happy. When you hear that giggle in the corner because they found something, it really feels good,” she said. “There is a giant avocado in our store right now, so I make the horrible pun, you can avocuddle. You hear people come in and love the space and that’s the best part, it makes everything worthwhile.”


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