Nestled across from the Davidson College campus on Main Street is outdoor-retailer-meets-hometown-general-store Davidson Provision Company (@davproco on the gram). It opened its doors this past December and sells everything from local-made products to emerging outdoor brands to camping gear. Drive by, and you can usually see two people sitting out front at a small table table for two. They're playing chess. But they didn't bring their own set. The owner of the store, Matt Santos, always sets the board up outside for whoever wants to play–given it's decent chess weather...
Recently, people have started to love chess like a fat kid loves cake. The millennium-and-a-half-old game has seen a revival thanks to Netflix's The Queen's Gambit. It depicts a young female chess prodigy's rise to fame, diving deep into her internal struggles as she wrestles with addiction spurring from a traumatic childhood, and the expectations that accompany being touted a genius. Quickly after the show's release, Beth Harmon had everyone and their mother wanting to play chess. Nothing gives you an adrenaline rush like pushing a pawn to D4. Chess set sales and chess book sales spiked as more and more people binged the show, and the chess industry is still riding high from its time in the spotlight.
It's hard not to get fired up when it comes to the Davidson Provision Company. There's just something electric about someone having the testicular fortitude to open a brick-and-mortar store during a pandemic. And what's even more awesome than having huge cojones is turning an idea into reality. Santos said he has always pictured a general store where people would sit out front and play a game. Now, people sit outside his store and play chess. Let's freaking go.
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