Coy Christmas- Brag Game Rights
“I am by no means your normal businessman. I’ve done more things the wrong way…”
There’s definitely nothing typical about Coy Christmas. Not his name, not his life experiences, and as the owner of Brag Game Rights in Duluth—not his occupation.
Brag Game Rights sells a lot of video games, but it’s much more than just a retail outlet. The walls are splashed with colorful murals- some featuring characters from popular games-- and toward the back of the space, there’s a separate area with 20 individual spaces where gamers can settle in for some virtual action or play against friends.
“It’s like a high-tech, futuristic arcade; [years ago] you couldn’t take arcade games home. Now you can,” says Christmas.
Coy grew up a military kid, living across the country and around the globe. Now 33, he refers wistfully to his time at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, where he attended college until a faulty ticker and related medical problems put a crimp in his plans for higher education.
“I’ve had several heart surgeries,” he explains, “When I had to leave school, I didn’t know what I was going to do... I went to California and got into sales.”
Life eventually found Coy a single parent to his six-month-old son, also his namesake.
“I was 2,000 miles from my family, all on my own. Sometimes I had to bring him with me [on sales calls].”
He raised his son on his own until he met his future wife, Alex, who hailed from Superior. This guy gets serious points- he remembers the date, (April 24, 2002), that he met his future Mrs. at a Red Lobster in Panama City. As for so many, Cupid’s arrow speared Christmas, leading him to the Twin Ports, Alex’s family, and a new direction.
“I had worked in copier sales for eight years… I decided I wanted to do something else."
After mountains of research and miles of footwork, Brag Game Rights was born. Opened on August 23rd, 2008, the store sits directly across from the Burning Tree Plaza, and in the vicinity of a lot of road construction. It hasn’t been a cakewalk, Christmas admits of his experience in starting a new business.
“I’m stressed out all the time, but it’s a good kind of stress. It’s happy stress. I love [my work]. I absolutely love it.”
An impassioned business owner, Christmas has plenty of advice budding local entrepreneurs:
“All those things they teach you in school, you can forget them… Weigh everything out. Double your expected cts and halve your profits. If you plan to work sixty hours, expect to work a hundred-and-twenty. Keep working hard, keep to your word, and when things are toughest, work twice as hard.”
So how does he feel about planting his feet in the region, living in Superior and working in Duluth?
“Duluth is one of the most interesting towns. It has a totally different mindset…The pace of life slower. People are definitely really nice [in the Twin Ports]. It’s homey, it’s non-violent, it’s really clean. That’s why people come here.”
Christmas sees great potential in the region, but believes that it will come only after some significant “growing pains”.
“We need a big technology business up here… blue collar workers are very important, but we can’t make the world go around with just them. We have to work together. We have to think about what we can do to spark up the economy… I’d really like to have a quality assurance facility here."
While society often regards the clash of generations as a major point of friction in the changing world of business, Coy sees the successful collaboration of older and younger generations as critical to both community and individual success.
“I’ve met some people who have been really successful, and they’ve given me really good advice. Young people have to slow down… Open up their vision...Take a deep breath and look at things from older people’s perspectives."
So what’s next for this soccer coach, father, husband, and business owner? He’s attending the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, where he’ll be showing off his latest entrepreneurial endeavor, the “IntensaFIRE”, a rapid-fire controller mod for the Xbox 360 that’s already generating a lot of buzz. He’s also looking forward to getting his hands on a copy of the yet-unreleased Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic KotOR 3 game.
“I’m going to be geeking out on that.”
Whatever he does, he’ll be lead by the wisdom he holds highest--the Ethic of Reciprocity from Leviticus, which he has tattooed on the underside of his forearm.
“The Golden Rule. Treat others good if you want anything back—that karma thing.”
In life, if a challenge requires character, kindness, and hard work, Coy Christmas is totally game.
Family: Wife Alex, son Coy, 9, and daughter Hadley, 7 weeks. The proud husband and father is happy to prove that he has pictures of them all on his cell.
Hometown: Born in Eugene, Oregon, this self-proclaimed “Air Force Brat” has also called Alaska, Alabama, California, Florida, Kansas, New Mexico, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Germany, and Saudi Arabia home!
“In all the places I’ve lived, it seems like something amazing has happened.”
Education: Coy attended Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee until heart problems sidelined his initial plans. His ultimate hope is to head back to school and earn his much-coveted “piece of paper”.
His Claim to Fame: Owner of Brag Game Rights in Duluth, creator of the “Intensafier”, and all-around entrepreneurial fellow.
Favorite Restaurant and Food Item: “I love the nachos at Sir Ben’s.”
Favorite Spot to Unwind: Dubh Linn’s (for a Guinness!) or the Red Star.
We’d Never Guess That: Christmas trained in ballet for eight years (“It helped me a lot in sports”,) and for a time, taught ballroom dancing in Florida.
How He Recreates: This uber-ambitious guy likes to make it to the gym at least several times a week.
Shovel or Snowblower? Shovel.
Long-Winter Survival Tip: Play video games, of course! He also enjoys holing up and watching movies. “They pump me up and make me think.”
Favorite Local News Personality: Corey and Lauraat Mix 108. “I talk to them all the time.”
What’s the Expert’s Favorite Video Game? The Gears of War series.
Check out the BragGameRights website!