Thinking back to family holiday celebrations, many of them involved board games — Trivial Pursuit, Mouse Trap and, of course, Monopoly.
For years, my parents, Max and Greg, hosted my dad’s side of the family for Thanksgiving. Once everyone got their fill of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing and enjoyed a piece or two of one of my mother’s or uncle Jerry’s amazing pies, some of us turned our attention to one of our many board games.
Monopoly was always one of my favorites; although, we played our own version of it, which didn’t include buying buildings for our properties.
Although the O’Brien clan can be a competitive bunch, the hours spent rolling dice, moving a game piece around the board — I most often chose the Scottie dog or thimble — and drawing cards were lots of fun — even if you lost a turn after landing in jail.
It’s been years since I’ve played Monopoly. I think it, along with some other games, got misplaced in a prior move. However, I might have an alternative for coming family holiday get-togethers — CV-opoly — the Chippewa Valley’s own real estate game.
Generating a game
The idea to create a similar version of a longtime classic board game came after seeing fellow Adams Publishing Group newspapers, including the Ashland Daily Press and Rice Lake Chronotype in Wisconsin, launch their own “opoly” games, said Brian Maki, the Leader -Telegram’s director of advertising.
“We thought what a remarkable opportunity to bring something so local to our community,” he said.
The concept and rules are similar to the traditional Monopoly game, but there are some differences. For example, rather than landing in jail, players might be sent to court. In addition, each of the real estate spots are named after the advertiser — not a specific property — like Park Place or Reading Railroad.
In pitching the idea to potential business partners, “the idea pretty much sold itself after we illuminated the concept,” Maki said.
More than 20 advertisers are part of the game, and some of them, including Altoona Family Restaurant, Century 21 Affiliated and Korgers, purchased more than one spot on the board.
“It’s a great thing for local brands,” Maki said. In addition, the game’s box features an image of the downtown, including major partner Royal Credit Union’s corporate center.
Maki complimented Angela Rediess, the Leader-Telegram’s art department supervisor, for her work on the finished product.
“She did a remarkable job and added a lot of personal flair,” he said.
Six hundred games were manufactured, and more than half have been spoken for. The cost is $31.60 (base price plus tax).
“We thought it would be well-received as it has proven to be,” said Maki, noting the newspaper is looking at doing a different game in 2019. “I think we certainly hit a positive nerve.”
Getting on board
Hearing about CV-opoly, Ken Knutson, who owns and operates AVEnue Orchard south of Eau Claire on U.S. 53 with his wife, Shelly, daughter and son-in-law Misty and Matt Joers, and grandson Mason, thought being part of the game would help get the business’ name out there.
His family launched the orchard with 115 trees in 2007. So far, they have added more than 1,500 trees to the orchard, and they also manage two orchards.
The one-time Dunn County farm kid grew up playing board games, including Monopoly, and a nephew created a family version of the classic real estate game.
When Knutson, also known as Ronnie Appleseed, saw CV-opoly, which features Destiny cards with his business’ name on it, he loved it.
“I think they really produced what we were looking for,” Knutson said.
AJ Liedl, marketing coordinator for Royal Credit Union, agreed.
“When it came to being involved with something that showcases the Chippewa Valley, it was a no-brainer,” he said.
Leidl hasn’t played CV-opoly yet, but he is looking forward to it. RCU also has given some of the board games to workers at some of the school sites involved in the credit union’s School $ense program.
“I think kids can learn by playing the game,” Liedl said. “They have to keep track of their money and make sure they have enough to pay for that (condo or mansion),” he said.
Like Knutson, Nate Moquin, a real estate agent with Re/Max Affiliates, grew up in a board game family, and he, his wife and 10-year-old daughter still play games.
His daughter hasn’t played CV-opoly yet, but Moquin believes she’ll love it based on her reaction to Monopoly, which she recently played for the first time.
“She didn’t want to buy any properties,” he said, chuckling. “She just wanted to hold onto her cash, but now, she’s learning you have to invest.”