Durango Telegraph article about Klackers

On any given night and within any given bar in Durango, there are excellent odds you'll find a recurring scene. It consists of customers taking turns whispering words of encouragement into a clenched fist tossing a pair of dice into the board game called Klackers. The script is a familiar one-a random person suddenly throws their hands up in victory as if they just won an Olympic medal and grabs a wad of worn out dollar bills in the exact same moment. This event occurs over and over again as the night goes on, while the scene's director, Mike Lynagh, witnesses the excitement and energy his board game produces.

In three years full of hard work and endless supply of energy and dedication, Durango resident Mike Lynagh has taken Klackers from a small hobby in his garage to a full business venture. He and long-term friend and Partner Peter L. Berriman currently spend long sleepless nights in their shop sawing, sanding, nailing, painting and signing as many games as possible to keep up with incoming orders. In fact, in just three short years they're on the verge of hand making and selling their 700th game.

"That's two guys making them and me selling virtually every single game by hand," Lynagh said. "I've made every single game, I've signed every single game and I've hand delivered to practically 700 people."

Not only has Klackers exploded on the local scene so quickly, but it is quickly becoming found in homes, schools and bars throughout the country. The constant growth in the number of incoming orders is overshadowed only by the growth of the company itself.

Since July of 1998 Klackers has been growing like a wildfire in summer. The name Klackers has been trademarked, a limited liability company called Klackers LLC has been formed and an office opened. Klackers LLC has also teamed up with another Durango business, Brainstorm Industries Inc. Together they will expand the website klackers.com that Colin Cornwell of Everything Virtual built in 1999. The updated website will enable people to purchase the game via their credit card and let them interact globally by playing the on-line version of Klackers.

With the popularity of the game growing and Christmas quickly arriving, an endless stream of orders has swallowed the supply. These factors have forced Klackers LLC to consider alternate forms of production. Some include hiring more employees to help build the games. Others involve allowing large national woodworking corporations to build demo games for possible mass production. Also. Large toy and game companies have shown interest into purchasing the rights to Klackers.

"To sell the rights, it would be have to worth it in all aspects," Lynagh said. "Selling the game would be like selling your dog. If someone tells you they'll buy your dog for a million dollars you'd say 'no way'. It's the same thing."

As for the near future, a national Klackers tour, complete with the Klackers' van and possibly Klacker' girls is almost ready to get on the road. This tour will hit trade shows, colleges, music festivals, football tailgate parking lots and many other festive events where the game will continue to be sold one by one and from hand to hand.

"Every time we sell one we've met a good friend because they love the game." Lynagh said. " It just has really good energy and makes people of all ages happy to play something different."

This rapid success and popularity did not suddenly appear overnight. The dream of building and selling Klackers actually began in the late 1980's when Lynagh discovered a primitive version of the modern game in a local pub in Vail. The version played in Vail was a basic replication of a game traced back to Northern France. The original game kept seamen busy while sailing the seas and waiting in port. The rules were basically the same as players competed in trying to flip down all the numbers(1-9) and score a zero. This is done by rolling a pair of dice and flipping down any combination of numbers equaling the sum of the dice. The lowest score at the end ultimately wins.

By the time the game and the rules wandered across the ocean and into America, it had acquired such names as "wake-up-Giant" and "shut-the-box". Regardless of the name, the fact remained that the game had attracted attention and gathered groups wherever and whenever it was played.

The interest and excitement of the game followed Lynagh to Durango in 1991 when he moved from Vail to attend Fort Lewis College. After gradating, he spent a few years in Durango enjoying life and trying his luck at different occupations. Some of these occupations included archaeology, construction, and working as a rural carrier for the postal service. Another was a self-started hauling business, THC Hauling, which abruptly ended when the trailer tires behind his 1980 Ford 250 truck exploded sending his truck and the debris across the highway. Despite these few jobs, Lynagh was mainly searching for a unique niche in which to dedicate a majority of his energy.

Through these years, the memory of the simple game he learned in Vail stayed with him. Instead of throwing away the valuable wood he acquired through his hauling business, Lynagh decided to try his luck at building his own version of the game.

He compared the evolution of his first games to the modern ones with the early And recent episode of the television show The Simpson's-same great idea and fun, only with an improved look.

While creating his own version of the game, Lynagh began to place emphasis on its appearance and contributed his own personal touch by naming it Klackers. This name is onomatopoeia for the sound the numbers make when they are flipped down and "klacked" against the hard wood.

"Klackers just wouldn't work if it was called 'shut-the-box' or 'wake-up-Giant'," Lynagh said. "The name Klackers is what makes the game dynamic. It's all in the name-all about Klackin'."

Building games soon turned into a small hobby as Lynagh began making them as Christmas and wedding presents for family and friends. Everyone who received a game suddenly began asking him to make one for their family and friends. It was then Lynagh knew he had something special.

"I couldn't sell them at first," Lynagh said. " I just put so much effort into making them and they took me so long to finally get one done. I couldn't put a price tag on it."

A case of the empty pockets ultimately forced Lynagh to attempt selling a game. He went to El Rancho on Main Ave. in Durango, dropped off a game and left his name and number. The next week he got a call from the owner. He wanted to buy that game for the bar and another game for his brother. That one sale put the fuel on the fire allowing Lynagh to believe others would be willing to buy the game.

The turning point occurred in 1998 at an arts-and-crafts fair-the Christmas Bazarre at the Durango Fairgrounds. He and newly acquired partner Peter L. Berriman spent three long days, from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm making 90 games.

"I didn't know if we would sell even one game," Lynagh said.

When all the dust settled two days later, they had sold 77 of the 90 games to a variety of different customers. Some games were bought for Christmas presents. Others were bought by elementary school teachers to teach addition and learning strategies to their students. A majority was bought by people who simple appreciated the charm of a locally made product.

Since then, local bars and restaurants have jumped on the chance to bring the excitement into their own establishments. One of these is Bayou Doc's Restaurant in Durango.

"Klackers is a great bar game," general manger Mark Miller said. "People are always interested when they see the game-it gets everyone in the bar involved with one another and gets money flowing out of people's pockets."

"I'm pouring every ounce of energy I have into this," Lynagh said. "It's my dream and I'm manifesting it-I'm manifesting my future. It's a challenge but it's easy because I love it-it's not a job."

As the dice continue to roll into more and more the Klackers board games throughout the country and people constantly get caught up in the excitement of the game, Mike Lynagh himself continues to "Keep Klackin'."

Article written by: Kevin Colistra