A SHOPKEEPER who has turned her passion for games and comics into a full time job says the must-have board game in Peebles this Christmas is Azul.

The strategic tile placement game, which has more than 14,000 reviews online, takes from 30 to 45 minutes to complete and is aimed at ages eight plus and for two to four players.

Clare Mott, 52, opened Peebles Comics and Games, which she describes as a “destination venue”, on Northgate in October 2020, after moving back to the Borders from London with her husband Simon and children.

Clare said: “Some people said I was crazy to open a shop between the two COVID-19 lockdowns but we have been steadily building a presence as the only Comics and Games retailer in the Scottish Borders.

“Simon and I share a passion for comics and games as does our part-timer Alex MacDonald, who works Monday and Tuesday.

“I was brought up in Lauder and worked in corporate travel in London before our move.”

“Everything we deal in is analog; we don’t sell computer games it is all about getting children away from screens.”

Clare is also very keen on promoting reading at school and she has supplied books to primary schools including graphic novels at cost for Kingsland.

Since the store opened, it has also spawned ‘Borderlands Table Top Gaming’ recently made into a Community Interest Company, which meets every other Thursday, from 7pm to 10pm, at the Drill Hall.

Clare, who is secretary of Peebles Business and Retailers Association, which was formed this year, is still celebrating about helping to overturn the plan for car park charging in the town.

Clare said: “We have customers from as far south as Cumbria, Glasgow, Edinburgh and from across the Borders.”

The business has also supported Peeblesshire Foodbank, has a change box on the counter, runs raffles and has recently donated a large box of toys – some of which were from one of her suppliers Diamond UK.

Speaking about the store, Clare said: “I wanted to keep the decor clean and welcoming for everyone.

“I have been to games and comic stores all over the world and sometimes feel unwelcome. Stores can be messy and all the heads turn as a woman walks into an all-male environment.

“We aim to be a safe space for everyone and the shop is bright and colourful because that is the world of comics.”

On Monday evenings the shop hosts the local Dungeon and Dragons game group for adults, and on Thursday afternoons a similar one for children.

This week it was hosted by Dungeon Master Tal Haim who is also one of the Borderlands Table Top Gaming founders.

Tal, who moved to Peebles in 2021, said: “When I came to Peebles I did not know anyone and was quite lonely.

“I came to the Monday nights and and made friends, the store has opened lots of doors.”

The first Saturday in May is world comic book day, with many patrons coming to the store in games’ costumes.

Clare, borrowing a line from Star Wars, joked that next year it will be a case of “May the 4th be with you”.