If you’re from Harmony and love board games, you’re going to want to add Harmony-Opoly, a limited edition real estate trading game, to your collection. Melissa Vander Plas, who sits on the board of directors for the Harmony Chamber of Commerce, first brought up the idea of creating a game based on the City of Harmony during a chamber meeting last year. She had heard of something similar being done in Mankato and thought it would be neat to have a game for Harmony as well.
Becky Hoff, the director of the Chamber of Commerce, contacted Letterwerks, a graphic design company from Decorah, and they suggested using 521 Promo to create a board game featuring the City of Harmony. A Georgia based company, 521 Promo allows customers to design their own games for personal use, fundraisers, communities, etc.
Before committing to the project, Hoff put out some feelers around the area businesses to determine if there was interest. Once she had established that people were interested an excited about the concept, the Chamber began to formally sell real estate spaces on the game board. In just a few months, all of the spaces had been purchased. “It worked out perfectly,” Hoff said, noting that they didn’t have to turn anyone away who was interested. When all was said and done, around 35 Harmony businesses had purchased spaces on the board. The chamber made sure to keep the price point affordable so everyone could participate, and they were happy with the results. The production costs for the games that weren’t covered by the game space sales and other sponsorships were picked up by the Chamber.
The Chamber members set to work designing the game board, cards, money, and playing pieces. Dawn Maroushek, a graphic designer with Letterwerks also worked on the project. Harmony residents Sharon Storhoff, Mary Beth Ostrom, and Kim Thompson all lent pictures to use for the game box. The First Southeast Bank of Harmony sponsored the paper money pieces for the game. The Harmony Area Community Foundation sponsored one of the decks of cards and the other was sponsored by the Harmony EDA. The cards feature choices such as “hold a family reunion at Selvig Park” and “pay for preschool tuition at Fillmore Central.”
The pewter playing pieces were especially fun to design. 521 Promo sent the Chamber a list of the playing pieces they already carried. From that list, the Chamber chose golf clubs, a train, a bicycle, and a music note. The other two pieces, an Amish horse and buggy and a tractor were custom designed.
“It was just so much fun to work on, and I’m very happy with the results,” Hoff said about Harmony-Opoly. The Chamber had originally planned to debut the games in November, but Hoff decided it would be better to complete the game design by mid-May to allow the Chamber time to focus on planning the Fourth of July celebration. Because of that, the games arrived in August instead. The games will be launched during the Chamber’s Ladies’ Night Out on September 13. Starting on that day, the games will be available to purchase at Kingsley Mercantile, Harmony Gardens & Floral, Boutique on Main, and the Harmony Visitor Center. The cost for each game is $32 with no advance orders being accepted and cash or check only for payment. The proceeds from the Harmony-Opoly games will go to the Chamber. “We will use that for marketing and other various projects,” Hoff explained.
The Chamber originally planned to order 500 of the limited edition, real-estate trading Harmony-Opoly games, but then added another 250 to the order, bringing the total number of games to 750. Due to production costs, they will not be restocked when they have all been sold. “I do think they’re going to go quickly,” Hoff commented. “People should buy them early if they’re planning to give them for Christmas gifts.”