Trying to find time to sit down with David Leschinsky and interview him for a blog is like trying to find time to sit down with Santa Claus a week before Christmas. When he’s not on the phone with a manufacturer, planning our next On the Spot event, or downstairs attending to the myriad of responsibilities and tasks that come with owning a small business, David is inevitably working the sales floor at Eureka helping our customers find the perfect puzzle or game to fit their needs. The moment David walks in the door he is shaking hands, greeting customers, and chatting with employees about the morning’s tasks.
His enthusiasm is infectious. He’s a person that can make you feel excited about your own mind. When you have a conversation with David you’ll feel him really listening to you. When he speaks to a customer, you can sense them relax, often ending in a guided tour around the store. It’s a more thoughtful and intimate conversation than you might expect to see in a retail store. The ease and dedication is undoubtedly due in part to David’s minors in philosophy and psychology from Rutgers University, but on a more basic level, it’s due to David’s personal passion: helping people think.
Originally from Middlesex, New Jersey, David was fascinated by puzzles from an early age. Throughout his education and early career as a consultant in the application of software modeling to assist decision making, David maintained his hobby of mechanical puzzles. This passion culminated in David opening Eureka! Puzzles in 2004. Since then Eureka! has changed locations and expanded to become an integral part of the Brookline community.
When I got a chance to sit down with David for an interview, he was in the process of filing his taxes, a task on which he was “woefully behind.” I pulled up a chair in his cramped office in the basement of Eureka to ask him a few questions. The following is the first installment, a teaser if you will, of a series of interviews with David and the Eureka staff on the unique experience of working at Eureka!
J.H.: Being an owner of a puzzles and game store, what percent of your time do you spend finding new puzzles or playing puzzles and games with friends and family?
David: That’s an excellent question. Very little. One of my passions is mechanical puzzles. But I find that aside from evaluating new puzzles when they come up, I rarely get a chance to sit down and actually enjoy them. I’m part of an international group of puzzle collectors and puzzle designers. These are the folks that actually make most of the puzzles that are available worldwide. I meet up with them regularly. They had an annual meeting a couple years ago that I went to. They had a room where they had set up a puzzle competition. This room had probably one hundred or one hundred and fifty of some of the newest and most innovative designs introduced that year. I remember sitting down happily, working out a puzzle, solving it, working on the next puzzle, sitting down and spending some time with it, moving to the next puzzle. Before I knew it, I was there for three or four hours. And I realized that was the longest period of time that I had spent just sitting and enjoying the process of solving things since the last time I had been to that meeting a few years prior.
J.H.: Would you say that’s a catch 22 of opening a store like this, where your whole mission is to actively help people get into puzzles and expand their way of thinking, but at the same time you’ve limited your own time?
David: Unfortunately, yes. When I started this company we’d have game nights at home regularly. We’d always have a jigsaw out. We’d play games. Now there’s much less time available to do that. So I still get a chance to enjoy games and jigsaw puzzles with the family, but not as much as before I had the store.
J.H.: Do you find yourself inundated by people who constantly want you to spend time playing games and puzzles and to share your expertise?
David: Whenever I go to a family gathering, I’m always asked to either—well not so much asked, it’s more of a tremendous anticipation of what I’m going to show up with next.
J.H.: You always bring a new one.
David: I always bring something. Generally a combination of games and puzzles. And that’s where I’ll also spend time with the family, enjoying a more relaxed atmosphere.