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What prompted you to create Burgopoly?
Ralph: I live in Williamsburg and it’s where I got started. About 75 percent of my business is in Williamsburg, and as many brokers know, you end up working with your clients sometimes for months and you get to know them. For a long time I would do a closing gift like a bottle of champagne and wine glasses, and then I started getting into individual custom gifts like taking a person’s floor plan and putting onto a tempered glass cutting board for the kitchen, or laser-cutting coasters with images of their building. But oftentimes I found it hard to get these items produced in time for someone’s closing. About a year ago I started thinking about creating a fun and unique thing that I could have readily available for my Williamsburg buyers.
How did you attack the design?
Ralph: It definitely wasn’t an overnight process. I had to do some research and find artists that could do the little building drawings and design the game pieces. My team and I went round after round over a year and fine-tuned every aspect of it. There were many revisions of how it would look and we spell-checked so many times because I was so paranoid that something would be misspelled! It was really a fun adventure putting this together and I think it came out really great in the end. I know that many will end up atop a shelf, but for me it’s about the moment when someone gets one. That WOW factor leaves a memorable impression.
How true to Williamsburg is the game?
Ralph: We spent a lot of time not just on the design but creating the anecdotes on the cards, deciding what should be in there and what we should exclude. We also wanted to be very sensitive as not to offend anybody. What’s included are experiences that owners and renters in New York City know, like a bed bug infestation or the tub overflowing. When it came to the properties, I tried to pick out buildings that are pretty well known in the area. Unfortunately there were a lot that couldn’t fit on the board.
The game itself is subject to same rules as traditional Monopoly, so there’s nothing different there. But for each price on the original, I added on three more zeros. On the board “Free Parking” was changed to “Free Swimming at Maccarren Park Pool” and “Go to Jail” was switched with “Go to Jury Duty,” which is always a very New York experience. I didn’t want to point out specific restaurants because I wanted to be fair to them all, but Smorgasburg is included.
What are some of the game pieces you use in place of say the top hat or thimble?
Ralph: So there’s an iPhone, a key, a sack of money, a cat—because of all the stray cats out on the waterfront—a cup of coffee, a trashcan, and an artist’s palette to speak to the neighborhood’s creativity and the art community that started things here. I tried to do a mix of things.
Will you expand to other neighborhoods?
Ralph: I want to see how the Williamsburg one will go over first. But I’ve said to myself, if it’s popular here, and I do business somewhere else, maybe I’ll create LICopoly or Greenpoint-opoly.
Do you ever plan on selling Burgopoly in stores?
Ralph: I’m not—the game is absolutely FREE. You just have to meet me at the closing table! The team will also raffle off a games from time to time, so be sure to check Burgopoly.com for updates.