Joel Shear is a local business owner who is ready and excited to leave his mark on Downtown Springfield.
Joel is the owner and operator of Dial-8 Designs, a company that provides a variety of services including screen printing, classic video games, and entertainment services, such as sound set-ups and DJing.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Shear moved to Springfield in 1995 and graduated from Kenton Ridge High School.
After graduating from Ohio Northern University in 2007, Shear moved back to Springfield and has worked at various local businesses, including starting as the lead bartender at The Market Bar in COhatch when it opened in Downtown Springfield in 2020.
One of Shear’s roles at The Market Bar is to create new handmade syrups and flavorings for specialty cocktails.
“My creativity spills over vastly into my bartending and my artistic flair into my drink making,” he says, adding that ingredients can be led by dessert flavors, breakfast dishes, or culinary delights from around the world.
The relationships Shear has made over the year have helped support his dreams for owning and growing his own business.
Through his role at COhatch, he has been able to grow Dial-8 Designs into a video game space in the COhatch basement. While COhatch itself owns areas with darts and cornhole, Dial-8 is a vendor operating video games.
“We’re starting small, growing interest, and making plans during Phase 1,” Shear says. “We have a rotating collection of 17 machines with seven to eight out on the floor at a time to keep it interesting.”
He hopes to eventually expand and add more games if more space becomes available in COhatch.
“If I can prove the interest is there, we hopefully get to move to the next phase,” Shear says. “So by patronizing this place, you will help the next step along. It really is a labor of love.”
His connections with COhatch and The Market Bar aren’t the only ones that Shear says have helped him along.
He also is thankful for the support and direction he’s gotten from Eric Beason, owner and operator of Game Cycle, 1300 St. Paris Road, Springfield.
“I have him as a great partner in the business,” Shear says. “All my machines have come from him. He’s a long-time friend and believer in me, and he wants to see me succeed. He’s helped me with acquiring machines and their maintenance.
“He also wants to see people’s passion for gaming spread across the city.”
Shear says his love of gaming started as a kid and that he always knew he wanted to bring that nostalgic feeling into a business someday.
“I grew up in arcades. That was where I wanted to be when it was my choice,” he says. “I would barely make it to eating my pizza between playing Street Fighter and Ninja Turtles at Pizza Hut, and those were some of my fondest memories.”
He says when Beason opened Game Cycle, it became one of his favorite places to go in Springfield. And when Shear was percolating over plans to add gaming to his Dial-8 Designs offerings, it was serendipitous that Beason was looking to sell some of his games at the same time.
“And I was able to make it my business with my stamp on the revidalization and fun going on in our new Downtown,” Shear says.
The arcade and game space in the COhatch basement is open to the public from 4 p.m. to close daily, Shear says. Video games are a quarter per play, and quarter – plus cornhole bags and darts – are available at The Market Bar.
The space can also be reserved for private parties by contacting COhatch Community Manager Rachel Erie at [email protected]
Shear also provides entertainment services for events, including lining up live musical acts, running sound equipment, and serving as a DJ.
Shear’s love of nostalgia also bubbles over into another branch of Dial-8 – screen-printed T-shirt designs he makes and sells from his Hatch Artist Studio location.
He makes some designs that are mash-ups of brands and characters.
“Many designs I do for myself end up on shirts. Many come from designs and doodlings that end up being a piece printed on apparel and merchandise,” he says.
He’s also created apparel lines for The Market Bar and Sushi Hikari – both located in COhatch – and is working on an apparel line for and new restaurant coming to Springfield.
Ultimately, Shear says that though Dial-8 Designs has many diverse branches, the common piece of all the branches of his business is the throw-back feel.
“Everything I do, I try to have this wash of nostalgia to it – the shrits, logos, everything has a retro or antique feels to it if I can put my signature one it,” Shear says. “We’re selling people nostalgia, just in a lot of different ways.”