Section 9

Section 9

A Coffee Shop For Nerds, By Nerds


There are a lot of coffee shops in the Fargo-Moorhead area, but few have the allure and claim to the nerdom throne quite like Section 9.

The storefront for one of the area’s few geek hangouts. (Photo by Emma Jean Vatnsdal)

Located in the heart of North Dakota State University territory in the Bison Crossing at 12th Ave. North Fargo, Section 9 has become a local point of interest as one of the area’s only cyber cafes. The small cafe provides a convenient store front for snacks and coffee, while the bulk of the floor space gives the store’s patrons a hands on experience in nerd culture.

Cappuccino 117 reporting for duty. (Photo by Emma Jean Vatnsdal)

By nerd culture, we don’t mean a few racks of comics or a beat-up “Pac-man” arcade cabinet. We are talking about a full blown LAN-party.  For those of you who have to live with the disservice of being born in the age of the internet, a LAN or Local Area Network is a series of computers linked together to connect computers within a limited area.

Rows of computers connect the customers for everything from simple friendly matches to high octane tournaments. (Photo by Emma Jean Vatnsdal)

The store is one big hopping LAN-party as an epic throwback to the golden age of PC gaming. The LAN-party was a staple of connecting gamers all throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s. In the barren wasteland before social media and Xbox Live, it was a simpler time; it was a better time.

Section 9 has so many computers, they divvy them up into zones. (Photo by Emma Jean Vatnsdal)

These machines defined a generation of gamers, and despite the rise of the internet, the LAN party will always have a special place in people’s hearts. That doesn’t mean Section 9 can’t get with the times. Connectivity to the internet is still very much an option on any of their numerous powerful gaming computers at the cyber cafe. Knick knacks line the walls as a monument to the stores dedication to everything geek, from posters to swords, Section 9 creates an unforgettable atmosphere.

Perched on the wall of Section 9 lies Frostmourne, the blade of the now defeated Lich King… wait… spoilers? (Photo by Emma Jean Vatnsdal)

While Section 9 offers convenient store style snacks and coffee, the money it pulls in just keeps the lights on for the store. Their passion seems to come from serving the community and creating Section 9’s distinct atmosphere.

“We sell all the food and coffee to basically keep it all going, like the coffee machine, we sell some coffee and it pays for the VR (virtual reality),” said Robert Sanford, one of the owners who manages operations with his brothers and their father.

A whole family of gamers run the store, a passion which evolved into a career and a community gem.

“Yeah we all are,” said Robert, referring to one of his family’s favorite pastimes. “Even my Dad is playing ‘New Vegas’ right now,” Robert chuckled, “I’m proud of him.”

Robert Sanford holding down the fort. (Photo by Emma Jean Vatnsdal)

Section 9 recently moved to its new location near NDSU. Before that, Section 9 was located at the heart of downtown Fargo, just off First Avenue North. The owners decided to make the leap closer to NDSU’s campus as the majority of their patrons are college students.

According to Section 9’s website, the goal of the business was always aimed at “creating a gaming space and social community in mind we set out to create a unique business with video games as the center point,” a goal Section 9 seems to have consistently achieved.

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