LAKELAND, Fla. – Doug Barriger has a monopoly on Monopoly. Or at least one of the strongest claims in Polk County.
Barriger, 29, general manager of Brewlands Bar & Billiards North in Lakeland, has a collection of more than 80 Monopoly games that he’s gathered since his stepfather gave him his first version of the board game at age 9.
Stepdad Chad Clement commissioned a friend, local artist Steven French Jr., in 2003 to make a hand-carved wooden Monopoly game for Barriger, complete with tiny tokens.
“He barely made it in time for my birthday,” Barriger said.
French’s creation was so good, he entered the game in the Ridge Woodcarver’s competition in 2004 and took first place.
Barriger said he thinks Monopoly is the reason he associates numbers to money, and that of course comes in handy with his North Lakeland business at 5161 U.S. Highway 98 N.
Just as there is strategy, buying, profit and loss in business, so goes the world of Monopoly.
“Like most people, I pretty much purchase everything I land on, and use that to my advantage later in the trading process,” he says. “That is the whole point in Monopoly, it is Business 101.”
FIRST TASTE OF BUSINESS
The Brewlands general manager says his stepfather owned a business, Clement Lamp Factory, and both Clement and Barriger’s grandfather shut the factory down to go into the thrift store business.
That’s when Barriger got his first taste of business, strategy and counting money.
“My stepdad would drop me and my older brother off with a trailer at the flea market at the Silver Moon (Drive-In Theatre), and we’d sit there with a wad of cash in our pocket,” he said. “He would give me a price list of all the items from the thrift store, and we would sell a bunch of stuff. And then at the end of the day, he would come and pick us up. And I loved doing it. I enjoyed it. And I loved counting the money.”
Many times on summer break from school, Barriger would accompany his stepdad to work, and his reward became a game of Monopoly when they returned home.
Then came gifts of various versions of Monopoly games for Christmas and birthdays. “And it just grew from there,” Barriger said.
Over the years, he has collected variations of the board game such as Lakeland-Opoly and Tampa-Opoly, localized versions of the game centered on area sites and attractions.
There is no rhyme nor reason to what attracts him to certain versions.
“I see one, it catches my eye,” he said.
‘IT IS REALLY COOL’
Barriger said he’s run out of closet space for his collection, and hopes to have a man cave some day where he can permanently display his beloved wood-carved Monopoly game and its delicate pieces.
A coworker was out shopping one day and shot him a text about a Florida-Opoly and Christmas-Opoly version she found.
“I said buy them for me now,” he said, repaying her when she got to work.
Barriger has a collector’s edition Monopoly on his wish list that’s about $160 for a used one and $300 brand new. Given his custom of buying two copies — one for playing and a sealed one for the collection — he says he would buy the game, but doesn’t want to spend $500 on two games.
“It is like 4 inches thick, and it has drawers built into it. It is on a swivel, so every time it is your turn, you just turn it,” he said. “And when it is time to put it away, there is a drawer that holds all the pieces. It is really cool.”
Another favorite of his is the Bar-Opoly that his daughter made for him as a gift.
“Her mom messaged me and got tiny liquor bottles for all the places. So like Boardwalk is Johnny Walker Blue, a $300 bottle,” he said.
MONOPOLY IS SERIOUS BUSINESS
“My girlfriend doesn’t like to play with me anymore,” Barriger confessed.
A Monopoly champ who had a group of friends she liked to play the game with, Barriger noted, “I shut her down.”
A coworker nearby heard the statement and said “that’s cold, that’s cold.”
“It’s Monopoly,” Barriger responded. “I don’t even take it easy on my kids.”
Barriger said many players of the game don’t realize they can’t trade property with houses and hotels on it when they hit bankruptcy, but have to sell them back to the bank first, and they only get half of what they paid.
Many go for the most expensive Monopoly properties, the green spaces.
“I hate the greens,” he said, “because they cost me $3,000 for hotels. I only like Boardwalk and Park Place because there is a card that sends you to Boardwalk.”
He avoids the greens, and prefers the oranges and pinks “because that half of the board gets played more than the other half, because people are going to jail.”
Pointing at that half of the board, Barriger noted, “If I can own this strip, I can own you. Those are my favorites. Those are what I go for.”
So in a world full of electronic video games and cellphones with games on them, why does Barriger like to play Monopoly?
“I am just part of that ’90s generation and the old crowd, where you can just appreciate old board games,” he said.
His phone, like many in management, is attached to him pretty much all the time.
“I just have enough going on in electronics at work,” Barriger said. “It is nice to take a step away, leave the phone in the other room, and break out the Monopoly with the kids.”