Mahjong providing unique connections; Julep now offering classes, sets for sale

May 23, 2024 | 12:15 am

Updated May 22, 2024 | 10:31 pm

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Owensboro is becoming a Mahjong city, according to Julep Home and Gift Owner Elizabeth Wilson. The retail store has been hosting classes to teach the age-old, tile-based game, with Wilson saying it offers a sense of deep connection combined with competitive spirit.

When Julep began to sell and teach Mahjong, Wilson said, it was a bit of a risk like any other business venture. However, she quickly learned that the game could have a fruitful future in Owensboro.

After stocking up on heirloom-quality handpainted tile sets, Julep started teaching classes in March.

“So many people that come in say their grandmother used to play and they still have the tiles,” Wilson said. “That’s what we were looking for. We were looking for something that was beautiful and going to stand the test of time because these really are meant to be used and passed down.”

Wilson said the tiles are hand-poured from four layers of acrylic, and every customer tries to find tiles that are representative of themselves. While the tiles add a personal touch, Wilson said what keeps players returning is how the game forces them to be active in their moves and present in the moment.

“Mahjong is so much fun since it’s really something that you have to be present for. You can’t have your phone out, you really have to be present,” she said. “It’s so much fun to play with a group of friends that are picking it up because they want to have that one-on-one time with each other.”

According to National Geographic, Mahjong was developed in Southern China in the mid-1800s as one of the many male-dominated gambling games at the end of the Qing dynasty. It spread worldwide in the 20th century and continues to grow in popularity today.

Wilson noted that Julep breaks the classes, which cost $75, into two parts: one to showcase the history of the game and one to teach how to play.

Classes were paused throughout May due to a busy schedule, but Wilson plans to start back again in June.

“I will let people know right before I post the class on our website,” Wilson said. “You can always reserve your seat on our website, or you can come in if you’d rather do it that way, but they do go quickly.”

Julep is located at 2738 Frederica Street. Follow their updates or find more information on their Facebook page or website.

May 23, 2024 | 12:15 am

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