Boom! End of the year already. What did you do? How much time did you waste scrolling through memes and useless information on your phone? I know that I have spent too much time doing things that I didn’t really want to do, but somehow got stuck in them. In the end, we do anything that makes us feel good because what’s the point of life if not to enjoy ourselves? So after getting my eyes unstuck from my phone screen I crawled myself inch by inch towards what I set my eyes on: a better store, a better work environment, a better understanding of my business…a better life for myself. Hopefully. As usual, I will mix in both stories for my store and from myself into everything that I will write. So, enjoy. As you should. But get some chocolate or anything sweet just in case you feel too salty and you need to balance out what you’re about to read 😉

A blast from the past

The end of last year I spent scrambling for safety and security, some sort of stabilization that I was desperately in need of. Once I got settled in, I was already making plans of moving out. Before I could even blink, the Arena had a new home and one that will most likely last for a longer period of time if the landlord will agree to me being there for a few more years. Things started looking up. I got ideas of how I should go on with everything, although I was closer than ever a few months prior to close up for good. The thin line entrepreneurs walk and try to balance 10 things at once is a hell of a drug. It’s more addictive than a lot of stuff out there, because once you start there is this feeling in you that never goes away. It’s like a pulsing light that no matter how dark it gets it will always be there waiting to burst out in a flaming display of dazzling brightness if you just let it. It’s like getting wings and learning to fly. You can’t ever forget what it feels like to soar through the skies and leave everything behind, to feel like you’re part of a different world altogether. I get carried away sometimes in my own thoughts when it comes to the freedom that I feel being the way I am and carving my own path. Anyway…here’s some stuff that I am sure you’re more willing to read about.

Up high

Most of the people who visit my store on a constant basis might already know that Sebastian is working for me full-time now. He’s been doing a great job with handling the Magic cards and other chores around the shop. It’s definitely been a better year than the ones before. I don’t feel as burned out and I also have more time to do anything else. Like…Starting a German course again and trying to get my German skills to a decent B1 level. It’s hard to wake up at 7:30 and end the day at 20:00 or even 00:00 for 4 days in a row on a weekly basis. Luckily I don’t have to work Mondays so I can just go to school and then chill. However, having a full-time employee means that the Arena needs to make money for two people now. That’s a hard task considering how up to now I was struggling. I still am, but in a nice way? Haha! I guess it’s funny if I think about it like that. The struggle definitely never ends regardless of where one’s at. No matter how far you think you’ve come, there’s always still more to go. I know there is a lot that I need to improve the Arena on, but the reality is that I offer more than the typical game store:
– proper tables: you don’t have to use beer tables in my store
– comfortable chairs: even the wooden ones have cushions for your sensitive butts
– air conditioning: if you’ve visited my store last summer you know what’s up
– extended advice for MtG: decks, strategies and card prices
– music: even if it’s not the best of the best it’s still noise I pay GEMA for us to listen to
– high performing gaming PCs: cheap hourly rates to pass the time when waiting for anyone or if you want a gaming session
– tournament prizes: I have always worked with a small profit margin and high prize payout
– and finally, prices: I am not even remotely close to what other stores charge for the products they have

I am mentioning all of these things to put it into some sort of perspective about how some stuff will change at the store. There will be a change in the prize pool system and some of the prices will go higher than they were up to now. This isn’t some sort of carefully planned plot to buy me a yacht, rather a reflection of the current situation and how other stores such as mine operate.

Down Low

I am going to be increasingly more honest and direct as we plow through the issues the Arena is facing now. I am not ok with people coming to my store and bringing their own drinks and not buying anything from me. I own a business that is heavily influenced by how much people spend there. So if you don’t want to spend anything but want to play, you can go anywhere else where you won’t be charged for anything. Wherever that is. It’s not meant as an offense, far from it actually. It’s just reality. Bills don’t pay themselves.

The food is also a problem. Starting with January 2019 any food that is not bought from the Arena will not be allowed on the premises anymore. Regardless what it is. You can eat outside or wherever you bought it from. Why is this happening? To be frank, it’s because both Sebastian and I have had enough of empty döner boxes, pizza boxes, dirty napkins, etc. just laying on the tables after the shop closes. We are not your parents to clean up after you. You don’t eat where you shit…unless someone always cleans after you I guess? Well, now you won’t get the chance anymore. “But you’ll probably eat at the shop.” Yes. It will happen daily. There are two ways of doing it: either we eat in the shop behind the desk or we close the shop for 45 minutes and go have lunch/dinner every day. The latter variant seems very counterproductive considering the multiple tournaments that happen to start around the time we want to eat. We would definitely eat in another room if we’d have that luxury, but we don’t, so don’t be salty about this.

Another sensitive topic is the various…odors that you can immediately smell in my shop. Look. I know that some people simply sweat more than usual and I won’t comment on your showering habits, but I will mention the deodorant spray that is in the men’s bathroom. Very simple: use it. I shouldn’t even have had to bring this up…but it seems that I am forced to because people don’t get it. It’s disheartening in a way, but if I need to be the abrasive guy, fine. I am. Adrian the Abrasive Asshole 😀 There. Say it a few times out loud if you need to, but now you’ll use that deodorant if you are sweaty. Period. I really don’t want to make you feel bad to personally tell you that you smell and should use the deodorant, while you are sitting at the table playing with your friends.

It’s still 2018, so I am sure that people will be offended by this, but do try to let that go for 2019. New beginnings and all that, eh? 🙂

Too slow

One of my major downfalls is my lack of promotion of the shop. I basically don’t do it or if I start it I don’t do it all the way. I am busy building a huge inventory rather than promoting my store to get more customers. I have been extremely slow on the draw here and got shot way too many times to not learn from this. I have now made plans to get the store known in the city and hopefully have an increase of new and/or veteran players for all the tournaments that I plan on organizing. There will also be a monthly schedule that we’ll post on facebook and in our whatsapp groups for the upcoming events.

I went and bought some streaming gear to get the monthly tournaments online. I then started streaming the weekly tournaments as well, but it takes a lot of time to set everything up in the small part of the shop that was designated for this purpose, so I stopped the weekly ones. Now, with me taking over the entire space in the store, I will make an effort to get the stream up and running properly with a stable schedule that will be posted on the channel. I have been way behind on this, but I can say for a very good reason. I needed to get shit together in other parts of my shop and my life, so the stream hasn’t been a top priority for me up to now. But I will make it one after I am done with all the moving around and rebuilding.

I have also lacked in the tabletop department. I am aware that people can and will buy online a bunch of stuff regardless if I will be selling it in my store, but playing specific games is something that only a real-life shop can offer. Because of this, I decided to invest in a table specifically designed to play only tabletop games on. From the middle of January or so, there should be an extra table for X-Wing, Warhammer, etc. I hope that people will use it and who knows, maybe we can organize some tournaments in the future.

The board games are out. I will still keep some of them that are already open, but I want to get rid of most of them. They take up so much space and do nothing more than collect dust. I can’t compete with online prices for the same titles I have in my store. And actually going that low does nothing more than earn me a euro or two. The effort alone is not worth it. I’d rather get one or two euros profit from a single magic card which takes infinitely less space and I also know more about. It does suck in a way, as I like board games, but it’s been a long time now and it never picked up. So it’s time to say goodbye to that. You can still play the ones I still have. And who knows, if it actually reignites again with people asking for me to have some in my store, then I will reconsider investing in boardgames.

One of the final topics on what to touch on being too slow is the investment I did in the gaming PCs. I love gaming online and I have spent a trillion years in Starcraft 2 already. I am now at Diamond 2 level. Once I reach Diamond 1 I will start streaming until I get to Masters in the next months, even if it kills me 😀 I play Zerg just fyi. No more excuses. Anyway, I wanted to offer PCs to organize 1v1 tournaments for various games. I really believe it’s a great idea, but very few people use the PCs and also many more don’t even know that they exist at the shop. That’s going to change hopefully and slowly but surely there will be an online gaming community in the store as well joking around and complaining about nerfs and buffs (protoss op late game gg easy a move not even looking at my screen bro).

I wanted to get into the Pokemon GO scene with tournaments that offered 30€, 20€ and 10€ for the top three teams for raiding. Entry fee? 0. That’s right. Free entry. Only a few people showed up until I decided to end the tournaments because only 3 people turned up for the event. I literally was paying people to play Pokemon GO. Could be that I didn’t promote that properly either, but I can’t knock on each door either, mentioning every week “Hey, there’s a tournament this week, and the next week or month and you should come”. If you’re interested in something, you’ll make a small effort into trying to find out more about events and such concerning your game. At some point, however much promotion I do is not going to achieve much if people simply don’t want to come. Priorities I guess.

The last thing I want to talk about is Legacy. I have given it some thought…There is a big entry barrier for this format and as it was pointed out to me, I should be more lenient regarding…proxies. Let me be extremely clear: I hate proxies. Their very existence stands against everything the Arena wants to be. But, is it a necessary evil? Here’s the deal: you can play with proxies at the shop for any weekly tournaments, except for the monthly one. In addition, all proxies will be only black and white to clearly discern them from the original cards and I will only allow proxies for cards that are above 100€ per piece only. If that sounds good to you, then get your deck together and let’s start a weekly local Legacy tournament.

The end is near…so is the beginning

As long as there will be people willing to game, I am willing to have an open store. It’s getting old to complain about this and that and it would be great to focus on something else when I am writing, although extremely sporadically, blog entries. Perhaps I will pick up the pace once the New Year starts. But I don’t think so. Being self-employed means that holidays tend to have a different definition than they have for other people. I am actually quite annoyed that I had to close for multiple days already. People have free time now, so my shop should be open…But the law says no so I must obey. Boring af if you ask me, but it is what it is.

If you planned on something for the next year, if you are the type who sets some sort of goals because a random point in time spent on this flying rock has been designated as being a special event, I wish that you achieve those goals. But remember, you can achieve them any time and you don’t need an imaginary time frame to start or end for you to do that.

Happy holidays everyone 🙂

See you in the Arena!