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Contemplations and Preparations

A look at the year that was 2019, and a look forward to the year we want 2020 to be.

As I sit here writing this out it's about 12:30 in the morning. I'm sitting among family watching an episode of Great British Bake Off with my partners and thinking about the last year at Phoenix. Over the last year we've had our share of triumphs and challenges. On top of that, we've gone through an immense series of changes. I think it's worth taking some time to examine the year we've come through and talk about where we're heading as we move onto the next year.

2019 - The Good

If there are things I would point to over the last year as success stories, it would be 3 things - our wonderful team, our amazing communities, and the expansion, was made possible by the other two successes.

Our communities have been and continue to be the backbone upon which the store thrives. Our board gaming community has grown by leaps and bounds this year. The store's Magic community supported us with a year of well attended events and a store record shattering 188 player tournament in the form of our Mythic Championship Qualifier. And our queer and marginalized communities of friends, neighbors, and loved ones continue to bring a smile to our faces when we see them drop by the store. We're eternally grateful for the diverse crowd and communities that make this store their home.

Speaking of friends, Team Phoenix has been through some roster changes this year. I'm extremely happy to have our new assistant manager Jennifer on board. In the time she's been here Jenn has made her mark upon the store's attitude and culture. She was crucial in getting me to delegate both during and after the expansion. It's been one of the hardest things I've had to do this year. For a small business owner that was terrifying but necessary. And I'm happy to say that our team definitely stepped up to the challenge.

These two things combined this year to enable us to do something truly amazing. Over the last year we've planned, implemented, and executed a renovation / expansion that doubled the size of the store. The expansion gave us room to breathe. We now have the capability to hold large (60+ people) events without impacting how the store feels to anyone. That new expanded gaming area also means we can support a wider variety of events. We've already seen an increase in the number of tabletop RPG games happening as well as folks dropping in to play board games. In virtually every way, our expansion has been a success.

2019 - the Challenges

Now I know that I've just sung the praises of the expansion. Truth be told it was an amazing success. It was also one of the greatest challenges that we've had to take on. Going through with the expansion meant not only continuing to do every tournament, event, and meetup we could manage in 2019, but to also do so while making sure the expansion happened on a schedule that would impact as little as possible.

Things didn't go as planned. We started later than we wanted. Work took a bit longer than expected. Costs were a bit higher than we wanted, and we weren't able to get everything done that we hoped. That private gaming room is still coming btw, it's just delayed. I promise And yes, we will almost certainly still do a kickstarter to help finish up the expansion. That was just one of many things I set down to make sure the important points all got dealt with.

The expansion took a personal toll on me too. My family and my loved ones wound up supporting me through a lot of late nights as we pushed to get things done. Even now my husband's staying up to keep me company as I pen this final blog post of 2019. I gave up a lot of time with them to make this happen, and I'm eternally grateful they put up with my insanity. If you take nothing else from this little ramble, take this piece of wisdom. Before you go and do something as crazy as opening a small business, make sure your family is ready and willing to support you. Doesn't matter what sort of family that is by the way. A family of choice is just as good as blood-family. Sometimes it's even better.

2020 - The Future

So, we've talked good and bad of the last year. Now let's talk the future and where we're going. For starters, this is the final blog post that's going up on the old website. If you visit our web store, you'll notice that it looks a bit different. For some technical reasons we're going to do away with the wordpress side of things and move to an all shopify based platform.

There will still be blog posts like this one, and the first one (for the Theros Beyond Death prerelease) will be up in the next few days. The new web store will also enable the online purchasing of magic singles! As soon as we start inventorying and setting them up online that is. By the way, if you want to sign up for the prerelease you can already do so. Just scroll down to the event calendar on the main shop page and look for the event listings there.

What else can you look forward to? We're not 100% sure yet. I'd definitely like to get that private room set up. And our team is super keen on leveraging the larger space, so look for new events or old events returning in a different form. Logistically, we're also looking to plan things further in advance. So in theory you'll see a lot more content from us through the site and our social media feeds. I know Jenn is really looking forward to doing video reviews of comics starting in the new year. And I'm sure there's more on the horizon that we haven't thought of (yet).

That's all I've got for now. Thank you for listening to this crazy shop owner ramble a little bit. And thank you for being a part of the store during this past insane and wonderful year.

- Nick

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