The following is just a smattering of thoughts I had about Nathan’s five part essay. They aren’t really in any order, so don’t expect chronology or narrative. I just wrote them in as I thought about them. I thought I was done defending the work I did at the shop in Monday’s post, but I found some other crap that Nathan said, so I responded to that as well.
Another surprise sell were some hardback books. They were classics. I seem to remember one being by Robert Louis Stevenson. We posted them up for maybe six or eight dollars, and they got bid up to $15 plus shipping. Another such acquisition was a complete copy of the board game Scotland Yard that I hated to part with, telling Nathan that it was a great game. The rule was that we bought things we wouldn’t mind getting stuck with, but we tried to sell it all. I bought Scotland Yard for a dollar, and we it sold for $17. Luckily, we now have two copies of the game for personal use, and have had a blast playing it.
I don’t wish to make this sound like everything was a huge success, because we had some things that moved slowly and cheaply, and some stuff that didn’t move at all. There was a book store in Richland Hills that was going out of business. I bought a ton of books at around eight cents a piece. Nathan was totally bent about this acquisition, and I never understood why, cos he never said anything coherent about why he was bent. My theory is that the books weren’t “shop stock,” book sales while profitable were slow at best, and they were complicated from a posting to eBay perspective. I deal with our differing view on reinvestment later, and that may have also been an issue. We did clear a profit on these books pretty fast, and might have done more if it hadn’t been so close to the time that Nathan quit. In spite of all of this, I still donated about five boxes of these books to Goodwill last year while eliminating clutter from my life.
We used a book that said, “Ledger,” on it in the days before the shop. We pronounced it as you would pronounce “Edgar” but with an “L” at the beginning, because we thought it was funny.
Our formula before the shop was to figure out how much actual profit we made from each sell, reinvest 75% if it into sales growth, and split the other 25%. We would have $5 paydays, or less, each week, but the intent was that as we bought more and had more for sell, that number would grow. When we got into the shop we more or less had to stop that practice because everything we made was put into bills and the like. This was one of the big debates that Nathan and I had. Reinvestment.
The odd thing is that we would buy a lot of stock, and the stuff that would sell, would sell fast. Then everything else would sell slowly or not at all. I feared hitting a stagnant point where we weren’t selling. Nathan feared not getting the bills paid on time. It was a screwed up balancing act to be sure. And one without a right answer probably.
Nathan and I attended a free seminar that turned out to be a sales pitch for a much more expensive seminar. But it was worth the time we invested to go down there. The guy gave this odd markup formula that was supposed to automatically estimate what you needed to sell items for to cover for business expenses. You divide the initial cost by 60%. So if you paid $10 for an item, you do the following: 10/.6= 16.666667. So your markup cost is $16.67. This was higher than our original formula in most cases, but it turned out to be reasonable still.
The shop computer ended up becoming mine for what it’s worth. It eventually crapped out. One day when Nathan and I take all of the dead computers I have and build a super-obsolete computer with them, it will live again as only a cyborg understands.
The Charlatans UK album Nathan refers to is “Between 10th and 11th.” It is a great album. I remember we listened to Duran Duran’s “Pop Trash” a lot during that time too. I know there were other albums, but those are the ones that stick out. Maybe “Once Upon a Time” by Simple Minds. I know that when we first got the Magic cards we listened to an Erasure Greatest Hits that Nathan had, and I tried to get him into Talk Talk, but to this day he seems unimpressed for some odd reason.
Nathan speaks of how I’ve wasted so much time on Magic. I think the interesting thing here is that it’s very immeasurable without data. I know of many ways that being part of the Magic community has enhanced my life, socially and creatively And I’m sure I could list a number of downsides too. I could do the same with pizza delivery, which truthfully has wasted most of my life, because the monetary rewards have never been great enough to justify it.
I’ve actively avoided World of Warcraft. One reason is because I’ve seen how easy it is to get sucked in for hours at a time. I think I’d really enjoy the game, but I wish to prioritize other things. Another reason is simply what order it dropped into my life. I do wish to maintain time for Net Runner, Magic, The Sims, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Grand Theft Auto. That’s just naming a few, and sticking to the category of games. In order to take on WoW I would have to clear a number of things out of my life that I enjoy. So for me it would be a big waste of time, but I don’t doubt for a minute that those who have played it have had their lives enhanced.
My final thought on this matter is simply this: Nathan and I have discussed creating a game for years. I did a lot of reading about Net Runner and Magic at the time we had the shop because we were trying to create a Virtual Expansion for Net Runner with our Net Runner Yahoo! Group. One idea in my head was that in doing that we would learn something about game design, and could potentially start creating games to shop around to game manufacturers. If we ever do then no one could ever say that the time I spent studying game design was wasted. I already know for various reasons that it hasn’t been a waste anyway.
Nathan makes some sort of weird assertion that I used the shop to hide away from my family, and that I would sleep up there at night. I wrote a big long thing about Nathan’s perception of my work ethic at the shop that was posted up on Monday, but I see that reading through this now it goes much deeper that even what I dealt with.
He says, and I quote, “Now that I think about it all I am not sure Chris did much other than man the shop when I wasn’t there.” It saddens me that he thinks so little of me. I guess I’ll list what I did do, so that he can have his memory refreshed.
But first the avoiding family bit. There was never a point in all of that that 24 hours passed that I didn’t see the kids. In fact, I would be home almost every morning when they were getting ready for school. And my oldest son would sit with me at the shop on my Saturday shift. I even started paying for internet at my home in order to do shop work while at home with my family. If I ever slept at the shop it was short naps when I went up there to work at night. And that’s what I mean, I did a lot of work in those hours, and he thinks I was just sleeping. He has a much skewed idea of what went on. My future roommate who was a pizza delivery co-worker would sometimes ride up there with me and talk to me while I posted auctions. I bring that up because long after Nathan had sworn off of going anywhere near garage sales, because he found it tedious, I was riding around with her every weekend looking for stuff to sell. She was looking for furniture to refinish, but that’s irrelevant.
Here is what I did do at the shop that was shop related. I did still package things to be shipped off, and in fact I went to the post office mostly because I could leave to go to my pizza delivery job and stop at the post office that was one block away. When I was at my job I would sort through cards that I was buying as reinvestment from a shady character named Momomadad, until it was busy enough for me to clock in. One co-worker was quoted as saying, “Oh, he has a card shop! That makes sense. I thought he was just really into that game.” The chore of reposting auctions that didn’t sell, and putting emails for sales into another folder was primarily my job because Nathan found it tedious.
This is where it would do Nathan some good to use logic. We acquisitioned well over 200,000 Magic cards in the time we were opened. Who knows how many thousands of auctions we dealt with. He feels he did so much work because it was a lot of work. In fact, it was literally too much for one person to do alone. It was almost too much for two people to do alone, because we did get help from people on occasion. So I had to be doing something in all of that.
I was primarily in charge of listing books. In spite of the fact that we had a decent profit margin from them, Nathan hated selling them, and he found posting auctions for them (yep you guessed it) tedious. On a couple of occasions I put out fliers for the shop when I was doing fliers for either the pizza restaurant or the Chinese restaurant.
So when you read about all the work Nathan did, and all the goofing off I did, just realize that Nathan is exaggerating, even though I’m not sure why. He says the shop was his baby, and acts like he was the only one who tried to make it work; but he quit after the initial lease was up, and it was me who stuck around and tried to keep it going. The shop was officially open from January 2003 to April 2004. He quit by August of 2003, though he did help out with work and money for a few months after, but he was basically gone. I still owe him money from that time, but I do want to point this out. My profit went to making an even split of initial investment, and the rest was put on an IOU which I have paid painfully slow in the years since. My point is that when Nathan talks about how he went into debt, we really went into debt. And I had just as many reasons to make the shop work as he did. It’s too bad he doesn’t know this.
My final thought at this time is the day I went to press charges against Quentin. I was called by the detective and she was trying to give me directions. She asked me if I knew where something was, and I said I didn’t. Then she asked me if I knew where Illusions strip club was, and I said I did. She laughed and said, “Almost every time I give directions that’s the best landmark.” I thought about defending my reasons for knowing where it was, but I figured what’s the point?