Looking Back and Looking Ahead

by Phoenix Comics and Games

Welp, here we are. End of the a year that felt like it could go on forever. We went into this year with some pretty ambitious plans that had to get summarily thrown out the window, but we're still here through it all. It's in moments like this that I like to look back at the year that was, then forward at the year to come. 

Content Warning: short discussion of 2020; mention of pandemic and any number of potential trauma inducers.

Looking Back at the Year that Wasn't

Oof. Well let's start by saying that this year was bad. Pandemic, sales, massive industry shifts, and a lot of pain and sadness to go around. Bad. Our assistant manager had to quit and leave the country to preserve the health of her spouse (we miss the heck out of you Jenn!). The shop had to close down for a month and a half while the country went into lockdown. And then there's the civil unrest and absolutely terrifying presidential election.

It would be way too easy to just write this year off completely. To throw up our collective hands and say "this year was irredeemably @#$%ed up." And I do want to acknowledge that everything I just said in the preceding paragraph is all too real. I don't want to downplay any of it. 

Having said all that, it is in times like these that it is so extremely important for our own mental wellbeing that we find things to be grateful for. These things may not outweigh the bad (it'd be hard to find anything that really outweighs the bad of this year), but they give us something to focus on past the doom. They remind us that we will get through all of this, that there is a light coming at the end of the tunnel. 

For me, it was the way folks came together in bits and pieces to support each other. I see it on the Hill in the form of mutual aid stations that pop up. I saw it in the protests this summer, and the new waves of activism that have spread up through this country. On a personal level, I found hope from my family down in Texas, and from my new niece Madison, whom my parents and sister would send countless photos and videos as she crossed those important brand-new-baby milestones. 

For the store, it's been in the way our customers and friends have supported us, and the way my team, our team, has worked together to present the best effort we could possibly make this year. When the lockdown happened, we put a lot of time and effort into re-making the website into what you see today. I'm really proud to say that our inventory on about 99% of what you see online is live inventory. It changes and updates as things sell or as we receive new stuff, and we're constantly making improvements and adjustments. Our customers joined us in trying out new things from digitally distant Magic: the Gathering events all the way to having me deliver their comics and games right to their doorstep.

Where does all of this leave the shop? In an okay place. I won't lie and say we're doing amazing. I don't think that's possible in this year's economy. But we're here and we're not going anywhere anytime soon. We're already in the middle of more planning for how to make the best of the first half of 2021, and how we can start to re-open the store for events once the vaccinations start to happen in earnest.

Looking Ahead at 2021

Our plan as we roll into the new year is to get back to where we were heading when the pandemic hit. We had plans for rolling out additional content through the website, such as more news and recommendations on the comics and graphic novels side of things, the first of which is coming early next week where we talk about DC's Future State! I fully acknowledge that our blog posts lately have been pretty Magic-heavy, and while I want to make sure people still know about our events there, I want to get a little bit more variety up in this blog. We're already doing this a little bit with the help of Matt Baume and the Stranger, but Alix and I want to take a crack at getting out ahead of constant onslaught of new books with some recommendations of our own.

In keeping with our updates and advances to the website, we're also working to make sure the site is as up-to-date as possible. That means whenever new books, board games, trades, cards and supplies show up here, they're available for you to purchase within about 10-15 minutes online. 

We're also looking forward to making some preparations for the return of events, namely with some upgraded tables and replacement chairs! Our hope is that by mid-year we can start to get things in the back area re-staged for customer use again, and that by July-August we're back to hosting drafts and other weekly events. This would also be around when we start to open our hours back up towards the later end of the evenings again. And as promised, we've got a case or two of every set from 2020 available for drafting, including Mystery Boosters, Ikoria, Double Masters and more! 

As store sponsored events come back, we'll start to look at finally finishing up that private room as an additional space for in-store play, and we'll be reaching out to our friends within the local gaming communities to help them start up meetups and other events in the latter half of 2021.

I hope that's enough of a sneak peak at the year ahead to brighten it up for you! We'll be back in a few days with a look at Kaldheim and a rundown of what's in store for our prerelease! Think of it as incentive to keep doing what needs to be done in the here and now. Mask up, wash your hands, stay 6 feet away from others, and be as safe as you can be. 

- Nick

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