Reflections and Ruminations on 2022

Reflections and Ruminations on 2022

Here we are, the last month of 2022. It’s been a heckuva year, full of ups and downs. Opportunities and setbacks alike. Before the year really folds up, I’d like to take a moment for some public introspection. What do I think we did right? What could we be doing better? And from that introspection, I’d like to chart a course for the new year ahead.

The Ups and The Downs 

Where to even begin? Let's start with some numbers.

Going into 2022, I could already feel the pace of the year being about 10% faster than what I personally was equipped to deal with. January itself was a 30% year over year increase in raw revenue, and February showed a nearly 80% uptick (thanks Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty!).  

Now before anyone starts celebrating, I have to point out that I said revenue and not profit

Even two months in, we were already starting to feel pressure from cost increases. Some of these were overbuying on our end (I’m looking at you Innistrad Crimson Vow and Streets of New Capenna). We also hired new people and trained them up as others left, which further added to our costs. That said, I’m extremely happy with the crew we have now that’s built up over the last year. I’m grateful that we were able to give folks a substantial cost of living adjustment, one that more than made up for the inflation of the last year. They deserve as much pay as I can give them. One hundred percent worth it in my book.

For me personally, it was also a year about personal reconnection and growth. I managed my first semi-vacation early in the year, and first out of state travelling since the pandemic commenced a bit later. And wow, was it a doozy. I generally don’t recommend travelling to Texas in the summer if you can help it, but hey one’s parents only turn 70 once, and I wanted to be there to help my dad celebrate it.

I also took a step on a personal journey of my own – being more outwardly gender nonconforming. This was  a direction I was headed in early 2020, but then…well…pandemics are not nice things for mental health, and my reaction was to bottle up those feelings something fierce until I felt safe. I gotta say I feel a lot safer and healthier when I can fully express the me that I want to be now, and it’s really good to have partners and a family that support you. It's definitely a journey I’m eager to continue on. It also informs what sort of store I want to run (more on that a little later).

But enough about me, let’s talk more Phoenix stuff. This year also saw the return of many events as people began to be more open and ready to reconnect with some of the hobbies the past couple of years made problematic to accomplish. D&D came back, thanks to some wonderful GMs, and we made our first in-roads into a bit of social RPG organizing with the RPG Faire events we got to host in the latter part of the year. Those were absolutely runaway successes, and I look forward to our spring event sometime in the February – April timeline. Board games also made a comeback with the help of some fuzzy friends, a group of POC Gamers and the Queer Geek Facebook group.

And of course, comics! This year’s been pretty fun in the comics department. This year saw Queer Robin, a gay Superman, the continuation of the Krakoan Age of X-Men, and so much more. We also kept up with a regular posting of review blogs here on the store’s site, and that owes a debt of thanks to Sloane and Selena. Without their contributions I never could have put those posts together. It never fails to brighten my day when someone mentions they read the post and are adding things to their subscription because of it.

Moments of Reflection

This time of year always brings out a lot of reminiscing and nostalgia for me. I mentioned earlier that it felt like the pace was just too fast for me, and that really wound up impacting what I could focus on. Coming down to the end, I find myself looking out at the horizon of a new year and saying “okay, here’s what we need to do better.”

I want Phoenix to be a space to empower community. I want us to play host to events, discussions, signings, and meetups that offer marginalized communities a place and safety to come together and be themselves. I want to do more to foster that sense of empowerment folks feel when a group or a meetup they’ve put time and effort into building comes to fruition. 

To that end, we’ll be codifying how to set up events run under the store’s aegis. How to get your events up on the calendar. How to host an event and how to attract attendees. Our goal here is to make it simple and straightforward to decide you want to run an event here. Our space is free to use, and we don’t plan on changing that. It has always been our strategy with the space. Communities that are supported tend to support back.

I hope that by the end of next year, we see more diversity of events here at the store, and on this website. I’m really happy with the Magic crowd we have. I also want to acknowledge that it does account for a large volume of posts and content. We’ll continue to do our part to support that community with events, we just also want to support other communities too.

Gratitude

You’ve heard me mention it earlier, but I wanted to end with a thank you. If you’re reading this now, if you’ve been a customer at the store, or if you’ve attended one of our events, thank you. Thank you to Jenn for all the work she put into the store. Thank you to Isaiah for helping me with his Discord-fu. Thank you to Selena for the amazing chalk art week after week. Thank you to Aster for joining us so late in the year and being willing to learn. Thank you for Doug and Sloane for stepping up to be my new Assistant Managers and helping me step away from the front. Thank you to Anna for running an amazing Feminist Comic Book Club. Thank you to Eric, Dane, Chive and Nupa for our board game meetups (and to all of your crew – I know it’s way more than a 1 person job).

And above all, thank you to our supporters, subscribers, and patrons. Thanks to all of you, we're now heading into 2023 and looking at our 10th year in business.

-Nick Nazar (they/them)

Owner, Manager, Phoenix Comics & Games