Free RPG Day was a bittersweet occasion for me, since it heralded the final business day for my game shop.
In a lot of ways, it served as sort of a reminder of why I decided to end it. This was the first time Free RPG Day was offered in our town; it’s something I had promised to do months ago and have gone out of my way to make sure it would happen. Even when it looked like I would have to close the shop, I decided to make it a goal that we would reach this day, even if it was the last. I had promoted it as much as I could, informed my regular customers about it and have made countless posts on our facebook page. I was even offering a free, open to the public Cthulhu Dice tournament for store prizes. Yet, it was a fairly quiet day.
Quiet, except for all my friends who showed up to support me.
It was a very appropriate way to end the game shop. Like my fiancee commented, it ended like it started: surrounded by friends. I had sat up the night before, wondering if during this give away hoopla how many would show up. I was wondering if all those gamers who hounded me for product, yet never paid a dime to my shop would show up on the last day for free swag. I was wondering if all the would-be customers I never had would just appear in the hopes of dirt cheap sales and free prizes. In a sense, I was as if I was emotionally preparing myself for the buzzards to come pick at my wounds, and gather around waiting for my death rattle.
Instead, when 2 PM rolled around, and it was time for the tournament, my table was filled with nothing but my friends. My friends I have gamed with for years, have known for years, have been there to support me during some of the roughest times in my life. My friends who understood how passionate I am towards the gaming hobby; my friends who shared that passion, whom I have many, many good memories with. I was surrounded by my gaming family, and that made the final day a celebration.
What can I say? It got me in a festive mood. I had originally put some of the unique Free RPG Day items (like the wooden Dice Tower) in a “prize box” (read: Zombie Dice display box) along with dice sets, Cthulhu Dice and Zombie Dice. I made a rule that any time Cthulhu won, I’d add to the pile. Before everything was said and done….everyone got to walk away with an assortment of dice sets, copies of Pathfinder and 4E rulebooks, copies of Munchkin or Fluxx or any other random game I decided to add to the pile. For extra fun, we were using a plush chibithulhu to mark whose turn it was in the tourney. The final game was a Cthulhu Dice match to “win” the love of the plushie, and take it home.
Later that night, I arrived at my friends house, where the next hours consisted of moderate drinking and more dice rolling. It made me so happy to see everyone playing games that, for once, I didn’t just bring over to show them. Most of the night, I got to keep my games in my car. Even as I wake up this morning, I have warm fuzzy feelings like one gets on Christmas morning playing Santa. I’m glad that, in the end, the doors may be closing but at least I was able to give back to my friends who have helped me with so much in life.
Today, I’m heading out to my dad’s house to spend much needed time with him and my brother.
Tomorrow, I’m reporting my sales tax and beginning the final exit strategy for my shop. I feel kinda heavy hearted about that; but the strength in knowing that things are already in motion for my next project excites me.
And to all my readers, well, I should be blogging again pretty regularly now that my new direction is focused online.