Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Road to WPN (Part 4)

[This is part 4 in a series, and assumes that you've already read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3]

First things first: Someone (who shall remain nameless) snarkily tweeted to me that I seemed to be keeping the location of the store a secret. So let me boldly state that the store is HERE:

There. That should take care of THAT.

[EDIT: Since this post was originally written, Patrick has moved and slightly changed the store name. It is now Novel Books, and is located at 23330 Frederick Road in Clarksburg]

Next, I realized after posting Part 3 that I had left out some details that had come before my face-to-face meeting with Patrick, so I need to back up a few weeks...

One issue that I realized we would need to work out was who would be the actual dealer in the MTG items. Did he want to sell MTG in his store, and charge the fee for events, etc (in which case I would act only as the organizer)? Or would he rather just essentially play host to the events, and rent me some space in the store so that I could claim an actual brick & mortar presence for myself, in which case I would suddenly find myself being a much bigger sealed MTG product dealer than I have been in the past.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Patrick opted for the first possibility. He would carry the MTG, and I would organize.

In that same email conversation, he indicated that his landlady was not all that thrilled with the idea of using the space for MTG events. This made me VERY nervous, and I was worried that our fledgling idea would die before it could ever take flight. He assured me that he would work on it on his end, and not to be worried just yet.

So, fast forward now to our face-to-face meeting. I drove up to the store around 11 am and let myself in by the side entrance. After walking through a small area that seemed to be used for storage at the time, I found myself in the main room that was to become the store. Boxes upon boxes (filled presumably with books) sat on nearly every available space, and I found Patrick sitting on a stool behind the main counter.

[Side note on the location. If you'd like to see photos of the place, Patrick has many up on the official store Facebook page. The building is truly historic, being the first building in Clarksburg, MD. It was built by John Clark by around 1780 on the site of an Indian trading post (which was first established ~1730). It has been added to over the centuries, but inside the building you can see into one of the original walls. It's like a bookstore with a built in museum. You can just feel the history when you step foot in the building. It's awesome. But I digress, and I am gushing embarrassingly, so let me move on...]

I had come armed with printouts of various WPN web pages, as I wasn't sure whether Patrick would have a computer up and running in the store as yet (in retrospect, the fact that he will often Tweet from work should have given me some clue, but that could have been from a smart phone, so maybe not). I explained to him how the WPN level system works, and what we would have to accomplish to get up to Core level where we could run prereleases and FNMs.

He let me know that the building is divided into three sections. He's in the main first floor area. The storage area I had passed through from the side entrance is a separate area (that he hopes to expand into some day), and there is an entire top floor as well.  The landlady he had mentioned earlier (who, it turns out, should not have a problem with our events, since, as he put it "if I can say yes to a book club, how can I really say no to you?") hopes to rent out those spaces as well. The "green" grocery store that used to be in the building used all three sections, if I remember correctly. There is the possibility that we could use the first floor side area if an event proves to be too large for his main store, assuming it is not yet rented to someone else. Right now he plans to have everything in the main area on wheels, so that it can be moved out, clearing the space for meetings of many varieties (book clubs and book signings mainly, but our MTG events as well).

I won't bore with detail after detail of the conversation. Instead, let me tell you that by the end of the meeting we had filled out the form online to join WPN (it turned out he did indeed have a computer up and running), with me as organizer and he as store owner. We had also hashed out the essentials of what our business relationship would be, to whit:
  • I will organize the events, including scheduling them with the WPN, taking care of posting results, and everything else that goes into actually getting the space set up, etc.
  • He will order MTG products and keep them in stock, including enough to run the events with. Therefore, when a person pays to enter an event, s/he will be paying Novel Places, not me.
  • Patrick will not deal in singles. That will be left up to me. I currently plan to put into effect a free shipping offer once we start running FNMs such that a customer could order from my store and come to FNM to pick up their cards instead of having them shipped if they desire.
  • I will advise Patrick on what MTG products to order, including quantities thereof (at least initially).
  • His big benefits: increased foot traffic into the store; additional revenue stream in the form of sealed MTG product.
  • My big benefits: a nice built-in client base for my singles store; a (hopefully) cheaper source for my cases when a new set comes out; a place that's near my home where I can play regular MTG; the fun and excitement that comes from being a WPN organizer (in case you haven't guessed yet - I am insanely excited about all of this!)
I had also come 99% to the conclusion that I really need to make Don's Magic and Sundry an official legal entity, and become an LLC. I also need to get a trader's license and start to do all the crazy official things one is supposed to do, such as charge sales tax and the like. It kinda sucks, but the store's getting big enough now that this has become necessary. Many are probably shocked to find out it hasn't happened before this, I would imagine!

I left my first meeting with Patrick extremely excited. I could hardly wait until we heard back from WPN as to whether or not we'd be accepted into the organization. That wait, it would turn out, would be shorter than I was afraid it would be...



Casual said...

Great stuff, once again. I think after you finish this series you should do an "overview" post of the steps you took to go from an online retailer to "hosting" WPN events.

Thanks for being willing to share.

Anominal said...

Fantastic stuff! Looking forward to more. Too bad I live on the west coast. I'd certainly come and check it out.