Friday, June 03, 2011

The Road to WPN (Part 7)

[This is part 7 in a series, and assumes that you've already read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6]

Since Part 6 brought us up to date, I figured that from now on I would write things as they happen, and once a post gets long enough, publish it. So, without further ado...

May 30, 2011: Today I put together a flyer for use in the store at the cash register, and any other places that I may need to advertise via such a format. If you'd like to see it, please feel free -just be warned that it takes a while to load (maybe start loading the page, then come back here to keep reading ).

Anyway, while the flyer itself may not be all THAT spectacular, what is very cool is what the WPN makes available to organizers like myself. At their website, they have all sorts of retailer support kits in the form of graphics and pre-made advertisement banners/flyers for prereleases, launch parties, and game days for each new set when it comes out. I used images from the Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged, and New Phyrexia kits in making the flyer. I really am rather amazed at the stuff that's available for use by people like me who are putting together events.

May 31, 2011:  My new friend Craig, whom I met at the New Phyrexia prerelease, happens to be a graphic artist and tweaked the flyer for me, for which I am very grateful - so the flyer that will actually get printed up looks much, much cooler now. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself!

June 2, 2011: My credit card reader from Square arrived today. I will now have the capability of accepting credit cards using my Android smart phone at events, should anyone wish to pay me for cards that way. Pretty darn cool.

June 3, 2011: Today The Road took a completely unexpected turn.

I stop in to my local comic shop (Beyond Comics in Gaithersburg, MD) for my monthly comic pick-up, when John (the manager) says to me "Don! Follow me, sir." and moves out from behind the front desk to head to the back room of the store.

Now, I don't know about you, but I've seen and read enough cheesy fiction to be just a little bit nervous about that turn of events!

Anyway, I follow and he opens the door to the back storeroom and gestures to show me a vast open floor space where before there had been haphazard piles of storage boxes (now either gone or more nicely organized on the shelving units around the walls). "I think we can fit two nice sized 8-person tables in here with no problem. We can hold Magic events back here. So, what do we need first to get started?"

I hesitate a moment, then answer: "a time machine."

As you may recall from Part 1 of this series, Beyond Comics was the store that initially approached me many years ago with the idea that I could help them get MTG events running at their store. They are also the store that was then unable to run events with me in the smaller location they had to move to later.

But, it seems, they are interested enough to go through the trouble of clearing space in their back room. What to do?

I told John that I had already signed up with another store to run events there. However, I continued, as far as I know there is nothing in the WPN rules that prevents a person from being organizer for more than one store. Meaning that, if Patrick at Novel Places was okay with it, I could organize events at both sites. I would need to call Brian at WPN and make sure that this is okay on the WPN side, and then (assuming it was), meet with Patrick and see if HE would be okay with it.

After all, I've made a commitment to Patrick, and also put a lot of time and effort into getting things set up with him. I'm hardly going to drop him just because another store is interested.

"Worst-case scenario," I left John with, "I would be happy to help guide a different person as organizer for you."

So, as soon as I got home, I put a call in to Brian at WPN, leaving a message on his voicemail asking him to give me a call as soon as he could. I think this issue warrants a phone conversation rather than an email back-and-forth.

A bit over an hour later I received a phone call back from one of Brian's coworkers (Brian himself being out of the office today), and gave him the backstory, then - So, can one person be organizer for more than one store? "Well, if you'd just led with that question I could have quickly told you yes, that's fine," said he. So, embarrassed at having wasted his time with the full backstory, I quickly asked my next question, just to make sure my understanding was right: each store would have to reach Core Level on their own, right - it's not the organizer that works on reaching the next Level, it's the store. "That is correct," he confirmed. So, in other words, I would have to organize 4 events AT EACH STORE, and get 6 new WPN players AT EACH STORE, etc, etc. Oy!

So, one last question, out of curiosity - is this something that happens normally - one person organizing for multiple locations? "Oh, yes - it happens quite frequently. In fact, what you can do is you just be the person that schedules the events, but someone at the store enters the results into the WER. You wouldn't necessarily have to actually be present at the event." Ah! He had inadvertently answered another question that had been bothering me. What if I helped both stores get to Core Level, and both wanted to run FNM? Obviously I couldn't be in two places at once on a Friday night!

Well, that confirmed, it was now time to face the more important issue: would Patrick mind if I was organizing for another store which could, of course, be looked at as his competition (at least in this arena)?

I decided that a face-to-face meeting may be better on this issue than phone or email, so I quickly drove up to Novel Places and found Patrick alone in the store, and available to chat (he did have a customer come in towards the end that sort of cut our conversation somewhat short, but that's good for him, so I certainly won't quibble!).

I outlined the situation to him, and assured him that I was committed to the relationship that we had established. If he didn't want me to be working with Beyond Comics, I would completely understand and respect that, and that was all she wrote. However, I pointed out:
  • When I first met Patrick and explained my long-term goals, he seemed a little hesitant about the idea of weekly FNMs. Today he confirmed that often book signings and other events he may want to do would need to be scheduled on a Friday, and therefore there would be conflict. Beyond Comics, on the other hand, would LOVE to have the weekly influx of people, and don't generally have any events scheduled on a Friday night. So this would be a nice division of focus between the two sites;
  • I think Beyond Comics would be moving ahead with the idea of holding WPN events, whether I was the organizer or not. At least if I were organizing for both sites, I could try to make sure that they didn't overlap and interfere with each other, by scheduling (as an example) a Launch Party for one store on a Saturday, and the other store on the Sunday.
Patrick agreed that these were good points, and also (as a small business owner himself) he appreciates that helping to keep Beyond Comics going would be a good thing, and he'd like to encourage that as well.  So, essentially, I had his blessing to proceed and, at the very least, work with Beyond Comics to get them set up in the WPN and running events.

When I got home, I called John at Beyond Comics and gave him the good news. We briefly discussed how things might work, and scheduled a face-to-face meeting for next Friday to get together and hash out the details (I imagine we'll probably settle on things very much like what I have set up with Patrick). While I had him on the phone I filled out the WPN form online to get them registered as a WPN event site, so that we got that ball rolling.

And that, gentle reader, is how I suddenly found myself the WPN organizer for not just one, but two separate event locations.

Oh, dear lord, what have I gotten myself in to?



@whoisles said...

Wow, watch out what you wish for! Well done with the second location, and I can't wait to hear how it goes!

Love the articles, keep em going!

pureval said...

Kind of wish I was still in MD so I could stop by one of these. Is there anyway you can edit links into the old posts directing to the next one? It was annoying to keep having to jump back. Congrats on this and watch out SCG The Sundry is coming after you.

Don said...

@whoisles: Thanks for the encouragement!

@pureval: Links to the next post added. I will try to remember to do that with each new installment. And regarding SCG: SHHH!!! The longer they don't know I exist the better, methinks :-)