In the early part of 2020 I was bored. I had too much time on my hands at night, but didn't know what to do with myself. I had just recently ended my Blizzard/Activision account (full deletion) following the poor reaction by the company to the events surrounding the Hearthstone player Blitzchung and his statement during the Grandmasters tournament. Having been a long-time WoW player (just before The Burning Crusade came out), I didn't really have a plan B game to take up the time.
At the same time, we were cleaning up our basement to make a larger play room for our kids. That included cleaning out some of the bookshelves down there which were occupied by a rather large collection of Werewolf: The Apocalypse RPG books (some mine, most of them belonging to my wife). We didn't play anymore, and it was just taking up space. I was assigned the task of getting rid of the books however I saw fit. After some thought (and slacking on the project), I finally decided to try and sell the books off. I had recently become aware of 3P selling on Amazon and the huge customer base afforded by using the platform. So, without knowing what I was really doing, I set up an account to sell them on Amazon (as well as my personal eBay account).
That initial taste quickly turned into a full fledged online ecommerce business under the name Ezo's Eclectic Essentials (part-nickname, part-love of alliteration). I bought and sold a great variety of goods including toys, games, arts & crafts, and DIY gardening supplies and materials. This being during the pandemic there was a lot of online buying going on at the time and I was able to grow from a catalogue of just a handful of used books to over 250 different products.
After a couple years though I saw a few issues - I had too many various items, there was no cohesiveness to the store, and the name was just too cumbersome and confusing to really grow into something more. As it pertained to the diversity of products I decided I wanted to slim down the variety of categories into something a little more manageable, especially as how I was (and still am) a one-man operation.
I've always loved games. I started playing Champions and World of Darkness in my high-school years. Since then I have played a few different systems. I never even played Dungeons and Dragons till I was in my late 20s. But I love roleplaying games. I love telling stories with friends. I love world building. I love planting easter eggs in games (and making some of those into really bad puns whenever possible). I even have my own steampunk-inspired DND world that I've run for a number of years (which I would love to publish one day).
So as the thought for consolidating the business into a core set of products began to grow, I started looking at other game stores, local and not-so-local. I watched the likes of Dice and Dragons and Gamer's Heaven (among others) on Tik Tok. I decided that the ecommerce biz was just going to be the start of the larger business plan. Down the road I want to open my own game store - a place where people don't just buy games, but they play them. A place where people come to trade cards, paint minis, print figures, play online games, run RPGs, set up miniature armies, lounge around playing console games, hang out for a bite to eat (including in-house food service and local catering), and perhaps even have a drink (with appropriate alcohol-license in place!).
What did a place like that look like? I had many examples, as mentioned above. I wanted it to be comfortable. I wanted it to be cozy. I wanted it to be bustling. I wanted it to be a place to share news and gossip. A place to sit and swap stories. A place you could put your feet up. A place with hearty and filling hot food and cold drinks. A place that screamed ROLEPLAYING! Basically... a tavern! I went through a few names for a tavern that said "Games and hobbies". Many were already taken. Many were alliterative allusions to Dungeons and Dragons. I almost ended up on one based on a location I had in my own DND world - a tavern that existing only from sunset to sunrise and then vanished again - but the name (and domain) was already taken. A slight tweak to the adjective though and The Midnight Tavern was born.
So here we are. I'm still in the ecommerce phase of the business (which brings its own difficulties believe-you-me - such as not being able to carry the world's most popular roleplaying game due to my lack of a brick-and-mortar location!), but it is just a step on the path to something bigger and better. I appreciate if you've gotten this far in my story, and I hope that perhaps you'd also like to join me along the next steps as well. I am still growing the product lines and offerings for the store. I'm also a newly-minted Superbacker on Kickstarter, having supported many new and upcoming games (both TTRPG and Board Games). And I'm slowly working my way into Social Media - Twitter, Instagram, Facebook - with plans for adding new content (game reviews, stories) and new channels (Tik Tok, Youtube) in the very near future.
It's still a one-man show. Growth will only be as fast an expansive as I have the resources to manage. I'm learning as I go. I'm going to make mistakes, going to blunder through things until I get a handle on them. I ask only for your patience, and your input! If you can think of anything you would like to see added please drop me a line! Is something not working? Let me know! I can only grow as much as I can continue to provide valuable content!
Ignis accenditur. Pocula implentur. Alea iacta est!