As was explained in my previous post, I will be rolling out several new ways to support The Airlock. The first on the list will not even cost you any money, but it could make all the difference in the world for us. Amazon has an affiliate program which is designed to allow you to monetize your websites.
I will be posting some of these links, the first of which can be found below. Obviously we do not get the quantity of traffic to make this significant by traditional means. We also don't have content that will draw a bunch of online shoppers looking to buy something from Amazon. So we simply ask our friends and fans out there to click this link before shopping at Amazon. It will not cost you any extra and we will get a small percentage of these purchases to put towards the bills and keep the doors open through the winter. This feels a little tacky to me, but I am willing to do tacky if it allows us to keep a set of pods in Washington!
The Airlock has lots of small business friends out there that have helped me to get the word out. I hope that you will support them first this year, as The Airlock is not the only small business that is suffering this holiday season. I will link a few of them below, because even though it is probably counter productive to the main purpose of this post, they don't get mentioned by me enough! If you need to buy something that you can't get from one of our friends, please look to Amazon this year and click the link you find at the end of this post! You have no idea how much this could help us this year, it may just be the thing that Saves The Airlock! Bookmark this page so you don't lose the link! I will be posting a few of these links around The Airlock web and social network presence in the coming days, but you can get your "cyber Monday" shopping done through that link below and help us out no matter where you are in the world, and whether it is during Airlock hours or not!
Just a few of our friends who I don't mention enough!:
Ada's Technical Books comes to mind as we share quite a few customers with that shop and I am sure they would love to meet more pilots from The Airlock.
Paige over at Corner Comics has been kind enough to let her customers know about us. I have been friends with Paige for a long time now and have been buying my comics from her for years. Her shop is located at the other end of Totem Square from The Airlock, down by the Chan's.
Play N' Trade of Kirkland Has supported The Airlock since the day we opened. It didn't take long for them to find us. They booked their anniversary party with us and have sent us a fair amount of business. If you are looking for a local video game store, check this one out!
The Panzer Depot is a small game shop just around the corner from The Airlock. They have been in the area for quite a while but I find that many of my customers don't know they are there. They specialize in certain types of miniatures gaming, and have quite a selection available. They have been kind enough to let their customers know about us, please check them out.
It isn't just businesses that support what we do! Quite a few different organizations out there have lent their support. I will mention a couple here, please spread the word about them too!
If you are looking for a hackerspace, please check out Black Lodge Research in Redmond. I know that lots of our pilots would be interested, and they have sent a lot of business our way. I would love to return the favor as they are always looking for new people who are interested in what they do there.
Seattle Retro Gaming Expo was an awesome event in 2011 and they are already planning SRGE2012. They did a lot to get the word out, and are likely the only reason The Airlock still exists. Please check them out and spread the word!
The Infosec Daily Podcast has been a huge help in many ways! If you are into infosec, hacking, etc, please check them out!
Click on the banner above before you buy something from Amazon and you will be supporting The Airlock!
Thank you very much for your support! I will be posting about other ways you can support The Airlock as the week goes on. Please stay tuned!
Monday, November 28, 2011
I have to apologize for a couple of things at this point, because I really feel like every time I post to this blog I am just asking for help. That is never my intention, The problem is that when things are going bad financially for The Airlock it means the shop isn't as busy, I have time to post when the shop is slow. Then when things are going really good it gets harder and harder to keep up. A lot of people wonder why I don't write these while I am loading games. Despite popular opinion I am not a professional writer and really need some quiet time staring at the wall before one of these posts come together. I get interrupted just often enough when we are open that I never seem to make much progress. I am writing this at 6AM on Monday morning and it is going pretty well...
I promise to try to communicate better, and in some new ways. The Airlock podcast is coming soon, and won't be nearly as weird as the idea sounds. We have some pretty cool ideas for this and it is going to be a lot of fun. The new website project is almost done, I have said that for months and it is still true... just waiting for the last few pieces to fall into place. This is an example of something that just doesn't always go as we plan but will be great when it comes together. In the meantime I appreciate the support as the blog still seems to get good numbers of people reading.
Currently we are faced with the biggest challenge to the survival of The Airlock that we have experienced so far. I wish the news was better, and I wish there had been more warning. The situation has gone from bad to MUCH worse in the last few weeks. Last year (2010) was our first year, and we stumbled through pretty well I think. I have some past work experience that might make me well suited for this, but I am still new at it for sure. The opportunity to get pods and open up had presented itself suddenly, and had a very definite and quickly approaching deadline. We didn't get to set things up exactly as we wanted to. The location was not great, we fell a little short of the target we had when raising start-up funds, and the pods certainly were not in the good condition that we thought. The day we officially opened the doors we had $156 in the bank and not enough customers.
So we stumbled along, always surprised that whenever things got really bad, our pilots seemed to intervene and keep us going. Toward the end of the year I got access to the last of the personal resources I could cash in and put into the business, it wasn't much but we didn't need much either. At the start of this year we wondered if it would be enough as there really was no safety net. What we found is that the sales have covered out monthly recurring expenses almost exactly. The problem? The sales have not covered the emergencies, the disasters, the calamities that lurk around every corner. Two sewage floods that interrupted busy holiday season weekends are a good example of something that we never really recovered from. This translated to a small balance with the landlord who didn't offer much help.
Certainly these problems can be expected, but I am very sorry that we were in no position to handle them. I could point to the fact that the economy has stayed slow much longer than expected, or any number of other excuses, but the truth is that there was a tremendous amount of risk to what we were doing. It was a roll of the dice from the start... we needed twelve to hit and rolled eleven-and-a-half. Arcade business is very seasonal... much more than we knew when we started. I wouldn't have thought that we would follow those trends anyway, but it is uncanny... we follow them exactly. When school starts we are very slow... the holidays help a little and then it is dead until spring. Make it to memorial day and then it is better than you would expect until school starts again. This year a couple of weeks before memorial day, I thought we had no chance. I put out a blog post and asked for help. Some of you helped, but really it was the natural time for business to get good again. Memorial day weekend the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo was a HUGE help. Gerald and his friends worked very hard down there to help us out, despite dealing with their own problems, and the chaos that comes from doing things for the first time.
We were doing pretty good catching up on the bills but in July the landlord billed me for just enough months of electrical service (long story...) that our balance crept above our security deposit. We were hit with a 10 day notice. We let some other bills slide and caught up on the rent... so at the end of the month we had no money and lots of bills to pay. We beat the notice, but now we owed for another month. This set up an oscillating pattern of either the landlord, or EVERYBODY else being annoyed with us. As September rolled around sanity was returning. I was starting to think things might work out just fine, but on September 15th it slowed down. It wasn't as bad as last year, but we were starting from a much worse spot than last year. The middle of October things picked up again and I had hope that things would naturally get back on track, but the massive list of video game releases in November have taken their toll. The game industry people that play at The Airlock have been busy, and the video game fans that play at The Airlock have had a long list of new titles to choose from.
With a small balance owed at the beginning of the month, and no money in the bank, we saw some very slow weeks. Members night business that sustains us through the rest of the year has been almost nonexistent. Tournament nights have been slower and the other nights have been empty (often completely empty with ZERO customers). We have faced additional headwinds this year as a lot of our regular customers are involved in the "Occupy" protests and we haven't seen them for a couple of months now. I hope some of you can make time to stop by for a few games this month, it may make all the difference in the world! The rent clock keeps ticking no matter what, we haven't been keeping up the last few weeks and now we are being billed for next month. This puts us well above that magic number again and I am told we will face another 10 day notice at the start of December. Problems are compounded by the fact that our lease is up at the end of December, and we do not have money in the bank for a move.
The landlord isn't going to give us a new lease unless we can catch up. So we need to do a record month of sales, and we need to do it during our worst season. Obviously the best help for this is if you all do what you usually do! Show up, bring friends, buy games. It is a big help if people buy some games ahead. But I suspect that isn't going to be enough this time. I have been making a plan for the last few days and I have some ideas for some new ways that you can all support The Airlock. Some cost money, some don't. I will roll them out one at a time in a few blog posts as they come together. This will start this morning with another post about the first way you can help. I will also be laying out some new tweaks to the schedule, offering some new opportunities for unlimited play. There will also be some new events scheduled for people who are interested in learning RedPlanet but are not ready for competition yet. We will have some dedicated practice time available, as well as the return of Martian Football Sunday (about one a month). I ask that you all pay attention as these may be the things that make the difference. It is not an insurmountable gap, but it is big. I hope you will help me continue this project, we are having too much fun to stop now.
I had really hoped that we could survive this year without calling in any favors, but we just didn't quite make it. I need all of your help more than ever!