The Story Behind The Closing

The store was in a rough spot at the end of our lease term. I wasn't allowed to be a part of renegotiation. Although I do not know if it was true, I was under the impression the office basically gave us a big middle finger asking for double the rent. I believed that was possible as I know the building owner had been putting the squeeze on other businesses there, possibly forcing renters out before a big construction project he's trying to get approved at some point within the next year or two. This forced the store into a rushed move. Although I had planned for this contingency, the real owner was insistent on moving to locations I wouldn't have considered prime for business.

Although I could understand the reasons for the location eventually chosen, it came with a heavier price than I believe the owner expected. I wouldn't be able to commute there. We tried to work something out but it was eventually decided that I would just pay off any remaining debts (which contributed to me going pretty quiet early as I focused on work) and he would find a new manager. Unfortunately, I don't think he was able to find labor as easily as he expected, or anyone who showed up for the offer eventually turned him down as it was too risky/fishy or simply too much work for the pay.

We didn't contact each other much, we didn't really need to but eventually (sometime after the box break for Ebay/TCG singles of War of the Spark) I stopped hearing from him altogether, nor could I get a hold of him. This was normal to me, as I knew he would be disappearing for like a five-week business trip. I assumed out of the country for other business, or perhaps a visit to family he didn't want to tell me about, but that time has passed and I still can't dig him up. Eventually the domain email went down, and I assumed he was probably folding up because as I understood it business in other ventures was booming and the margins for a game store are far too risky. However business was booming enough that, at least until it was clear I couldn't relocate or commute to the new location he was interested in investing more into the business - but having failed to find a new manager I guess it was time to fold up.

Some time passed, and I started getting message requests from strangers on social. I hadn't really noticed them - I get a deluge of normal messages and on most platforms you need to sort of actively check them regularly to see if you have anything. Even after I did notice them I had assumed it was mostly spam. It wasn't until a regular customer of the store sent me a direct message on Facebook letting me know what had been going on, and this was probably right before or after the video by Alpha Investments went up.

I started checking those messages and the secondary store email (the one I made pretty much only to manage Google Calendar) and realized they were people from Ebay looking for anyone who could help them or to just call out the store. I probably still have some that I have missed, but I spent a pretty good chunk of time having to explain the situation to a lot of people. I also received warnings from 4Chan as possible retribution-doxxing would commence, having lived fairly publicly and proudly during my time at T2U it wasn't hard to dig up info and unfortunately due to our unique arrangement most things pointed to me as owner, although proprietor may be a more appropriate term, as I had not yet brought the business under my legal purview (this was the long-term plan and agreed on by the actual owner).  

By the time I checked out the store Discord it was far too late. All the damage had been done, and with the warnings and a bit of paranoia on somehow the owner blaming me (since I couldn't work at the new location) I decided to take precautions first. I figured the least I could do was try to investigate what happened with the orders.

Despite no longer being a part of the store proper, my permissions from distributors had not been removed. It seemed as if the orders were all placed to fulfill whatever happened with the Ebay orders, so good-faith was there to begin with. However, these orders never did complete for one reason or another. I do not know if what happened was a scam or negligence that information is beyond me - I could prod our representatives to find out if they were in regular contact with the owner while I was not but since I probably wasn't supposed to still be on the account I didn't risk it.

It would be easy to assume it was a scam - this isn't the first time something like this has happened on Ebay and those who know the owner knew he could be somewhat shifty, he was a shrewd businessman and not a particularly ethical one - he seemed libertarian and also subscribed to the modern profit-first methodology; so if backing out of a deal already signed for a better one in the near future it would happen - and he didn't particularly care for laws or employee protections. It is totally possible that while getting out of the business he may was well nuke the brand and risk taking some "free" capital. However, a scam of this scale is a serious accusation and it seemed a bit too much even for him. Although he didn't take particularly good care of it he knew better than to totally sully a brand after all. The possibility of negligence is also there. To be quite frank, I'm not even sure the owner is still alive.

There is one message I didn't bring up earlier. The owner had a wife who messaged me and emailed the secondary store email. Thinking it was his account, it was to let him know that divorce papers needed signed. This was a mystery and surprise to me, he never shared any personal details at work when he was there, and I was under the impression he had no family. He never talked about home at all. Nobody I've talked to has been able to get a hold of the owner, including his (ex?) wife. I would look into his other business to see if it's still ongoing but I was never told what that was and no evidence of it was at the store. I fear that perhaps while on his trip he just decided not to return to the states, or deal with any of the other stress sources, if not something worse.

Anyway, that's pretty much all I know about the situation. What happened to the store really sucks. If the owner is alive, I'm not sure I want to know. I can't hate anyone, especially if the source of this debacle was the inability to cope with a difficult situation - but that cascaded into breaking down everything I had sacrificed a lot of time, money, and energy building up, as well as the stress of dealing with the fallout. I don't think I'd like to be reminded too much about that. 

A lot of regulars encouraged me to go truly solo, and that's what I've done with this boutique and has dominated the last couple weeks of my life. I don't mean to shill it, but since I couldn't fit this in a single Discord message and I didn't want to break it up into parts while possibly dealing with responding to messages while trying to give you the whole story this seemed the easiest way to put it on a page. 

I was happy to see despite the issues to some degree the server growing and people getting helped by the community. I've taken ownership of the server and have been debating what to do with it. If you have any ideas let me know. I would also be willing to transfer it to any trusted members like the original manager or anyone else who has a vested interest in growing the LA gaming community.

Sorry again for disappearing during such a trying time, and for everyone hurt by the events revolving around the store's death sputter and Ebay debacle.

Hope you are all doing well and still having fun out there!