Last week was not a good week for me. On Tuesday, I slipped and fell down some stairs. Luckily, the stairs were carpeted. However, I wouldn’t have slipped on them had they NOT been carpeted, so it’s kind of a double-edged sword. I have an enormous, horrific-looking bruise now, and it covers nearly all of my left butt-cheek. It’s still sore nearly a week later. I’m about to spend an entire weekend sitting on uncomfortable, convention center-type chairs; I see a lot of ibuprofen in my future.
Then on Wednesday, I got an early morning text from Lory at Pegasus Games, informing me that, since no buyer could be found and since the store was broke, they would be closing effective Sunday November 17. She made the official announcement later that day. The outpouring of sympathy was heartwarming. Since everything went on sale as soon as she made the announcement the store became crowded, and sales went through the roof as the vultures began to circle. It’s difficult not to feel bitter about this: had all these people been in the store shopping a couple of months ago, things would have been a bit better for the store, and perhaps the closing wouldn’t have needed to be so sudden. Gamers are extremely price-sensitive creatures, and a great many buy their goods through online outlets to get the best price. While this is by no means the sole cause of Pegasus Games’s downfall, it surely didn’t help.
Pegasus Games lasted for 39 years — a remarkable run in retail, and even more so for such a niche market shop as a game store. Lory had been the managing partner of the store for nearly that entire time, so she was more than ready for a change, which was the impetus for selling the store in the first place. In the end, for the potential buyers there were too many obstacles, many of which seemed to be realizing that running a retail establishment is actual work, even if the people working there now made it seem easy and fun.
All this reminds me of a group that used to hold sessions at Pegasus’s gaming room. One of the leaders of this group used to brag to me about how many people they gathered for their weekly event. However, it was rare that any of those same folks would buy anything in the store. They used to take up a collection to cover using the entire 60+ seat gaming space every Tuesday night, but often couldn’t manage even $1 per person to cover the expense of light and heat and keeping other gamers from using the space that night of the week. In fact, one of their members openly boasted – often and to anyone who would listen – about how he’d never spent a dime at Pegasus. As soon as staff heard that, that particular person was booted out and asked not to return. Years later, that group seemed baffled that Lory asked them to find another space in which to game. Gamers can also be a little thoughtless at times, just like the rest of humanity. Pegasus Games’ existence has nearly always been hand to mouth: money was always tight, particularly in the slow months of January-February, and August-September. Those slow months could have done in the store at any time along those 39 years; this was that year.
I spent the rest of the week in a funk, putting ice packs on my ass and lamenting the loss of a Madison, Wisconsin institution. It hurts deeply to lose Pegasus – a store I’ve been directly associated with for more than 35 years – as an employee, a customer, and as a friend – but life will go on. For gamers, there are still several very good game stores in the Madison area — I’m Board (http://www.imboardgames.com/) and Noble Knight Games (https://www.nobleknight.com/) both come immediately to mind — and a couple more not quite as good but still decent enough. Gaming will continue in the Badger State without Pegasus of course, but it will be a little more melancholy for me from now on.
This week I’ll be attending GameHoleCon ( https://gameholecon.com/ ) in Madison, Wisconsin. I’ll be running games of Pugmire and D&D 5E/Scarred Lands on Thursday and Friday, and helping out in the Onyx Path booth the rest of the time. Seats for my games are entirely sold out, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had, and plenty of seats still available for many other events including board games, card games, and role playing games of every possible description. Come on by and see what all the fun is about!