My journey with Magic: the Gathering has extended longer than I ever anticipated and, during that journey, I’ve been lucky enough to serve my local gaming community as an employee of my local gaming store, Clockwork Games and Events. As it has been about a year since I first officially began this job (my first ever!), I wanted to commemorate it by writing an article that details my experiences as a female LGS employee and what I’ve learned from them. I hope you’ll at least give this a scan, if not a full read and feel free to drop me a question or comment in my ask box!
Simply put, I decided on trying to get a job at a card shop because I enjoyed Magic: the Gathering and I thought it would be fun. I’d never had a job before and I really enjoyed getting back into Magic as I entered college. I went into it without much knowledge on how to run a shop or what kind of detail went into preparing a LGS for the customer base they’d be expecting. I had hoped that working in a shop would expand my knowledge of the game and the cards that were printed before I began playing and I started helping out at my LGS before even applying just so I would get an idea of what was expected.
After familiarizing myself with Wizards Event Reporter and learning how to run tournaments, I started learning current card prices for the Standard environment. I was still fairly new and at the time, Mirrodin Besieged was the most recent set. To get really familiar, I drafted twice a week with friends and got to know not only the set but also the local players, the “regulars” of the shop. I found fast friends in the card shop frequenters and as I became a part of the community, I became even more convinced that working at a card shop was what I really wanted to do.
A lot of work went into proving myself as a good employee (especially since I didn’t have any job experience prior) but I finally got hired on and began work. Back then, the shop I work in was in a much smaller location. We really only sold Magic: the Gathering packs, singles, and accessories and some Yu-Gi-Oh! packs, singles, and accessories. We had a DnD group that played around once a week and about 4 Magic tournaments a week. I worked the nights where we had those tournaments and often one more day a week. I enjoyed being able to serve the community I had become such good friends with and I came into work pretty excited and happy every day.
And here’s where the story might go a little bit sour. Like any environment that you’re in pretty constantly with the same people, drama and gossip occur. Think high school. During the time that I’ve worked, I’ve received a lot of negative criticism. I’ve had people judge my ability to know card prices and the game in general. I’ve had them make cracks at me for what I wear. I’ve been whistled at, catcalled at, stared at (both creepily and mean-mugged ((I love that phrase, though)) ), and more. It was rough, admittedly. Having people come in and ask me if I knew anything about Magic (really? I’m a card shop employee….) infuriated me. Catching people staring at me inappropriately made me feel like an object. And I even had people ask me to get things off of high shelves and low ones so they could get a better look at me. As flattering as it might be to have people tell you you’re visually appealing, this sort of behavior ended up making me upset. I wanted to be valued for my knowledge of the game and my ability to help a customer with card-related inquiries. Sure, a lot of my sales were high, but my spirits were pretty low.
But, while I had a hard time dealing with that, I made a lot of really great friends. The owner of the shop was and still is someone I can always go to for advice. He’s a man I respect and look up to. I made my closest lady friend through frequenting and working at the shop and she’s been a pretty constant part of my life since. I met and am still meeting people at the card shop that so positively influence my life that the negative experiences I’ve been through seem nearly insignificant.
I was unhappy to have to leave the shop to visit China for a couple of months but I wanted to achieve my higher dreams of traveling and teaching so I took the plunge. Thankfully, I knew my job would be waiting for me when I got back. Admittedly, I did need a bit of a break from some of the work drama that had been going on as well. Upon returning, I was greeted with an AMAZING new place. The shop had just moved to a location that was at least 3 times bigger than the last. I was a little frightened that I wouldn’t be able to catch up on all that I had missed but my time away had really given me a good perspective on my experiences in a LGS community. I came back with more confidence that I could handle any drama or problems. I had a drive to learn how to handle the bigger and much more demanding shop. It was wonderful to feel that way. I learned the new systems as quickly as I could and I was happy to be there, a feeling that has stuck since I returned.
I feel like the shop is continuously growing and the change/growth I see in myself is proportional. I’ve become so passionate about being able to serve the gaming community and I keep wanting to learn more and more about games to expand my knowledge. I’ve learned how to take any personal problems and (mostly) keep them out of the workplace. I’ve learned how to properly handle a problem at the store and how to calm a situation that’s getting out of hand. I’ve learned when I need to be stern and when I can be friendly (admittedly, I’d like to be friendly all the time but there’s circumstances where it gets misinterpreted). I’ve learned that I have the ability to stand up for myself without sounding rude about it. And countless other skills.
It’s a bit of a trial to work in a place that you’d also like to spend personal time in. I haven’t been able to regularly play Magic in quite some time. But running my blogs keeps me in “the know” and interacting with players online and in the store makes me happy. I’ve been very lucky to work where I do and I’ve been lucky to work with the people I’ve worked with. I’ll even venture to say I’m lucky to have gone through the experiences I’ve had to (even the negative ones!) because they really did help me grow. It’s been a unique experience and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything else. There’s something about going through a lot of frustration and coming out on the other end of a bad situation that makes you feel proud and accomplished.
So, to close, here’s what I’ve learned as a female LGS employee:
- There are friends where you might least expect them.
- At some point, EVERYONE is watching you. O_O
- Making mistakes with change is fine. Just apologize.
- Dropping a box of Magic cards (especially those recently sorted) is NOT FINE. That’s nightmare territory.
- Apologizing is a useful skill. Especially when you’re clumsy.
- Someone (or even a group of people) is not going to like you. No reason. They just don’t. And they will make that known.
- There’s gossip. About you. Most if it is erroneous. It doesn’t matter AT ALL.
- Your personal life has NOTHING to do with how well you can serve a customer in a LGS.
- Sometimes being friendly gets misinterpreted. Go figure.
- It’s okay to ask a customer to come back to the counter at a more convenient time! Especially on busy nights.
- No, you don’t have to get that thing off that high shelf for someone who just wants to stare at your butt.
- Kneel down instead of bending over to pick up anything off the floor.
- Get used to standing. A lot.
- You’re a respectable lady. Even if you aren’t, you should be treated like one at your job.
- You don’t have to let anyone get away with treating you badly. But you do have to make sure not to make the situation worse.
- It’s busy. A lot.
- You are not a maid. However, cleaning can be necessary.
- Joking around is encouraged. It keeps things light. (Being plain rude or hurtful with jokes is NOT encouraged)
- There’s normally a friend around to help you if you need it.
- Grateful customers are the best.
- I wish I got tips. Tips on tips, son.
- Singles lists can be a pain but it’s a good way to learn about old cards!
- You do a lot more at a card store than sell cards.
- Cleaning a bathroom is NOT SCARY. The smell in the men’s room, is. Febreeze time, SON.
- There is no greater happiness for a sales associate than to see a customer excited, happy, and grateful for your help. The interactions can be so enjoyable.
I hope you’ve had a little bit of fun reading this. It was enjoyable to write! Hopefully, it lets you in to my life a little bit more (since I don’t write a lot of articles!).
A big thanks to all my followers, old and new, for making this blog as big as it’s gotten. Even more thanks to Clockwork Games and Events for allowing me to work in an amazing environment! And EVEN MORE thanks to the friends and family that have helped me through my rough spots!