Black Friday set a new record for us, while not quite hitting the target I had hoped for. Pretty greedy, right? Sure, it was the best Black Friday yet, but what have you done for me lately.
At ground level, though, BF's robust sales and great footfall happened despite what we failed to do in preparation. We really just ran out of time. With the aftershock move of our Tempe store to Chandler and so much else going on, I didn't spend enough time in advance ordering up targeted inventory for the event, and I didn't have enough time to devise a promotional framework that would better straddle the various departments and reach more products, while still providing healthy returns and not training people to "shop the sale." A week or so out, I realized I had time to set this much up, and so I wrote it all down and did a bunch of setup myself and delegated the rest.
The promotional "deals" we offered by and large worked. (I'm not a fan of the way "deals" has become a euphemism for "offers" or "sale prices," but that is the apparently the parlance of our time in advertising right now.) This suggests that given enough time to tie in product groups, simplify, then expand to other groups, then consolidate and simplify, etc, ultimately encompassing a storewide promotion, we should see greater sales still next year.
Small Business Saturday was meh and Whatever Sunday Is Called was decent, outperforming the expectation. Yesterday was even good, a rare robust Monday thanks to a blast of online sales and higher-than-expected early-day visits. We expect to see a quieting now, a calm before the storm. Somewhere around December 9th, the light switch will go on and it will be bananas until Saturday the 23rd, and then from the 26th well into January.
Alas, the holiday weekend was marred by the announcement that the expert and famous cosplayer Christine Sprankle (@Cspranklerun), was departing the Magic community after enduring bullying and harassment by a certain YouTube personality whose name I won't mention and I'll explain why in a moment. For ease of reference, I will refer to him as Offender. The specifics of Offender's actions in this matter are well established elsewhere, and I won't revisit them here.
For those of you unfamiliar with the scene and the practice, cosplaying is far more than merely dressing in a costume and schmoozing around. Expert cosplayers typically create their wardrobe from scratch, or nearly so, and put tremendous time and resources into this process. The greatest degree of verisimilitude is their triumph and their prestige. And Cspranklerun is the best in the Magic: the Gathering scene. The world of MTG provides a rich assortment of characters, and her performances of e.g. Chandra Nalaar, Liliana Vess, Olivia Voldaren, and Archangel Avacyn are the gold standard now.
I have encountered Ms. Sprankle several times at industry events and she has always been friendly and gracious to me and everyone who I've accompanied, and conducts herself as a consummate professional. Her tormentor, Offender, is someone whom I cannot say the same about.
It's easy to look at Offender and say, oh, he's a typical chauvinist, or a typical alt-right agitator, or a typical bully, or whatever label seems to fit. But to label him and direct ire toward him or even retaliate against him is to miss the point. Offender runs a clickbait YouTube channel. He doesn't have to be right, he doesn't have to be sensible, he doesn't have to make you agree, and he doesn't have to make you disagree. He only has to make you watch. He is in the attention prostitution business.
Like Neil Peart famously said, "I don't believe a prostitute is an evil thing." But recognize what a prostitute is, and what it wants. A prostitute engages in behavior that elicits compensation from an audience. Literally, the euphemism of whoring reflects the reality that any given prostitute may not consider any particular behavior off-limits, no matter whether it might be socially questionable, if the result is that the whore gets paid. If Offender's whoring is for attention, any attention you provide to him is giving him what he wants. Controversy sells. Bait draws clicks. Views draw dollars. There's no such thing as "bad" publicity. And this is how Offender stays in "business," as he is a Patreon-based "content creator." When you tune in, Offender wins.
The best and greatest punishment the community can inflict upon Offender is to ignore him evermore.
Come on, people. We can do this.
Meanwhile it would probably help if Wizards of the Coast banned him or something. Lord knows they've banned others for less, in some cases questionably so. They had not made a statement as of the night before this article went live, but I am reasonably confident they will, and that any delay is/was simply a matter of the appropriate staff needing time to meet and deliberate on the matter.
And then I hope Cspranklerun will return and I hope everyone who enjoys her cosplay performances at the various conventions, events, and tournaments will provide a heartfelt word of appreciation to her. Even people who know they have friends and allies can feel awfully alone in the moment when a bully or harasser is doing their worst. I'd like for those on the receiving end of such abuse to have more confidence that the rest of us are there to back them up. The only way that's going to happen is if we demonstrate it.