Tomorrow is Redcap’s 10th anniversary! To celebrate, we’ll be offering 10% off all physical products all day long, as well as providing free pizza after 6 to anyone who feels like coming by for a game or two! I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about two things: first, a brief history of our little business, and then I wanted to revisit some goals I set last year.
We opened our doors on February 6th, 2009, amazingly managing to sell out an unofficial (and more-or-less un-advertised) release tournament for Conflux, the Magic set that released the same day. We had formed our legal entity about a year earlier, as four friends–Bonsky, Carlos, Kettner, and Benn–with the goal of bringing a home base for gaming to Philly, near Penn or Drexel. We were all in our 20s and none of us had any business experience or money, but we were enthusiastic and motivated.
We had originally wanted to sell comics too, but after months of researching, writing a business plan, and getting our legal status cemented, we began to hear rumours that Video Library at 41st and Locust had started carrying comics and was considering dabbling in games. So–despite having no leads on funding or a location–we approached them, and explained what we had been working on. Without any hesitation at all, the owner reached out his hand and said “I won’t do gaming if you don’t do comics”, and suddenly the stakes were higher.
A few months later, we weighed our options and decided to take advantage of the $20,000 credit limit one of us had, subletting a corner of that very same video shop, and actually making our dream a reality. Almost right away, Kettner realized shop ownership wasn’t for him and sold his share to Adam, and within a few months we had outgrown (and subsequently expanded) our space. After only a year or so in business, we ended up expanding again and taking over Video Library’s lease as they closed up shop.
But we still weren’t big enough to handle Philly’s gaming needs, and our landlord was looking to buy us out of our lease in order to rent to more upscale tenants, so in early 2011, we moved from Locust Steet to Lancaster Avenue and began a new chapter. Carlos, who had never intended on staying with us for the long haul, decided not to accompany us for the move, and a year or so later, we bought Bonsky out too.
We really blossomed on Lancaster Avenue, and started to become the game shop we always wanted to be. In the summer of 2014 we even opened a second location on Baltimore Avenue, with the goal of catering more to family gamers. As the end of our first lease term grew near, however, we started wondering if we maybe still needed more space at our primary location, and began to look around. We had more or less resolved to stay another year or two when lease negotiations soured and we were essentially forced into moving (again).
Moving to our current space at 3850 Lancaster Avenue in the fall of 2015 was something we definitely wanted to do, and we had already started to feel the limitations of our previous space, but it was a very expensive fit-out and move, and we weren’t ready for it. It also didn’t help that the first Magic prerelease after our move fell on the weekend of the pope’s visit, when Philly’s streets were essentially shut down, further imperiling our finances. That move took money and attention away from our satellite store, and really stunted its growth, ultimately leading to its closing in the summer of 2017.
But here we are, it’s 2019, and we’ve had a few rocky years as we grew into our space, but I’m pleased to report we’ve made major strides in catching up. Last year, I set tomorrow’s anniversary as the date by which I wanted to have a number of major improvements to both our business and our space implemented, and I’m a little disappointed to say we accomplished almost none of them. I’m much more encouraged to announce, however, that we’ve actually made a lot of behind-the-scenes progress toward all of them, and I still believe we’ll check off every item on that list this year, some of them in very short order.
2018 was a tough year for us financially, but we’ve buckled down and done a lot of work to turn that around, and 2019 is looking extremely promising so far. My goals last year were ambitious, considering our circumstances, but they haven’t changed, and you should finally begin to see the fruits of our hard work in no time at all. Thanks for all your support these last ten years! We intend to keep serving you for many years to come.