"THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING"
So it was about June, 1999 and I found myself without a second job. I was actively seeking something in an office environment, but nothing was showing up. Money was getting VERY tight as the store was not bringing in enough to cover itself and me both. I was starting to get paranoid that I wouldn't find a job in time and was considering trying to go back to McDonald's to make sure I had a steady income and the store could just support itself. In July, 1999 my sister in law had told me that they were hiring an office clerk where she worked. I knew in high school I could type really fast (about 110 words per minute) and felt I could do this job. It's typing and sorting, I sort stuff all the time at the shop. I went ahead and put in my application. When I went for the interview I was still unsure if I wanted the job, the drive and having to change the store's hours but I went anyways. I took a typing test and was barely hitting 60 words per minute. I told them how fast my fastest speed was and they offered me the job in the hopes that I could get to that speed again. That's when I started working at The Papers, Inc. in Milford, Indiana. It was a first shift job from 7 am to 3 pm so the new hours had to start very quickly. This is when I started opening the shop at 4 pm on weekdays with the hopes that whoever couldn't make it in would come in on Saturday or Sunday.
December 31, 1999: The world is waiting and wondering if it will happen. Are all the predictions true? Of course, I'm talking about the crazy Y2K virus. Most people thought nothing would happen with this, but as time was ticking by I have to admit part of me got curious. It was a theory that since most of the world is run by computers that when the clock ticked the year over to "00" the computer's internal clock would crash the system and everything related to it. This would mean a stock market crash, no electricity, the internet gone and all electronics with clocks dead and a post apocalyptic scenario could happen. As the clock was ticking closer to midnight I found myself out just out of Fort Wayne, Indiana watching fireworks but I was mainly paying attention to the city in the distance. I wanted to see if the city was gonna go dark. Of course nothing happened and life continued on like normal, but it was a very interesting time to experience and observe people's behavior/expectations of Y2K.
In March of 2000 video gaming was up for a big change. This is when Sony decided to release the Playstation 2 to the market! Having been a huge Playstation 1 fan made me really want this console and I had never purchased a console on release at this point. I really didn't have the money to purchase it, but I was barely getting to play an Magic the Gathering these days. I was really starting to change my focus towards video games more. I decided I didn't need my Beta Black Lotus and sold it on ebay. Now yes, I regret this decision today but I got a good amount for what it was worth at the time. So anytime someone regrets selling something in the past, I tell them if they got a good price at the time then they need to try not to be too upset about it. We all make mistakes that we regret, but we can't live in the past. Having sold my Lotus I now requested the day off of work and went and camped out at my local Walmart. They were going on sale at 4 am and I was determined to get one. I got there about 10 pm and was second in line. That was gonna be a long 6 hours. Of course this was the days we didn't just have a smart phone in our pocket and had to find ways to pass the time (which was more difficult without being able to bring in entertainment). When 4 am hit I was now the proud owner of a launch system! When I was checking out I even saw Pernell further down the line. So it appears we both had the same idea. ;) I purchased the Playstation 2 and Tekken Tag Tournament since I had been a huge fan of Tekken 3 on the PS1. People usually say that launch systems tend to die off or have problems but not this one. This is the exact same system we use in the shop to test all the PS2 games before we sell them! It is still kicking and reading discs great.
Now of course the PS2 system being at my store did make it so that I was spending too much time playing it with friends and not getting enough work done, but at this time collections of things didn't flood us like they do today. (Yes, this is the days of old CRT TVs) I decided my store needed it's own store logo (you know, like all the big businesses out there). I looked at the old photo of a chimp I had hanging in the store and decided I could draw that and make it into a logo. I spend a bit of time tweeking it and scanning it into the computer. Over time I didn't really like the way the letters looked on the logo and Greg said he could tweak it on the computer in Photoshop. This is also when Greg started teaching me Photoshop (which I would later use at my job at The Papers). I could also use this program to start making better flyers then I had been. I used to cut images out of the Previews Catalog and had to tape the picture on the flyer and hand write the info on it.
In September, 2000 Magic released the beginning of the new Invasion Block. This set hit pretty huge at the time and brought about some new multicolored cards that were very popular. Cards such as Absorb, Undermine, Aura Shards, Phyrexian Altar, Phyrexian Scuta, Lord of the Undead and enemy color pain lands are among a few of the popular cards from the block. Tribal Magic decks started to see a rise, especially with all the zombies in the block. This was one of my personal favorite blocks. It has slowed down a little bit with the prior block, but with the release of Invasion was back on the rise again.
Now starting to learn Photoshop more and more, Greg and myself started working on doing some new computer generated magic proxies for fun. Greg and I would do the layouts and Photoshop work while Pernell and Riggle sanded down cards and glued the new image on top. We each took turns coming up with ideas and agreeing on pictures. If you enjoy old school Magic, have some fun and try to figure out which of these cards are which. Most of these were pretty popular cards of the era.
My good friend Spore was working most Sundays for me at this point so that I could have at least 1 day off a week but his schedule was getting full as well. It was around October, 2000 when he realized that he couldn't fit it in his schedule any more and I realized the amount of customer's we would have on Sundays coupled with the small sales made it easy for me to decide to start closing on Sundays. Some of the Sundays we were open we would receive only 1 customer or less. That wasn't worth the time to stay open and pay someone to work or not have a day off. It seemed like closing this day every week wouldn't affect the bottom line. In the end, I feel it was the right decision and it didn't seem to have any affect on the store.
Also right around this time, Marvel started their Ultimate line of comics premiering with Ultimate Spider-man #1. The idea behind this line of books were what if the characters got their powers and origin stories at the current times as opposed to the 1960's. How would this change what the characters would become and how would they deal with current issues at younger ages. Ultimate Spider-man was written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Mark Bagley (a long standing artist on Amazing Spider-man). This was Bendis's breakout hit that put his name on the map. Characters could be radically changed due to the time period. With the success of Ultimate Spider-man, Marvel expanded their Ultimate line. They added titles for X-Men, Fantastic Four, Avengers (known as Ultimates), Iron Man, Daredevil and many more characters. Ultimates was written by Mark Millar (writer of Kick Ass, Kingsmen and many more projects either adapted or being adapted for film) and drawn by Brian Hitch. This title did fall extremely behind schedule but gave the Avengers a much more serious adult tone without being an adults only book. As the books progressed and had their own big events Marvel actually killed off Peter Parker. He was replaced by a new younger Spider-man named Miles Morales who has recently become even more popular due to the Into the Spider-Verse animated movie.
So our Video Game selection just kept on growing in size. I had shown you picture of how many video games we started with, and here is a picture Roy had that shows some of the growth to this period. You can see in this glass case about 150 Nintendo and Super Nintendo cartridges. The white stand up behind the R.O.B. the Robot NES sign is actually the same Darth Maul that still resides in our store to this day. I had wooden shelves added to the back wall that were just big enough to hold PS1/PS2 cases so we could line them up front facing out.