The Dragon and the Phoenix

… God, that sounds like a Bruce Lee movie…

I had said that I would talk about “the store” some day, and as I like to update this thing as often as I have time or energy (note the “or”…) I figured now was as good a time as any. But in order to give you the full story, I need to give you some history.

To anyone who lived in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Tri-State area, the name Dragon’s Den might seem familiar, but I’ll explain for everyone else. This was a small chain of three stores, two in Yonkers, New York, one somewhere in Connecticut, something of a combination comic book store/hobby shop, that later dabbled in video games.

Yeah, anyone familiar with business probably already knows how this story ends, but to their credit (?), that didn’t happen for a good fifteen years or so.

One of the Yonkers stores eventually closed, leaving only the one in Cross County, on the southern border. Since that’s now closed too, I’ll just say it: This store was a dump. It was too small and poorly-run to really be good for anything. There wasn’t a tournament area, for example. No, when an event was happening, people passing through tripped over you.

However, people shopped there for one reason: There wasn’t anywhere else. As far as comics goes, your only other choices were Comic Book Heaven (not a bad place, really, but I miss the old store front…) in White Plains, or Alternate Realities in Yonkers (More of a dump than Dragon’s Den). If you didn’t want to go there? Your choices were Compleat Strategist in the Bronx, and Neutral Ground in Manhattan (Even more of a dump than Alternate Realities). That last one is now thankfully closed, at least.

For some time, I played collectable card games, but all told, I don’t care for them much. Now that I have a consistent Dungeons & Dragons group, I have less need for such things.

At any rate, the Den wasn’t doing all that well. The shopping center wasn’t supporting it, doing a number of things to actually prevent it from making money, and then they raised their rent. Between this, and the fact that the shopping center was supposed to begin construction on a new parking garage just out their back door (this hasn’t happened yet), the owner of the place decided to scale back to the Connecticut store, and that was that.

However, some of the employees of the Den weren’t about to take this lying down, and Joel, proving that age does not always beget wisdom, sought to open his own store. Took him a long time, too, as he wanted to stay in Yonkers, but the zoning board wouldn’t let him. At least, that’s how Joel tells it, but I’ve little reason to doubt him.

He eventually found a place that would let him in: A former tanning salon in Eastchester. This became The Phoenix of Westchester. While it had more than enough space for a tournament area (I could probably fit the Dragon’s Den into it…), it was pretty secluded: On a sloped sidewalk, facing away from traffic and not really visible from the street.

Needless to say, not a lot of people came in, and his primary income came from Yu-Gi-Oh! players. The less said about this, the better. But this was the place where I got my group from, and it wouldn’t have happened without that.

As for why we moved out? Well, our needs had changed. It was less a business and more of a friendship, and thus, someone’s home felt more welcoming than a store… In particular, a nearly empty one.

Of course, at this rate, The Phoenix will be the next to go. If anyone knows of ANY gaming stores in this area, please, let me know. First the game shops, then the bookstores, it’s a mess, I tell you…

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