Friday, February 5, 2010

End of an era

So ... about 18 months ago I borrowed $30,000 from my family and opened an internet LAN gaming center.  I found a partner, invested tons of time, and in a month we were open.  We have 10 high end decent gaming computers (they were high end when we put them together), two XBOX 360's, one Wii, a Pool Table, and a tabletop RPG Table.

About 6 months into the experience, things were getting difficult.  The shop wasn't making a profit.  Since the primary reason I opened it was to help my kids with their resume's, and they couldn't work for free because it wasn't family owned, this was a BIG problem for me.  There were other issues with the partnership, but the whys are largely irrelavant.  I made a buyout offer, and my partner freaked.  He cleared out everything he brought into the shop, from the freezer to the microwave to the TV stands.  Then, when things got worse, he came in and literally tore the wires from the backs of the machines (doing upwards of $1000 worth of damage), pushed over a customer, and more.  We were ousted by the police, and were locked out for 6 weeks while we settled this.  He finally settled with me (for less than my offer, in the end, so ... I was confused), and we re-opened last March.

Fast forward 6 months, and I got let go from my real job.  You know...the one that makes 6 figures and pays the bills.  As a family, we struggled for a bit, until I got my current job.  It's 80 miles away, and I can't (currently) telecommute, so it's putting me out of the house for 11-13 hours every day.  It sucks.  bad.  really.  But it pays the bills, and when you're used to making 6 figures, that's a lot to say.

Now comes the hard part, though.  With me being away, we're really starting to feel the strain as a family.  It isn't just that the shop is still losing money.  I could afford that (mostly).  It's that we haven't had dinner together as a family in over a year.  It's that we're starting to argue over who watches the shop when, or who picks up the non-driver who is watching the shop when all 3 drivers in the house have had horribly long days.  It's that my little kids are now in constant daddy withdrawls.  It's that I'm fighting, big time, with my wife over stupid stuff.

So ... with much crying ... we're shutting it down.  We're going to sell off some of it.  Large chunks of it will just be absorbed into our lives.  The computers aren't worth near enough to make a dent in the debt.  We need a new XBOX at the house.  So ... $30K later, we need to re-evaluate our position, let go, and move on.

The upside ... my kids are about to become the coolest. kids. ever.  With 15 networked PC's at the house, a 52" TV for watching TV, 3 40+" TV's for game stations, two XBOX 360's, two Wii's, a PS2, and probably a PS3 on it's way, I expect 9 to be a low-tide mark for the number of kids in my house at any given time.  I expect weekends to hover at 12-15.

The only thing I'm insisting has to go is the soda fridge.  Not that I can't afford to run it ... but with that many kidlets, I can't afford to stock it!

I think the kids are going to have a pretty easy time surviving this change.    I hope my wife and I do, too.

        aka: goofdad

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