Who We Are…
The Influence Foundation was birthed by the mother of necessity, an essential factor in the equation of my sanity. I found an investor, quit my job, and set out on the quest of becoming a gaming journalist. I have surrounded myself with knowledge, capable allies who are aiding me in the pursuit. I love this hobby and desperately want to be a part of it professionally.
The GAMA Expo 2020 was my first show as an industry journalist, an industry only show. It was my first time to that specific expo since 2015, when I was elected to the GAMA Retail Board. That was short lived. I stepped down from the board months later in August of that year. I had a serious falling out with my employer at the time, Dave Wallace. I was no longer going to be a retailer and that spot belonged to someone who was.
Dave started a chain of hobby retail stores, based in St. Louis MO, back in 1981. Like many fantasy/sci-fi escapists in my town, those stores became an important part of my life. When I was a kid I desperately wanted to work there. As a young adult I got my chance. Over the course of thirteen plus years I worked through the ranks to become the company’s General Manager. For the last five years of my tenure, I oversaw the day-to-day operations of the company and its four locations. Alas, things ended. No worries, though. Dave and I are on decent terms today. He’s a wise man with a tremendous amount of experience in the hobby industry. I regret how I left, but not that I did. Dave is a genius and the hobby industry would not be what it is today without his efforts. If you are interested in becoming a brick-and-mortar hobby retailer I strongly suggest you read his book.
After leaving The Fantasy Shop, I served on the board of Geekway to the West for a few years. It’s a fantastic annually held board gaming convention in St. Louis, MO. Don’t take my word for it, ask Tom Vasel.
I spent a couple years working in the medical industry as a supply provider and technical support. Good hours, good benefits, and great pay couldn’t adequately compensate for getting “mother fuckered” on a near daily basis. It wasn’t hell, but clearly at some level demonic forces were being trafficked. One day, I received an email from Steve Lucinski, the owner of Miniature Market. Steve heard through a mutual friend that I was interested in getting back into the hobby industry. After a several interviews with him, and a few with the store’s manager, Stu, I was hired to be the Miniature Market’s Retail Event Coordinator. Worse hours, worse benefits, and a 20% pay cut? In order to work in the hobby industry again? Heck yeah! I was going home.
It was a good gig; I made some friends and had some laughs. I learned a lot about an aspect of the hobby industry to which I previously had limited exposure, online sales. That exposure was brilliant. Steve possesses great vision and he is wicked shrewd. Miniature Market is an impressive operation. If you are traveling through St. Louis, I urge you to make a trip. If you live in the St. Louis area, they are sure as shit an FLGS. I met quite a few great people while working there, co-workers and gaming fans alike. I’m fairly satisfied with my performance. It just wasn’t enough.
I needed to grok the hobby industry. In spite of my questionable professionalism and excessive potty language. So here I am having a go. I’d like for you to enjoy my work. More importantly, I hope you find it honest and interesting.