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The Weekly Grind - January 1st, 2023 Newsletter

Welcome to the new year! Let's hope this one goes by a little more smoothly than last year.


First, a little backstory on me. Back in 2010, I was volunteering at a youth outreach New Year's Eve lock-in, I was talking to someone about resolutions and committing to change for the upcoming year. I've never liked that idea. It's not always realistic and puts a lot of pressure on you right at the beginning of the year. So, I started creating little goals for myself for the whole year. Little things I wanted to experience, learn, try, or accomplish. A friend suggested I call it a "Bowl List" because a Bucket List is something you want to do before you die, and this list is shorter, and smaller... so bowl.

I've been creating a bowl list every year for 13 years. I post my list on my Facebook and several friends have taken up the challenge. Feel free to adopt this tradition for yourself. Some of my past goals have been, "go to a Chicago Baseball game", "learn to crochet", "try belly dancing", "take a class/get a certification", "read 200 books", "visit a new state", "see 3 plays/musicals", and so on.

For 2023, I created one for Critical Grind.

These are goals for the company as a whole, and some will overlap a bit with my personal bowl list as I am responsible for them.

Critical Grind's 2023 Bowl List

  • Start taking online orders (not delivery)

  • Post to our socials, every day

  • Strengthen our relationships with publishers & creators

  • By the end of 2023, have 2,000 Facebook Followers and 1,000 Instagram Followers

  • Increase our retail section

  • Have more people in the cafe during the weekdays

  • Have 50 library subscribers

  • Schedule 6 more off-site game events for employee engagement or public events at breweries/libraries/cafes

  • Improve my latte foam-art skills

  • Visit 1 new-to-us BIG event/convention

  • Participate in 3 new-to-us local events/conventions

We're also working on our event ideas for this year. We have so many things we'd like to do. Some ideas came from you, our wonderful customers, some came from Reddit posts of things people wished their local game stores did, and some are just events we would love to see happen.

We would love to know your interest level in these events, so if you're still with us, below there is a link to a Form for your responses. We always appreciate the feedback.

2023 Event Ideas

  • Developer Event: A night where people who are currently creating board games can bring them in and participants can learn and play these games. As play-testers, you'll be able to provide your feedback on the game to help improve it. Find the errors in the rules or mechanics. Break the game, so the creator(s) can fix it before taking it to publish.

  • Paint Event: Paint a miniature with us. While we still are working out the logistics of this event, we have some ideas. This could be a Paint-and-Take event that has a ticket fee that includes a miniature and access to our paints & brushes. This could be a free event for participants to bring their own miniatures and materials and we simply provide the space to form a community. This could be a combination where painters can bring their own mini or buy one of ours. It's still being figured out.

  • Trivia Event: We would have so much fun hosting themed trivia nights. Whether we would be running them ourselves, or hiring a company to come in, is still up in the air. Were we to hire a company, we may need to charge for the event.

  • Game Company Host Event: We have been building our relationships with publishers for a few years and this is one of the most exciting events we've been wanting to do. To have an event focused on 1 specific game company, have members of the company come out, help demo games, answer questions, preview upcoming releases or kickstarters, and maybe even sign games.

  • Craft Event: We are a gaming cafe but we're more than that. We're a cozy coffee shop to create a community. As a crafter myself, I think it would be so much fun to host a local crafter meet-up. Some people work better with other people around, so let's have a creative co-craft space where people can sit together and crochet, knit, make jewelry, paint, or whatever. (please no glitter. I'm still finding some from Christmas)

  • Chamber Night Event: As a member of the PSACC, Plainfield Shorewood Area Chamber of Commerce, hosting a chamber night would be exciting. To invite our community leaders and business neighbors into our cafe for a night of networking and fun.

  • Cosplay Event: Shaun made a few connections at the Soundgrowler Comic & Cosplay Market with some people who seemed very excited to help us plan a cosplay day event at the cafe.

  • Local Artisan Market: Indoor craft shows and vendor markets are picking up left and right. A friend of mine coordinates the events at breweries in the West Suburbs and I think it would be a great time to host one here at the cafe.

  • Gaymer Meetup: As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and a proud supporter of Naper Pride, Plainfield Pride, and Joliet Pride, I'd love to host a board game event and meetup for the surrounding area pride groups to get together and play games. I haven't talked to any of them about this yet, but I think it would be a lot of fun.

  • Miniature War Gaming: I've been informed we don't have tables big enough for Warhammer, but it has come to my attention that there are other miniature games out there that don't need as much space. If you are interested in coordinating a miniature event, and we have the space for it, reach out and we'll set something up. I don't know enough about it to run it or set it up myself, but I'm happy to do what I can to accommodate those who do.

  • Youth D&D/RPG event: The children are our future... or something like that. So, let's get them into role-playing games. We want to run some small role-playing groups for new young players. Role-playing games teach communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and patience. They also can provide a great sense of community and friendship.

  • Learn to Play Coordination: Not just in-development games, but come learn games you've maybe never heard of. But these aren't run by us, they're run by our other customers! Do you have a game you love but people don't know about it, or you have a game you've been trying to get to the table but you just don't have the people to play with you? Join our Critical Grind - Gaming Meet Up Group on Facebook and let us help you coordinate a meet up for your game.

  • Game Tournaments: This has been a requested event. We're still working out logistics as to the structure of the events, sign-up, prizes, etc... but we've had some game suggestions. Feel free to chime in with your own as well. Smash Up, King of Tokyo, Chess, (Abstract Strategy in general), KLASK, Coup

  • Loot Swap: I saw this idea on Reddit. People bring in games or cards they don't want anymore. But no money exchanges hands. The person 'buying' the item, adds money to their store credit account, or a gift card. Now that I've typed that out, I don't actually know why anyone would participate in that. Maybe that's not a great idea. Maybe just bring in games you don't want or like to trade with people, and anything you don't get rid of, you can donate to the cafe for a discount on your next purchase.

  • Deception and Deduction Night: Are You A Werewolf, We're Doomed, Coup, Among Thieves, One Night Ultimate Werewolf/Alien/Vampire, Dead Last, Are You The Cultist, Growl, Sabatour, Love Letter, Avalon, J'Acusse. We want to host a late night where we play some of these games, and more.

  • Murder Mystery Event: Along the same vein as the above, it could be a lot of fun to host a pop-up murder mystery night. I'm thinking we'd do it off-site, catered food, sell limited tickets.

This feels like a lot for 1 year, and maybe it is. We might not get to all of these. But then I'll save some for the next year. Then again, there are 365 days in a year, and as of right now, we're only going to be closed 55 of them. So, plenty of time for activities!

If you've stuck it out this far, here is the link to the GoogleForm. I've copied these event ideas and descriptions. Check off which one's you'd be interested in or excited about. If you have notes or suggestions, put them in the "Other" box.

I have opinions!

My favorite podcast, Ladies & Tangents, does a thing where they pick a word for their upcoming year. My word last year was Perseverance. I persevered through losses, setbacks, depression, conflicts, and construction, all the way to building a brick-and-mortar business. For 2023 my word is Flourish: "To grow vigorously; succeed; thrive; prosper."

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