Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne shares a letter on coping with the coronavirus era from Mary Alice Wilson of Dark Star Books in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Remember that column from a couple of weeks ago when I asked how stores were coping with shutdowns and what they saw for the future?  I received the following response, reprinted with her permission, from Mary Alice Wilson, owner of Dark Star Books in Yellow Springs, Ohio:

Dark Star is doing ok with eBay and one employee.  Our comic guy that we laid off is getting the unemployment boost to his check.  The check is for more than his salary.  He was hinting it would be good thing if he stayed laid off.  And that we hire a newbie.  Kate wasn't good with that idea!

Our Gov. De Wine just announced plans for the future.  First doctor, dentist and then veterinarian.  Then construction and factory work.  And on May 12, WE can open.  Already have the $335 plastic shield at cash register.  Trying to buy a large hand sanitizer dispenser for at the front door, which is  hard to find.  However, I could see Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon TCG games with a plastic shield between the players across from each other.  I don't really know much about gaming, but it might work.

One of our staff has been making masks like a demon, and today I saw one with clear plastic over the mouth area, so folks a little hard of hearing, like me, can read lips a bit.  I either have to have visitors lift the mask up or have someone tell me what they said.  Getting folks to just talk louder doesn't seem to be in my skill set.  Our staff mask-maker said, "Oh yes, I know about those."  Well, MAKE some, for goodness sake.  I wouldn't know how.  I said, there is one thing a comic book store has, is plastic, and Mylar.

Hoarding is great!  I don't know why I bought, and much less KEPT, bathroom decals from the 30s; a whole box full of boxed 12" figures from the 70s (well I know NOW it was a good idea, best one sold for  $400); boxes full of Mads and Cracked and Warren mags like Vampirella.  We have a double house and the other side was where we put stuff we didn't know what to do with after we bought it, or stuff that came in while buying things we DID know what to do with.  But along comes our staff member Kate and her pop culture know-how, and all that stuff now has price tags.  Being in the book biz means we had hoarded lots of first editions for when we got an on-line presence.  Well we have that now, and 1,700+ items currently listed.  Some of the things that sell are from early days.  We sold something the other day that had been on eBay for 10 years, maybe, and I cringed at the way it was listed and the price - too low - but hey, it sold, that's all good.

Where do I sell online?  eBay, baby!  And Abe and Amazon.  Gary does Abe, which is strictly books.  He also does Amazon, and Kate and staff do eBay, and the latter does amazingly well.  If there is someone out there that wants to pay some outrageous price (and remember this is being available to everyone in the world with an Internet device), that person can find us.  They would NEVER find us on our website.  The most looked-at items on our website are cat pictures.  (They are really cool; Kate finally put up a video.)  Really glad to hear from you.

Once again, if you have any thoughts on the future of Organized Play, the game store model or game stores in general, send them to  Thanks and stay safe.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of