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 some memories of the late Marcus King.

Several texts and messages two weeks ago announced the heartbreaking news that Marcus King had passed away following triple heart bypass surgery (see "R.I.P. Marcus King").  He'd gone into the hospital following a heart attack over the weekend, and was optimistic about the surgery, although he did have some concerns as he went over store operating procedures with his family and told everyone one more time how much he loved his wife, Kimberly Spindle, and his kids.  Sadly, his concern proved prescient.

I asked a few people to comment on King’s effect on them.  Responses, with their permission, are below:

"I am an insurance broker, but also a big geek!!  So, I've read the ICv2 daily emails for years.  Many of Marcus’s columns I have used to train my fellow insurance brokers especially his columns about 'his first rule for his employees,' 'is the customer always right,' and 'the shop owner is always right'.  Marcus had the best advice on business regardless of the type of business.  I have enjoyed the Facebook Live sales too.  I do wish I had been able to make a trip to the Kentucky store and thank him in person for his wise advice and counsel! He will be sorely missed." - Mary Miller, Senior Broker Workman’s Comp at Arlington/Roe.

"I met Marcus via Facebook last year.  He was so nice and helpful.  We made a lot of positive changes to our store this year because of his advice which has made us more profitable doing a more efficient job.  I am so thankful for what I learned from him." - Leslie Frolich, owner Comic Realms.

I knew Marcus (he said once that he went by Mark for years and only started using Marcus when he got more heavily into the games industry as there was another Mark King at the time) for over 20 years and several things stand out in my mind from our friendship.  He loved attending the GAMA Trade Show but almost never sat in on programming, preferring instead to find a table or a group of chairs and sit for hours talking games and retailing.

For a few years at Gen Con, under the Titan Games banner, he had a huge booth in the dealer’s hall at which he would sell board games, miniatures and RPGs he had purchased at liquidation.  With a promotion of "Buy One, Get 2 Free," he sold thousands of items at prices well above cost during the course of the show.  He always seemed at his happiest when he was either buying and selling items or talking about his family or pets.  When he was actively running an Amazon store, he liked to spend weekends visiting flea markets and other locations, looking for items he could buy and resell on the website.  In more recent years, he had discovered gift shows and he and Kim would visit two or three a year, with a standing invitation to any other retailer to join them if they wished.  Sadly, I never took him up on the offer.

Marcus did not suffer fools or rude customers, which he referred to as "derps."  However, he had a soft spot for the kids that came into the store, often giving them a small item even if they didn’t purchase anything.  One of my favorite Marcus stories:

Kid and his grandfather come into the store.  After looking around, the kid finds a small item and they bring it to the counter.  Grandfather pays for the item and tells the kid to thank Marcus, which the kid does.  Marcus looks at the kid and says, "No, I should be thanking you and you should thank him," looking at the grandfather, "After all, you bought it from me and he’s the one who bought it for you." Quintessential Marcus.

Going to miss you, buddy.

If you would like to watch the funeral service, you can see it here and a GoFundMe page to help cover medical costs is here.  Send any thoughts you have about Marcus to:

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