Picture it -- here I am, a person that likes to create. I conceptualize and build, tinker, and love to experiment. It's in my nature.
Running a retail store is an entirely different beast compared to that. Where I am used to sticking behind the counter and soldering or otherwise fixing electronics for people, owning my own shop has caused me to experience things I would not have otherwise seen or done. I am grateful for that, and I will never forget it. Three years may seem like a short period of time, but when it's you, non-stop, for that long, the things you see are kind of imprinted upon you, like ruts in a well-traveled wagon trail.
Someone that sells watches and timepieces for a living can be passionate about their histories and intricacies. Set them down at the worktable though to replace the balance spring in one of those same watches and they'll become flustered, bored, or confused. They're out of their element at the worktable and do much better at keeping the history and selling the product. In other words, there are business people, and then there are engineers. There are thinkers, and then there are dreamers.
Where does that leave the business person that needs to have a technical edge? Usually a company hires a CTO or CSO. That would leave them free to focus on all of the other aspects of running a business. The shop has actually been profitable for a bit, and it hasn't lost me any money for at least a year now, but I am at the point where I cannot run it, have a day job, attend college classes, volunteer for conventions, and do electronics repair house calls, all at the same time. I need some free time to myself to just unwind and relax. Everyone should experience at least one eight hour period of sleep at least once every few months, after all!
What will I do next? I've got ideas. I have never had a shortage of things that I have wanted to try or bring to life. Although my physical shop will be gone after September 30th of this year, I will still be in my garage, inventing, tinkering, and planning. There is a beautiful Capcom Bowling in there that needs a new JAMMA harness. I also have my grandfather's 1967 Gottlieb Sing Along pinball machine that needs a little love and care. Stuart has his own ideas about what he wants to do (3D printing). I am also looking into an event services type of business that provides electronic entertainment resources to conventions and private parties.
Besides, the Penn Hills Game Exchange, while it will cease to be as a thing, is not "truly" dead and gone. Pittsburgh has a huge, thriving indie and retro gaming community, of which I will still be an active and participating member. I will still hang around the Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Facebook page, attend meetups, and volunteer at many of my friend's shops and stores around the area. You'll probably see my legs sticking out of the back of an arcade cabinet or two, and I can guarantee that you'll see me set up at Steel City Con and other shows. It just wont have the blue banner with the orange joystick. It'll be...me! I'll still buy and sell games, except that now I will get most of my stock from hunting out deals, going to flea markets, attending auctions, and the like. Stuart will be there by my side through it too. Really, not much is changing at all. Don't think about this like the store is closing. Instead, think about it as a new opening. The Penn Hills Game Exchange is everywhere now, not just a damp, dimly-lit storefront.
So as someone who buys, sells, and trades watches, I love it and would do it again if I had the free time to devote to making it the best watch shop that it can be. Unfortunately, I don't think that I can right now at this point in my life. I will have to set it aside for now, but that does not mean that I can't take a few Rolexes apart for a friend's shop, or volunteer for a timepiece convention here or there. All it means is that I have freed myself of the obligation to keep a physical space to do those things outside of my home. Read the full post... about The Watchmaker's Dillema.