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Exploring Life & Business with Alex Crespo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Crespo.

Hi Alex, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Back in late 2020, a friend of mine came to me with the idea to start our own game store in Baltimore city.

The plan was to buy and sell new and pre-owned board games, video games, and trading cards, among other things.

I was living in Northern Virginia at the time and between jobs, and personally consider all three of those game types to be hobbies of mine, so I was immediately interested in his proposal.

Fast-forward to January 2021 and I’ve just finished moving to Baltimore city. My friend and I, along with two other friends of ours opened up our store, Silver Canon, in a small office on the 3rd floor of the 1100 Wicomico building in historic Pigtown.

The four of us started small and personal, opting to do the vast majority of our sales online through eBay for video games and TCGplayer for trading cards. We were willing to dip into our own personal collections for things to sell since we each had a variety of games or cards that were valuable.

Over the next year, we sold hundreds of games and cards online as we waited for the building we were in to open up some 1st-floor retail space for us. In December 2021, that space finally became available and we quickly renovated it and opened it up for walk-in business.

It’s been a slow start, but traffic is picking up more and more every week. We’ve also started working with some of Pigtown’s local resources to spread our name further, attracting more local residents who might otherwise not have known there were businesses inside our building.

We still do a majority of sales online, but everyone is welcome to come by the store and see what we have to offer.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
While it has been a lot of fun and games here at Silver Canon, we have definitely experienced our share of challenges.

The biggest challenge was the pandemic causing delays to the general construction supply chain. Our building is currently undergoing 1st-floor renovation to revamp it into a small indoor mall of sorts.

We were initially supposed to have our 1st floor retail space available to us in July 2021, but construction delays kept pushing the date back for our space to become available. Other prospective 1st floor businesses in the building had similar problems with the wait.

Another more recent challenge has been learning that many residents in Pigtown simply do not know that our building is a place of businesses. I’ve spoken with a number of residents, almost all of whom have told me they thought this building was apartments.

The building is located on the edge of Pigtown, and I don’t really see too much foot traffic compared to, say, Washington Street and the businesses located there. We’re working very hard to let residents know that we’re here and open for people to come and have fun.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
At Silver Canon, we specialize in buying and selling board games, video games, and trading cards. We have somewhere in the ballpark of 800 or more board games in our store, mostly pre-owned. They represent all manner of genre, difficulty, player count, size, shape, mood, and vintage that customers may be looking for.

When it comes to video games, we have a wide variety of games from all parts of gaming history, from the late 1970s to the current day, and we sell consoles, handhelds, and accessories too. Our trading card offerings skew primarily towards Magic: The Gathering, but we also have smaller amounts of the Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon Trading Card Games available.

I like to believe that the key factor that sets us apart is inclusivity. Our motto is “Games Are For Everyone” and we mean it. We want people of every age, background, or orientation to be able to come to our store, find something they want to play, and even play it right here. This goal of ours is really important to me too as our store’s Executive Officer.

I’m a non-binary Latino, and I know there are others like me out there in the city looking for a place like ours to feel comfortable. We want to provide that space for everyone, including people like me, to have fun and feel comfortable being themselves while doing so, and so I’ve made it part of my job to foster that kind of environment here at Silver Canon.

If there’s anything I’d most like your readers to know, it’s that we’re here and open to all. Whether you’re looking for an old favorite you played as a kid, the most recent games coming out, or something you’ve totally never heard of before, we’re bound to have something for you.

Our storefront’s address is 1100 Wicomico St., Suite #1H, Baltimore, MD, 21230. Check out our website or social media for our current hours!

What do you think about luck?
I personally don’t find that luck has played many roles in my life.

Most of what I’ve accomplished in life has been through hard work and dedication paying off, and any failures or missteps have usually been self-inflicted rather than simply a case of bad luck. I’ve also always had the love and support of my parents, helping me through tough times over the years.

That said, this business has definitely seen its share of luck through the actions of the other employees here. My friend and boss, Jason Lisan, always seems to have a way to talk to just the right people at the right times to arrange some kind of advantageous outcome for the business.

For example, last year he worked out a deal with a board games collector in New Jersey to buy the remainder of a collection at really a good price. The collection had hundreds of board games in it and the vast majority of them are stocking our shelves right this moment.

Jason will tell you that it’s not luck, instead saying it’s just that everyone has a story and he isn’t afraid to talk to people. I still believe he’s at least somewhat lucky because the frequency he meets people that can help us in some way seems too high to be coincidental!

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