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The Rise and Fall of The Cougar Store

Eve is a game of failure and successes. It is one of the appeals. For everything that you accomplish you can also have failed. For every failure you may have accomplished something. mix that into a game where you create what you want to spend your time doing and it makes for a heady and addictive mixture of game play.

I am very proud of accomplishments in Eve. Truly proud of what I have done. That pride makes the failures all that much harder. And with any failure it'd be nice to shove it into a dark pit, roll a bolder over top of it and walk away. The problem is that I still know that it is there, in its bolder covered pit. Ignoring it, hiding it, pretending it did not happen will not make it go away. I am the type of person that has to work out their problems, cry out their hurts, and attack the obstacles in their path.

That's why sitting for the past three or so weeks, sad and hurt, has not been productive for me. In many ways writing my blog has been my way to work through the good and the bad times of playing. I've gotten used to chronicling my days and adventures and chewing over my thoughts.

So, let's face the failure. I closed TCS in Bosena and moved to Sujarento.



I have completely moved out of the region. It is an incredibly painful thing to look at. It is a painful thing to admit to. I am deeply, deeply disappointed in the failure of my project.
  • I failed at my urban renewal program in Molden Heath.
  • I failed to bring enough value as a neutral.
  • I failed to get anyone else as vested in that project
The Cougar Store was named as a joke and started on a whim. The goal was to bring reasonably priced items to low sec so that my corpmates did not have to jump into high sec. It had been done before but not long term and I decided that despite my utter market failures in the past, I'd invest a portion of ISK that I was comfortable with and I'd give it a go. At the worst I'd resell everything that I'd purchased for a small loss and learn a lesson.

It went better than I expected. My improper view of the game allowed me to not worry about bottom lines and immediate success. Success was measured in people buying items from me. I rejected everything I was told and most of the advice that I was given and forged ahead at my dream of low sec being a viable place with markets and normal everyday activity.

That was almost two years ago. In a different time for Eve and a different time and place for me. It was one of my early ventures into changing low sec and other peoples perception of low sec. I was tired of hearing, "lol low sec" and other such dismissive snarky comments. I loved where I lived and what I did and I felt that I was just as valuable a player as anyone else. Sure, running a market wasn't a glamorous thing but it was infrastructure and infrastructure matters when a large group of people need to be fueled.

And such was my doe-eyed dreams and hesitant excitement as instead of failure I met with success. It involved a lot of fighting. I fought people who told me that my concept was wrong. I fought against the very people I wanted to help because I could not allow some to gouge the market and not others. I trained accounts, I saved ISK, I begged for help, I borrowed jump freighters. I made mistakes. I prospered. I wrote about it and found out that people were interested in my trials, tribulations, and excitement.

My POCOpire was a random venture. It started with just seeing the POCO as a way to put TCS's label on Bosena. Then, when I was gifted POCO by another player tired of dealing with reinforcement timers, it turned into an urban renewal project. Could I improve the region by providing goods and low taxes? Molden Heath is out of the major roadways and not inhabited by Faction Warfare but maybe I could invigorate it if I tried.

When I left 7-2 and moved out of Molden Heath I left TCS running. I had purposefully created TCS as a separate entity from Sugar Kyle. I wanted my market to be neutral. I wanted it to not be defined by my other activities and endeavors. That is why I refused when people asked me not to sell modules like warp core stabilizers and EC-300 drones. Once I started the concept grew and I wanted it to be more than my corporate market. I saw that it could be more than my corporate market.

And then, when I decided to leave, I decided to leave TCS up and running and my POCOpire there and available. I felt that I had made a difference. I felt that I was making a  difference. And I started to dream that maybe it would grow a bit beyond me and it would no longer be the venture of one player.

Hopes and dreams. Dreams and hopes. Ignited by nothing but my experiences, hopes, and dreams.

But nothing lasts forever. Not even good intentions. The market was stressful to run. I had started another in Sujarento and running between the two kept me more occupied than I often liked. I still felt indebted to Molden Heath. I felt that I had to provide them their market. I enjoyed feeling needed. I enjoyed being successful at something that felt productive and useful and helpful and valuable.

There was also the fact that I had moved out of Molden Heath. Neutrality is a concept that I am fascinated with in Eve. It is one that I'd love to see accepted more. I know why it often is not but I'd like to see it happen. But, I also have to set my limits.

On November 22nd, I received an eve-mail from an ex-corpmate who wanted one of my POCO. Not the use of said POCO, for I gladly provide 0% taxes to any I consider friend, but the POCO itself. The mail was a friendly request to hand the POCO over before it was shot because taxes were not an option. I said no. I was not interested in letting go of the POCO and offered 0% taxes which was accepted.

That left me surprised, when two weeks later, I logged in my Jita buy character to a notification that my POCO was being shot. I opened my notifications to see that it was being shot by the same person who two weeks before had agreed to 0% taxes.

I had a lot of emotions hit me. Shock. Hurt. Disappointment. I had hoped in my heart of hearts that things would be fine forever. That I'd continue bringing value in. That I could be neutral enough that my structures were left alone.

I looked into it some. No one knew what was going on. I got some possible reasons. But, oh well.

And then I got angry. Very angry. I had a lot of options. I also found myself at a loss for what to do. Ask for them to stop? Ignore it? Wait for the next one? Diplomacy? Beg? But most of that was washed away by the anger. I had promised myself that if I was attacked I'd withdraw. That I was already at the edge of my abilities to balance everything that I was doing and that I could not deal with an assault on the project. I, perhaps, thought too much of myself and too much of the value of what I did. But, for me it was important and meaningful and when the damage notifications scrolled in I just stared at them stupidly.

How angry I was. My temper, once raised, consumed me. I thought up half a dozen spiteful, vindictive things that I could do. I thought of them and I let them tempt me before I wrote Robinton a semi-incoherent message. What a fascinating friendship that had grown between the two of us from his days as an anti-pirate and mine as a newbie creeping around the outer edges of the Molden Heath circle. I'd been disappointed at the distance that had grown as I left and I clung to the few people with whom I had not lost touch. Near blinded with anger and hurt, I’m glad that I do not need to look at the keyboard to type. I asked him if he would take my POCO and keep giving the tax rate to the region. He agreed and I then handed over every single POCO that I owned in Molden Heath.

And then I pulled TCS. Five hundred orders. A dozen jump freighter trips. My hands shaking. My lips clenched. I was angry. I was hurt. They are probably things that I should not talk about. You're not supposed to actually care. It is only a game. You're not supposed to admit weakness to people. There are so many rules and I didn't care about any of them. Order after order. Jump after jump. I delisted TCS. I sent it all to high sec. I wrote a dozen contracts to Red Frog, and I sent my alts to Sujarento.

And in less time than I'd like to admit, what I had spent almost two years building, I had dismantled and walked away from.

It was a terrible thing. Should I have? Should I have just taken it? Should I have been diplomatic? Should I have swallowed my anger and hurt? Should I have destroyed what I built? Was I spiteful? Was I selfish? Had I over reacted? Did I have the right to do what I just did? What would people think of me? Did it make me a bad person?

But I had made my decision. I packed it all up, I sent it to where I lived, and I rebuilt my market. In a new place. Because I still believe in everything that I wanted to do. I still believe that markets improve a region. But, keeping it with me will probably be for the best. I can explore my concepts of neutrality in other ways. I just have to be creative and build something new.

I watched my reinforced POCO burn. I stared at the loss mail for a while. It was something of a realized nightmare. There was a lot of disappointment, sadness, and frustration attached. I know that I could have handled things a different way. I could have done something else. But, instead I walked away. It happened that my line had been crossed.

In almost two years, I learned a lot. I never thought that I’d get into markets. I learned incredible amounts about players, ships, and fits just by seeing what sold. I learned about a part of Eve that is easy to miss. I found talents and abilities I didn’t know that I possessed. And while I did not realized my grand goals or accomplish my hopes and dreams, I walked away a different, more experienced person.

And like a Phoenix from the ashes, TCS has risen. Sujarento’s market sits at eight hundred orders. Consolidation has allowed me to focus and use my energy productively.


It is not the same. It will never be the same. But, I’ve learned and gained. It is amazing how one stubborn person can accomplish. But, that is not sustainable. I’ll reformulate my plan and come up with something better. Something stronger. Eve is a very large game with an awful lot to do. A lot to acomplish.

Comments

  1. Your project was not a failure in any sense of the word. For two years you stocked and operated a successful market in Bosena that not only served the needs of your corpmates, but made the lives of all who lived in lowsec Molden Heath easier.

    It was in every way a success, not only as a business venture, but as a social experiment. You made it possible for some people to live in lowsec without the need for hauler and marketing alts with positive security standings. It’s probably impossible to measure how many player’s lives you touched with your market, but it it certainly is a considerable number. Far more than the member list of your former corporation.

    Toward the bottom of your blog entry you asked a series of questions involving your decision to close your market in response to the short-sighted, selfish acts of one of your former corpmates:

    “It was a terrible thing. Should I have? Should I have just taken it? Should I have been diplomatic? Should I have swallowed my anger and hurt? Should I have destroyed what I built? Was I spiteful? Was I selfish? Had I over reacted? Did I have the right to do what I just did? What would people think of me? Did it make me a bad person?”

    Let me combine all my answers to these questions into a single statement. You made a reasonable decision that you have every right to make. You weren’t spiteful or selfish, and it certainly doesn’t make you a bad person. Anyone confronted by the actions of an ingrate is allowed to respond, and not just by submitting to their whims.

    Bosena’s loss is Sujarento’s gain. Even though monetary gain was never the motivator for you, I’d predict that your market will be much more successful in The Citadel because the traffic is many times greater than the comparative handful in Molden Heath.

    The decision to backstab you was shortsighted in the extreme. The people who benefited from your fair pricing model will have to choose between doing their own long distance highsec shopping errands or suffering the exorbitant pricing of the high sec gougers who live in the neighborhood. Maybe one of them will decide to try to replace you and run a full-featured market in Bosena. Perhaps then some of them might gain respect for all the work you did there.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t close by mentioning that I find it shocking that the people in charge over there wouldn’t either put a stop to the assault or make an apology and recompense you for the thoughtless selfishness of an isolated reprobate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But when I walked away it died. And by being angry I potentially hurt others.

      I must also point out I did not go the route of diplomacy or ask for anything. I picked up and walked away. I had hoped that I'd be able to enact a greater chance. But, not everyone will find value in a market so close to high sec, especially when they have their own haulers.

      But cresting sandcastles is why I play. Even when the tide knocks down my seawalls and scours away my efforts. That too is part of it all.

      Delete
    2. Sugar,

      Your concerns are valuable too. What a particular endeavor does to you is a crucially important consideration. Sure pulling out of Bosena may harm (or at least majorly inconvenience) some Bosena residents. That said, if you had stayed, someone else was being harmed . . . you. One should think hard before they harm themselves. Generally speaking, it’s not the best course of action, especially when one’s eyeing long term, continual harm.

      I suppose what I’m trying to get at is that when it boils down to a balance between your wellbeing and your project’s wellbeing the project is far less important. Expecting altruistic suicide of anyone (including oneself), especially in game, is both unreasonable and unacceptable.

      Delete
  2. I'm sorry to see you drop out of business in Molden Heath. As I've mentioned before your business next door in Bosena complemented my business on Teonusude very well.

    I have a hunch Sujarento will suit you better due to it's location. Unlike Bosena it isn't right next door to the biggest hub in the region plus The Citadel is a larger region and Sujarento is a bit of a crossroads, a convenient lowsec shortcut between 3 regions (Lonetrek, Essence and Black Rise).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Make that a shortcut between 4 regions, I forgot about Verge Vendor.

      Delete
    2. It will be interesting to see what you do with the market there.

      Delete
    3. I'll just continue on the same as always, selling mostly faction mods, skillbooks, implants and T2/T3 ships.

      I do believe in selling at reasonable prices but my idea of a reasonable price is probably a bit higher than your's. Still a lot better than the extreme price gouging many (if not most) traders shoot for.

      Even if I wanted to (and I don't) I simply don't have the time to do what you did in Bosena, stocking a single region with all the little stuff people need all the time.

      Delete
    4. To be fair, shipping in EVE is so cheap that 20% above Jita (which I seem to recall was considered the upper limit of "reasonable prices") is enough to ensure a profit on essentially aside from sub-cruiser hulls and some T1 mods, some distance into nullsec. (I'd put the limit at, say, 10LY from a low-sec station...) The things where your shipping costs would be prohibitive are all things that can be manufactured locally in an entirely reasonable manner.

      Delete
  3. Are my Cougar Store - Bosena space coupons redeemable at the new Sujarento location?

    Lady Kyle, I think you will do much better in Sujarento. No reason for anyone to go to Molden Heath anymore except guys like me who gush about the olden days.. gotta do the loop on occasion to clear the mind..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are few streets more poignant than the one that you grew up on.

      Delete
  4. One of the few tools left to neutral business folk is the right to withhold service. No sense in making peoples lives better if they don't appreciate it.

    For what its worth, my market partner is shifting damage control units and other frigate parts to a low sec store as we speak. A copy-cat store, which I'm sure is just one of many such copy-cats. Bosena may have lost out, but you've given a greater benefit to low-sec as a whole.

    Besides, you've left a gap for some up and coming trader to make their own mark in that corner of space. Sometimes giving up a bit of the sandbox for someone else to play in is a good thing.

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    Replies
    1. You make me sound like a better person then I feel I am in this. :P

      Delete
  5. If you'd ran Bosena for the purpose of profit you wouldn't be that 'butthurt'. But doing it for the profit doesn't seem to be an option you'd even consider.
    Lowsec is a strange place. It needs (a lot more) infrastructure to attract new players but trying to establish an infrastructure will make you primary target to the residents which then go on to complain that they won't find PvP...
    You lost a POCO, he lost content. No established market equals less players around. Soon™ he might get bored and (might be forced to) move to another region.
    That could be a nice "Butterfly Effect" we see here. This is EvE... shoot a POCO, see your local market die, spend more ISK to import your stuff on your own then you earn with your POCO, see your targets move away, see your home region die, quit EvE because you get bored... but at least you quit while owning a POCO.
    CCP, please make a trailer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If anything now is a good time to look at how to add more and better infrastructure for the players, by the players, but worth the players time and energy to run.

      Delete
  6. If you define your success criteria solely in such fuzzy terms as "urban renewal", or "getting somebody else invested" (instead of easily countable metrics like profit in ISK), then yes, maybe TCS was a failure.

    But two things stood out to me in your post. First, "what I had spent almost two years building, I had dismantled and walked away from."

    Walking away from something one spent years to build is one the of hardest thing one can do. I know a corp which can't let go of the past, of past glories, and thus is unable to move forward.

    "And like a Phoenix from the ashes, TCS has risen."

    And as you put it subsequently, it will likely not be same TCS as before - that it'll likely be a more mature one. But even if it no longer has the starry-eyed innocence of the youth, it will still be The cougar store [sic].

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But I ran the store on intangible concepts, hopes, and dreams. :)

      It became more and grew and I broadened those hopes, dreams, and concepts until they outgrew what I could do.

      Delete
    2. I know :)

      I was trying to poke a bit of fun at those people who measure success only in metrics. Plus I was trying to see your post from your point of view, instead of just uttering platitudes of consolation.

      The bane and beauty of intangible goals is that they can be used to continually challenge ourselves to do even better. So when eventually those goals become truly unachievable, that failure may still have achieved more than other peoples' successes.

      Delete
  7. I hear the pain, but I hope you also hear how your work not only helped the people around your (then) home but also inspired them to build their own dreams (not all of which were just about markets).

    I'm also amazed you've been able to do anything that intense at all while also being a CSM, much less one who's done so much.

    As someone who lives close to Suj, I don't know if I should be happy that I can stop by your new storefront (particularly while reshipping) or annoyed that it means it will be more competitive to put things up for sale in Fliet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Playing Eve is important because of the CSM. It'd be to easy to get obsessed in only that and forget why I ran and why I want to be there. Things like the market are not flashy but they keep me deeply entrenched in playing the game and remembering why I'm here.

      Delete
    2. FWIW, I ended up buying a quick reship in Suj last night after Aideron/RDRAW tangled with a roaming CFC gang.

      In a completely different part of my life someone quoted this from a TV show I don't watch (Gray's Anatomy), but it sounded like it fitted not only The Cougar Store, but a lot of Eve: "We’ll try again and we’ll fail again because that’s what progress looks like. Progress looks like a bunch of failures. And you’re going to have feelings about that because it’s sad, but you cannot fall apart. And then one day, we will succeed and save a person’s life and we will walk on the moon."

      Delete
  8. Sugar your efforts were a success - I for one, as a new player, got into regional trading and hauling because of your blog posts. I'm sure others have as well. I've also started dipping my toe into low sec and null sec PvP based on the increased knowledge I have of fitting (from stocking my local market). You've opened many more doors with your efforts (and blog) than you closed by walking away from Molden Heath. Be proud.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. The problem with my story and efforts is that I can only judge what I can touch. It seems arrogant to assume about how this adventure has affected oters. Thank you for the response.

      Delete
  9. Losing a single POCO in a system several jumps away from your market means the market should be closed? Or that you think it's a failure?

    That's a bit overdramatic. It was not a failure, nor does losing a single poco mean the market had to die.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I pointed out that my action was dramatic and born of anger. It did not mean it had to die but it was the choice that I made based upon the entirety of the situation. And not meeting my win conditions is to me a failure of my endeavor.

      Delete
  10. Neutrality? a dangerous concept. One that intrigues me, but some of the player base Destruction is their raison d'être. Even the altruism of a market place would not give pause to the tear-mongers.

    I salute you! Two years, for me and my complete lack of major impact (after five years) is an achievement to be proud of. And you remark that you learned about players and running a market. Neither of these things are easy and remain a testament of being adaptive - one of the highest prized attributes in Eve.

    And since no one has posted this yet:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHPOzQzk9Qo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't start as a neutral but it became that and I tried to improve upon it. For the most part it worked. If my temper were different I may have been able to prove something about neutrality and taken TCS to its birthday.

      I think that most of us have accomplishments during our playtime. I just sit down and write down what is going on.

      Delete
  11. To paraphrase the Oracle from one of the Matrix movies: Everything that has a beginning has an end.

    It may not have been the ending you'd chosen if you could write the lines yourself, but it was an ending on your own terms, and perhaps the lesser of several possible evils. Your reaction, even if based in emotion, is the type of cause-effect sandbox thing that makes EVE the interesting place it is. Hold your head high.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aye. I don't question my anger. I have a temper. I know on one side that I could have done something else or approached it another way. But, I've always been emotional about the entire concept. I've fought against more profitable and successful paths because they didn't fit my passion. So, burning in my own anger isn't surprising in the end.

      I'd love to present myself as perfect in this. But, that would be a lie.

      Delete
  12. His face has been noted. http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=26402099

    ReplyDelete
  13. Quite a confronting post which made me reflect on my own activities. I run a couple of similar projects but have not yet been frustrated as you have. I think this is because I do not allow myself to frame potential success in relation to others - I just assume that people will choose short term profit over long term improvement. It is a proven concept.

    You succeeded with the market. You failed by allowing your success to be tainted by others' responses. But perhaps that is what you are seeking.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Don't underestimate the enjoyment and learning the readers of your blog have gained from your store. I for one still harbour a dream of setting up a mini-trade hub outside of highsec.

    And no harm in taking what you have learned in one region into another. It will be interesting to see how the learning curve has changed as you set up your new store.

    As ever, i will read your of fortunes with interest.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What suprised me was you just handing over the poco's. I'd have let him shoot and replace them, that way at least he has to spent time and isk to replace your poco's.
    Or give them to someone who is opposed to CI to bait them for fights?

    ReplyDelete

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