Axion Now is an events centre and online business, based in Amersham, which specialises in a strategic trading card game called Magic: The Gathering.
Created in 1993 by an American mathematician, Magic The Gathering now boasts over 20 million active players worldwide and has been described as the world’s most complex game. Similar to fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, in Magic, players control teams of wizards who cast spells and summon mythical beasts to defeat their opponents across the table-top. Enthusiasts can spend years mastering their skills and collecting the perfect and deadliest card deck. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re a 15-year old student or a 50-year old doctor. So popular has Magic become, that it’s even had a whole episode of South Park dedicated it.
Given the sheer scale of interest in the game, it might come as a surprise to find the UK’s only dedicated Magic: The Gathering events centre based on the high street of a town with a population of only 18,000, but that makes Axion Now quite the local asset, says co-owner, Elizabeth Kolb Barnetson.
“I absolutely believe that this is where the high street should be going. People come from as far as Birmingham and Taunton to play here. We’re a regional attraction, but it’s also for the local community. This game brings people together of all ages and abilities, and we are definitely driving business and wealth into Amersham.”
Axion Now’s events centre can host about 60 players at a one time and has events throughout the week. Of course, if you’re drawing people in from far and wide, you need to make sure they have a really positive and comfortable experience when they get there. “We pride ourselves on our customer service, but we did have one problem - we have these day long events, and in the winter it can get quite cold and in the summer it gets hot. We tried using fans but they never lasted long and if we opened the windows, it blew the cards everywhere. We decided we really needed some air conditioning units.”
That represented quite a large investment for a small family business. They didn’t have the capital so they started looking around to see if there were any grants available. “We’re members of Bucks Business First so we asked them for their advice. They suggested the Low Carbon Workspace Project.”
After assessing the costs and potential benefits of the project, Low Carbon Workspaces offered a one third grant towards purchase and installation. They also recommended the most energy efficient air conditioning units for a facility of that size.
“We were umming and ahhing, but if we didn’t receive the grant I don’t think we would have been able to do it. We might have had to look for new premises.”
The total project cost was £5,500. Elizabeth is delighted with the results. “We’ve ended up saving 40% off our annual fuel bill, which is great. Thanks to the advice we were given, we’ve moved to a cheaper and greener energy tariff, and we no longer need to use gas.”
And how do their customers feel? “Our customers and staff are so much more comfortable. A lot of our players are quite young so many of them would expect us be conscious about our environmental impact. It’s not a unique selling point of ours, it’s just about being a responsible citizen really.”
And with that the door opens and new players gather, ready to do battle for glory and honour in the mesmerising Rhystic Caves and the terrifying Scavenger Grounds, in one far-flung corner of the world of Magic.
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