For the last few years Christian Schenk of Card Shark has been trying to establish a viable alternative to Bicycle cards. Given how entrenched the Bicycle brand is with magicians, this is a bold, and some would say perhaps risky, move, and the potential for the whole project to become an expensive failure is huge.
But by dint of dogged persistence, attention to detail, and an unshakeable belief that he would eventually succeed if he kept going for long enough, Christian has gradually managed to establish his Phoenix brand of cards.
The introduction of the full range of gimmicked decks in Phoenix and the release of new magic from notable names in magic using the cards as well, has helped to establish Phoenix, and on the back of this success, Card Shark has become a well known and trusted supplier.
In order to supply packs of cards, large quantities need to be ordered and held in stock. You can’t expect a printer to run low volumes of decks, and so this requires a significant cash investment both in the cards themselves and in the premises to store them in. But Christian has consistently put his money where his mouth is and expanded his business and his investment in line with what he needs to make the whole enterprise work. This is not something you can half do, you are either fully engaged or not at all.
Given all the years of effort and at times struggle to get established, it is hard to imagine how he must have felt recently when he was called by the fire brigade to his warehouse in Germany which was ablaze!
The industrial unit which his warehouse was part of had suffered a catastrophic fire and the end result was that his stocks of cards and machinery was destroyed. Overnight his business was shattered.
A fire is always a devastating thing to have to deal with, and there have been other magic suppliers in the past who have suffered in a similar way. But what makes it especially difficult for Christian is that he isn’t just supplying standard dealer items that he can simply re-order from a magic wholesaler, he is the manufacturer himself, and card printing is not a quick or cheap process.
Fortunately the Card Shark offices were not in the same premises, plus he has a further warehouse in the United States, so all is not entirely lost, but the psychological trauma of the whole episode at the very least must be huge.
Despite everything though, Christian has sought to turn the disaster into a PR triumph. By relating the story, by creating a sense of comraderie with his customers over the whole situation, and remaining, in public at least, upbeat and positive about the future, Christian seems to be managing to turn it all into some sort of triumph! The ironically named Phoenix brand of cards literally will rise again from the ashes.
I think what this story shows is that disaster can befall anyone. It’s not the event itself which decides the eventual outcome, but the attitude and approach of the person it has happened to. Christian has showed that strength of character and a creative approach to dealing with it can actually help to turn disaster into a bizarre kind of business opportunity.