Good afternoon Swordcraftians!
We’ve heard from volunteers, we’ve heard from game veterans, we’ve heard from new players and from families that LARP. Now it’s time to find out what it’s like to be a vendor in the LARP community!
You know them, you love them, you buy almost all of your gear from them! Please say hello to the staff from Of Science and Swords!
Of Science and Swords was originally a bookstore specialising in SpecFic and Fantasy. When Avi and Jas heard that OS&S was closing their doors in 2010, they decided to purchase the business, and give it new life!
At first, Avi and Jas carried on with maintaining OS&S as a bookstore. It had always been their dream to run a bookshop – Jas speculates that repeatedly watching Black Books might have had something to do with this – but after a couple of years of business, it seemed like the book market wasn’t doing so well in Melbourne. However, customers did seem very interested in all the prop and replica weapons that OS&S had mounted around the shop as decorations. In 2013, Avi and Jas decided to terminate their lease contract for the OS&S premise, but continued to sell LARP gear from their website, https://ofscienceandswords.com.au.
Premise and location have always been a struggle for any business owner, and OS&S in no different. With hundreds upon hundreds of costume, weaponry, and prop options, finding a place to display it all can be a challenge.
“People want to be able to look at things, try them on, give them a swing before they commit to purchasing it, so if you want to run a retail store on top of shipping things out from a warehouse, then you need more space again,” Jasmine said. “To give you some idea, if we wanted to have just one of every item we offer out on display, we’d likely need a 200-250m showroom, and we’d have well in excess of 1,000 individual items.”
Avi and Jas believe that the space they have in warehouse in Oakleigh has paid off. Without the space to store and display stock, it might have been impossible for the business to expand the way it has.
“We also think that with that ready availability of stock it has also accelerated the rate at which LARPing has been picked up in Victoria, if not Australia wide, as people no longer have to pay such excessive amounts for shipping or wait nearly as long on shipping turn-arounds.”
Of Science and Swords stocks inventory from several different suppliers, including Epic Armoury and Calimacil. In fact, Avi is the official representative to Australia for Epic Armoury, and works closely with all suppliers to make sure the community gets exactly what they’re looking for at the best possible prices.
Of Science and Swords also attends conventions across Australia, to connect and provide for the Australian LARP community at large.
Conventions are a fun and stressful thing to attend when you’re working. Driving across country to attend a convention that you don’t get to actually ‘attend’ can really get to you after a while, but Avi, Jas, and their staff believe it’s worth it.
“It’s really fun trying to convince people, especially cosplayers, that they want to get into LARP. Depending on who I’m talking to I’ll use lines like “It’s rugby, but for nerds!” or “Can we interest you in Sword Art OFFLINE?” or “But ladies! You get to hit f—bois in a park with sticks!” – Avi
“The best thing about conventions is seeing our customers faces light up when they discover the concept of LARP and battle sports. There isn’t a convention that goes by that we don’t introduce someone to our LARP lifestyle-cult who will express glee at the previously unheard of activity. It’s a great feeling.” – Jasmine
“Conventions are amazing but so tiring. Its rewarding to see the effort everyone puts into their cosplays.” – Tom
Tom has been working for OS&S for over two years now, and loves every minute of it. Tom likes helping players find what they need to complete their kit, and truly enjoys the happiness it gives the customers when they find that perfect piece for their costume.
Kay and Ash feel much the same as Tom, and enjoy interacting with the community, and making people’s dreams come true – their own dreams included.
Kay, who has been with OS&S since 2011, says she wanted to work for OS&S because she’s a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy, and loved the idea of working with things that interested her so much.
“Working for OS&S is equal parts standard desk job and surreal experience. 15 year old me would never have imagined repairing armour, doing a prosthetic tutorial, explaining how to make fake blood, and then sitting down to adjust stock levels being a normal day’s work.
Working here is the same as any other job, it has it’s ups and downs, but not everyone else gets to hit their boss and their customers at least once a week.”
Ash, who joined the OS&S crew just last April, says that it’s like living a dream.
“It’s great being able to help people find what they’ve always fantasised about having.
I started working there because of family since Jasmine is my sister and I wanted to help out with the business but it’s really a lot of fun being able to play with weapons all day too. Best war profiteering job I could’ve asked for!”
Avi and Jasmine have put their heart and soul in the LARP community, and so have their dedicated staff. In our growing community, it’s important for players, volunteers, and vendors to work together to make every game better than the last. Thanks for everything you do, OS&S!
Social Media Director, Editor for Swordcraft.com.au