By Andrew Johnson, Co-Founder Mana Pool

Most people who find themselves in a sudden maelstrom of illness, covid, and long hours taking away from time with wife and children might batten down the hatches. Not Phil Allen. Phil decided it was time to start PunkOuter Games in Gainesville, FL.

From IT to Games

Phil studied many things when he was young, from agriculture, to game design, to computer crime scene analysis, but a common thread in that was Phil was always handy with computers. And so, after a brief stint as a Police Officer at the University of Florida, Phil spent nearly a decade working in IT.

Phil (far right) in the REALLY early years at Geek Squad. Phil (far right) in the REALLY early years at Geek Squad.

He started as a computer tech with local company ComputerCare, before being hired on as a field services tech in charge of whole networks at Revisions Systems that employed about 700 people, before RedVision was finally inhaled into the massive national First American company, where he worked for 5 years being promoted to supervise an entire group of employees and managers.

Then in 2020, with the world upended in unprecedented ways, Phil was also faced with some personal challenges. First he received a cancer diagnosis. Then his father did. Then his dog did too. And so Phil decided that the precious gift of life should be spent on his passions.

Many game store owners share some of Phil’s traits, including a lifelong love of Magic: The Gathering, a knack for technology, and a hustler streak. While he was working his IT career, Phil had a side hustle going buying and selling Magic cards on the internet, and he decided he was making so much money on that, and having so much fun doing it, it behooved him to follow that path into opening a game store, and leave the slog of IT behind.

“I had always wanted to run a game store, though I knew it wasn’t a good idea,” said Phil. “But it just might work if I could mix it with online sales.”

The Genesis of PunkOuter Games

Game displays at Punkouter.

To make his game store happen, Phil thought about how it would work, and recruited a business partner too. He knew he wanted to stay in Gainesville, FL, which has about 120,000 people, 1/3rd of them students. But Gainesville also had just one other big game store, and while it had been there for 30 years it wasn’t the premier play space that Phil wanted to build.

“I wanted to build a safe space for people to play, a store that welcomed everyone, like the book store I played at as a kid,” said Phil.

Phil’s first memories of slinging spells came from a local bookstore that allowed open play. Like many kids of the 80s, Phil’s family was sundered by divorce, and he spent a lot of time in his own world. And this book store was the place he felt safe and happy, and that was the feeling he wanted to recreate with Punkouter Games… a safe environment of inclusivity and acceptance that allows gamers of sorts the security and assurance to embrace a bigger community.

Phil worked with his business partner Biron Ecker or a year before opening PunkOuter’s doors. The company has now been operating for 1.5 years, employs 11 people, and hosts a thriving gamer community.

Embracing Technology: Robots and Marketplaces

We at Mana Pool met Phil probably because he is a tech enthusiast. Phil was one of the first game stores to take the leap and list his Magic card inventory on

Magic packs and decks at Punkouter.

Phil has not been shy about adopting technology into his store since the beginning. He uses robots from CardBot and MagicSorter to automate operations. And Mana Pool isn’t the only marketplace Phil has been instrumental in booting up. In the past, he has helped out ChannelFireball, in the brief period where they were a marketplace, before being acquired by TCGPlayer. He also helped TGPlayer boot up their TCGDirect logistics service, and today serves as a logistics hub for CardTrader, a European TCG marketplace.

Punkouter and Mana Pool

We asked Phil what he likes about Mana Pool, and he said, “Yours just works. It was unusual to start using a marketplace and have the initial signup and sync go smoothly and there haven’t been any issues since.”

Punkouter is integrated with Mana Pool via Shopify, one of the two main integrations large stores use to list on, the other being Crystal Commerce. And Phil is right… we have focused pretty hard on just building a few things and making sure they worked well. There are just two main coders at Mana Pool, two of the three founders, so we care about the code a lot but have to decide carefully what things to build with our limited cycles. We still have a hundred things left to build, but signing up with Shopify or Crystal Commerce is dead easy, and the shopping experience we think is second to none.

So thanks to Phil for taking the leap, and also thanks for taking time to do one of our Seller Verification Interviews. This article wasn’t planned in advance, we just wanted to give Phil the blue checkmark next to PunkOuter’s name and fulfill our obligation to verify all sellers and keep commerce safe on Mana Pool. But given his compelling story, we thought it’d make an interesting read in the Mana Pool Library.

If you are a player, and especially if you are local to Florida, check out PunkOuter’s shop on Mana Pool. And if you have a game store and want to get involved in Mana Pool, sign up… it’s easy. And ping us with any questions, and you’ll talk to the founders too.