Abandoned Pull Boxes – Will There Be A Comic Store In Your Future?

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics of Ankeny, Iowa, writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here.

Right now, things are actually going decently here. Magic: The Gathering sales are hot for us; comics sales are not what they were before the closing due to the virus, though the lack of Marvel material is a large part of it. This week with no new DC or Marvel comics is quite the shock. I have been trying to hype back issues as I have in the past after we reopened to fill the void of no new comics by the big two. People want new comics. Various people have even said they are having Marvel withdrawal. This is what? Marvel's third week of no new comics since Diamond started shipping again? As I have written before, we have people buying DC that are (or is it now were?) die-hard Marvel fans just to be able to read new comics.

Abandoned Pull Boxes- Will There Be A Comic Store In Your Future?
Image from Rodman Comics.

We have been staying the course. I have been working a lot. I am staying at times until three in the morning working. I want to make sure I am doing as much as possible to keep the store going. I am having a few people come back to work in July. We are not going back to what our hours were before the government closed us down. A second wave of the virus has me worried we will find ourselves spending too freely. Even if there is not another wave that shuts us down, people here in central Iowa very well could be too afraid to go out if things get too bad.

I had a person come in and announced he had not been here since December, though apparently, he still expected us to have a pull box for him. Heck, no. There was another customer here at the time who lives in another state who stops in more often than that, so I had to watch what I said. Meaning I could not just say what the heck are you thinking? A way to put the store out of business would be to forever hold comics for people who never come in. Do some people not know comic stores actually buy the comics they sell? I tell everyone who starts a pull box the rules for having one is the person makes it in once a month. We understand we have people unable to do this, people in the military, for example. Once they tell us, we, of course, work with them. However, so many people live right here in Ankeny and still stick us with product they asked us to hold for them. I can get through all of Ankeny from one side to the other in twenty minutes. The phones in Ankeny work fine. Some people have no problem hurting a business by just sticking them with product.

We have called multiple people with pull boxes who are behind to see if they are still interested in them, and of course, not a single one of them called us back. I totally understand if one wants to stay home to avoid people and lessen their risk of getting the coronavirus, though that is no excuse not to call us back. The virus does not travel through phone lines.

There are comic stores in better shape than we are, there are comic stores in worse shape with everything going on. A little respect in these times would be great. Even if a store was mad at getting stuck with product at least, then they know. Plus, what is the worst that can happen? It is over the phone.

I have had people who stuck us with unpicked up pull boxes come in and ask if we are hiring. I am just stunned; if one was not responsible enough to let us know they were not going to get their comics and had no problem ignoring our calls about it, then no, we are not hiring that type of person.

Now more than ever, for a lot of comic stores, every sale counts. Now is not the time to ignore when a store calls about a pull box. Let us know. Not only is it product we would not have ordered if the person had no intention of picking it up, thus losing money because of them, but we waste a lot of time calling people who are frankly rude enough not to return calls.

If one does not want their pull box do the right thing, pick up the phone and return the call or let the comic store know. Don't just keep the comics ordered for you on hold, so the store has no chance of actually getting things sold. In these times, a lot of businesses are hurting, do not add to that hurt.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.