Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics of Ankeny, Iowa writes the Comic Store in Your Future column weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here. and catch up with Bleeding Cool's coverage of the current situation and how it affects the comic book industry with this tag. Lamberti writes,
We are now into week #2 of no new comics. I have people contacting me asking when are we going to get new comics? I do not know is my answer. I have people asking me when will new comics finally start coming out again? Are they going to all be coming out at once? Meaning if this lasts a month, or two or more will there suddenly be a shipment with all the past comics coming in at once? I do not know is my answer. That is where I am right now, I do not know. As a store owner that is not what people want to hear. It may be truthful though people want a better answer. So far, I have posted updates on our comic store Facebook page when we have new information. I posted the store was being closed by mandate of the governor. It was originally announced we would be closed until April 7th. I told people in the Facebook post the odds were it would be longer. Sadly, I was right. We are now closed for the whole month of April and I would guess it may even be extended. Just one catch, I do not know.
There are comic collectors who still do not even know there are no new comics coming out currently. The closest to a ray of hope I have received was an email from DC Comics. A new sales rep said there would be an announcement last week. It was really vague, though I was hoping maybe DC had put together a way to get comics to stores. I emailed back saying get me new comics and if need be, I will personally deliver comics to people. I was emailed back that Diamond is currently not sending new comics. I fought back emailing back, "Really?", along with some snarky comment. I did not. I have been holding back a lot. My mind drifts to all the people over the years which had us order them things and never bothered to pick them up. Or people who started pull boxes and never once came in again. These people cost me money. Truth is what I feel is just frustration over not knowing what will happen next.
When we found out there were no new comics coming out, my thought was to shift to pushing back issues more. Then the governor's mandate on businesses closures included us. At least I thought it did when it listed bookstores. We were wondering each day if the closures would finally include us or not. It was a slow drip of daily business closings. Gun stores have been deemed "essential". I have no problem with gun ownership. Though I do not believe people are running low on bullets right now. Seeing pictures of people lined up outside a gun store without any social distancing is just a way to spread the virus. Adult entertainment stores were still open in Iowa after we had been closed. I bought the Des Moines Register newspaper Saturday to see if an interview with me had been run and instead saw an article on those stores. Adult entertainment stores were not named in the governor's closing. I think that article might have done them in; days later they were on the governor's list of closings.
Comic Store on eBay
What have I been doing to bring in money? Selling on eBay. eBay now has a graph to let me know how much our eBay sales have dropped. That said, some money coming in is better than none. If I had a better idea how long this would last, I would be able to plan better. Is this going to last more than two months? Do I discount some of the higher-end material and put it on eBay now or in three months to see if things could be worth what they were worth before the coronavirus tore up the economy? We went from an economy where if an able body person wanted a job, odds were they could get one, to an economy where there are currently a lot of people out of work. How long will this recession last? Will it be even worse than a recession? I do not know.
How am I finding out new information? From Bleeding Cool. Just read an article that UPS is currently not shipping to non-essential businesses. I did not know that. I have not heard anything from Diamond directly other than the same emails sent to every store. At times the emails almost make it seem as if things are normal. I just received an Diamond email about various character statues from Dynamite being discounted. Like I could sell those currently. The only email from any publisher just for me was the DC email response about Diamond not sending comics. Prior to closing, we contacted many of our pull list customers directly to let them know if they wanted to get their comics, they should do it as soon as possible. This was because I felt the governor was going to announce any day we must be mandatorily closed. We called people on the last new comic Wednesday. Thursday it was announced that starting Friday we had to be closed. We will keep doing updates on our Facebook page and website. I will also of course keep answering all questions I receive.
I have a whole lot of I do not know for everyone at this time. Next week I will have an article about leading up to this point. We were doing well store-wise until things started to go really bad because of the coronavirus. Again, I want to stress I know Rodman Comics is not worth one person's life. I understand why this is all going on. That is currently one of the few things I do know.