Comic Store In Your Future: The Price Of Pulling A Pull Box

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

A subject I have written about before has been coming back up recently. Over the years and currently, there have been plenty of articles about comic stores and the amount of comics people abandon in their pull boxes. Thousands of dollars worth at times. When I first opened, I was way too nice and did let people's pull boxes at times get behind on. Then I became more business minded. I had plenty of customers who did not understand why they could not just wait for months and pick up their comics. We buy the comics. Then afterwards, if we just throw them in a pull box never to get purchased, that is a loss. As I have stated before, I believe stores would be better off without pull boxes. Pull boxes help defeat the collector mentality and defeats the mentality of making a trip to a comic store. People were quick to show up and worried about if they got Batman Damned #1 or not. It got them into the store. Some people had seen it available for sale that Wednesday, then came back after finding out it had gone up to $50 online. At times people with pull boxes decide they do not want to spend the money so they just put off getting them. A weekly trip might cost them $20. The person stops coming for a month, that is then up to $80 and that is just too much to spend at once in some people's mind, so they stop coming in all together.

How do we handle pull boxes now?

The pull boxes rules here are explained to everyone who starts one here. We contact people after a month of not seeing them. Most of the time, we never hear anything back. People just abandon them. I then put them on the shelf and sigh about all the reordered issues I did not need to order when I had them here, because a person who had me hold comics for them decided it was alright just to screw me over. Because, make no mistake, that is pretty crappy to ignore calls and or emails after asking for comics to be held.

My belief is if a person does not make it into a comic store at least once a month for a grand total of twelve times a year then comic book collecting is not for them.

Five weeks is the cut off before putting comics back from an abandon pull box. I have had people show up after that upset with me that we did it. This may sound harsh but I do not care. Not returning a call and saying anything because they "forgot" we called is not an excuse. I have had people come in, sign up with us for pull boxes for comics, letting me know they were upset with their previous store because the store had sold "their" comics they had in a pull box. I ask a few basic questions. How long did you wait? The answer is always over a month. Did you try to contact them? No. I then end up defending the other store. How were they supposed to know you were going to show up sometime if at all? Why did you not contact them? Always no answer to that one.

A new issue we have run into, is people who have abandoned their pull box and after time starting up a new pull box. Meaning they were done, never returned any of my calls and I figured we would never see them again and their pull boxes were cancelled after not hearing anything back. And then months, or even years later, they came back in during when an employee was working that was not here when they abandoned their pull box and believe they are brand new, so they get a pull box started up again. I myself recently had a person who abandoned comics in their pull box, try to hold comics here again. I told them no. I was also the one who cancelled the pull box because to lose money on a person is foolish. I directly talked to him about all this. I told him just to get the comics off the shelf from here on out. I came in roughly a week later and saw the person had come back and had an employee hold comics for them. I was not happy. I put them back on the shelf. I saw him next time and told him that. It is not okay to cost other people money. Even when I lost my job when I was shopping at Dragonfire Comics, I got all my comics in my pull box and stopped my pull list. I let them know what happened. Ironically, for most of my time shopping with them, I just showed up for years on Wednesday and got my comics. Then I finally started a pull list, and then I lost my job. I personally did not like pull lists as a customer. I enjoy looking through the various comics on the shelf. A pull box is skipping a step in seeing what all is offered for comics in my humble opinion.

If comic pull boxes are so bad why do stores do it? Because it is a "service" that other stores offer. If we don't offer it then people will go somewhere else where is the theory.

Fact. The comics are the store's until someone purchases them. It is that simple. I have learnt long ago what one says and does are often two different things.

People will get mad at a comic store. They will leave negative feedback online. Though that is the cost of staying open. That is something I have learnt. Be the world's nicest person and go out of business or tell people there are rules and they need to be followed and not be as well liked. I choose the later.

Comic Store In Your Future: The Price Of Pulling A Pull Box

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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.
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