How Can I Sleep At Night? Comic Store In Your Future

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics of Ankeny, Iowa, writes Comic Store In Your Future weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here. And this week, sleep is on his mind…

A few days ago, I was in bed wondering why it was 1:30 in the morning, and I was still awake. I got up and let the dog out. While I waited for my dog to come back in, I was thinking of the things on my to-do list for the store. I wondered why I did not seem on my game, so to speak. I forgot to be meet someone earlier the day before. Yes, comic store owners have meetings. I meet with my accountant, lawyer, salespeople, and so on. I had forgotten about my meeting with a salesperson to get an estimate on replacing the store's sign. I even told someone forty minutes beforehand about it and then forgot. I am usually very good at remembering things. Not recently; misplacing things such as comics was happening a lot. I briefly wondered if I was getting Alzheimer's. My grandmother had it; I would not wish that on anyone.

Last year during April, I know I was stressed over if the store would reopen and how badly covid would affect everyone. Now I kept thinking of all the things I wanted to get done as quickly as possible at the store. The last Rod Deals was great. March was a record for monthly sales. Demand for comics, cards, heck, everything is way up. I have been buying peoples' collections to try to keep up with the high demand for comic books and cards. I know when it comes to sales, time is no one's friend. Meaning the best thing to do during a sale is wrap it up as fast as possible. For example, a friend of mine years ago found a snowmobile online and set up a weekend to go and check it out. The person canceled at the last minute, saying something came up and to try again next week. My friend kept looking online and found a snowmobile he liked better and bought that one instead. One of my uncle's sold his house and was amazed at how quickly it sold. I told him he was smart to get it ready and get it looking the best as possible and as quickly as possible. Why? Right now, the housing market is hot; there is no telling how long that will last. Procrastinating in retail is a foolish thing to do.

All those comics and cards I acquired do me no good if they are not available to be sold. Am I perfect? No, I took some comics home on a Sunday and was reading the ones from my childhood. I did get some comics priced, though not as many as I should have. Here in the store, we have been busy selling to people, which of course is great. Usually, if it slows down, I can get other things done, such as pricing comics. I kept thinking the store is doing great; what is wrong with me? I dragged through the week and still did not sleep as well as I should have the other nights.

Finally, someone told me I am stressing because I have so much to do. I thought about it and didn't want to admit they were right. Sales are crazy; even when we are not open, we are selling. A person in France spent over a grand with us through our online store. Here in the USA, stimulus money is causing people to spend more freely. I just checked our eBay sales; eBay showed our sales are up 155.5 percent compared to the same time period last year. I did not replace two employees when they left at the end of last year, thinking it would be slow this year. Whoops. Like so many other people, it has been a while since I have taken an actual vacation out of town. I last went to Florida in Feb of 2020 before Florida closed down. I do have a person lined up to help here for the summer because I hope to actually take a vacation out of town. I am just stressing with work as many people do.

How Can I Sleep At Night? Comic Store In Your Future
Image: Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay

 

On another night, I could not get to sleep, and it was after midnight. I thought I am lucky to have the opposite "problem" we had at this time last year. We were closed like all "non-essential" businesses last year in April. I thought I should be thankful people actually cared if Rodman Comics was still going to be around or not. I posted on Facebook a thank you post for all that supported us last year. Like a fool, I started typing names of those who helped then realized it would have to run long, and I would most likely forget some people. I forged on and went ahead and posted it.

It is good to know people care about the business. Not everyone is a peach to work with; we still get the occasional person who, for whatever reason, think they know better than anyone else how to run a comic or gaming business, even though they have nothing to do with retail. We deal with a ton of great people as customers. If the coronavirus had hit back when we were newer, back when we had people just coming here for the free gaming events we had at the time, we would not have had enough great customers to keep us going. Our base of great customers has grown a lot.

Typing this has helped my stress a bit. Even though a part of me is thinking, instead of typing this, I should get some store work done! File sales tax, take a few (hopefully) minutes and get my Penguin account open, price comics, get some cards in the case to replace the sold ones, and so on.

I have more and more people asking me when in-store gaming is returning. Not having in-store gaming has not hurt sales. Last I knew Wizards of the Coast, the makers of Magic the Gathering have extended their official no in-play for here in America until at least after June.

I'm working on hiring people. Hiring people is such a crapshoot. For every great employee, there is a not-so-great employee. After ten years of being open, there have been times when I thought I got a lucky break with a good employee and others I wish I had never known. Iowa's unemployment is currently under 4 percent, which is great though it makes it tough to find good employees. I am working on a long shot, getting someone who would be overqualified here; years ago, we even talked about opening a second location. I am too tired to work on a second location, and his situation has changed over the years. Having two overqualified people on staff would be great. Though they say lightning doesn't strike twice, the saying is a myth, so hopefully, it does.

Life is good; I just need to take a step back. Last night got home at 11:30 pm thinking, great; I will get to sleep before midnight. I then remembered two things I still needed to do. An hour later, finally, some sleep. For whatever reason, I am terrible about sleeping in. If there is daylight, I feel like I need to be doing something. That is how I have always been. A customer was telling me how bored he was, and I was just thinking I do not remember the last time I was actually bored. A vacation in the future sounds in order. It is far better to be busy and have products in demand than be bored and not doing anything.

As more and more people get vaccinated (I am counting down the days until my first shot), things are getting better. Hoping for July 4th to actually have a few people over to celebrate. As always, stay safe, everyone!

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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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