Magic, Marvel and Monitoring Pullboxes – Comic Store In Your Future

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics of Ankeny, Iowa writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here. He writes on Magic, Marvel and maintaining his customer base in this time of trial,

Bleeding Cool ran an article recently about a comic store that closed due to having to wait for Diamond to start shipping comics again. One vendor for all comics is not a good idea. We have had a lot of success over the last few weeks with DC being for sale on Tuesdays. As I wrote in a previous column one customer was glad DC was releasing product because he was getting out of comic collecting without new material and DC helped pull him back in. Other customers are getting into DC because there have not been any new Marvel comics for a while. DC also helped our cash flow. How can this be when so few titles are being released by DC? The new material got people to purchase other material such as back issues and collections. Much to my surprise we still sold out of titles such as Hawkman and Flash even though I expected a drop in issues sold due to everything going on.

Bleeding Cool also ran this article about some Marvel titles coming out in monthly print issues will now finish up digitally and only see the unreleased issues in print by collected editions. Basically, the titles Marvel is switching to digital makes Ant-Man, Avengers of the Wastelands, Ghost-Spider, Ravencroft. Marvel's Spider-Man: Black Cat Strikes, Hawkeye Freefall (this one was by far the most popular out of the bunch for us) and Star issues we still have on hand beyond useless. Plus, what fun it will be to explain the switch to everyone who had these on their pull lists and picking them up off the shelf. Thanks Marvel. Right now, with everything going on this is exactly not the kind of news comic stores want. [Rich adds – Amazing Mary Jane, Scream: Curse Of Carnage,  Force Works 2020 and Revenge of Cosmic Ghost Rider may be joining them.]

This weekend a new Magic card set comes out: Ikoria Lair of Behemoths. The sign up for the set is very good so far. Like an overconfident fool I ordered our normal amount and did not cut the order. After the release we will see if my gamble pays off.

Diamond is finally able to ship comics again for release on the 20th. The comics they have held for quite a while will finally ship. We will have new DC comics on Tuesday and on Wednesday new Marvel comics. That could be very interesting. I've had people ask me why some stores went online to voice how upset they were about DC going with another vendor because they did not understand their problem with it. I just reply, change can be tough for some. I order Magic the Gathering through multiple vendors and even ordered Magic the Gathering from Diamond back when they offered it. Multiple vendors make more work though it also makes it easier to get product to my customers. For Magic and games, I use Southern Hobby, ACD Distribution and Alliance. Southern Hobby was able to get us product while Alliance, sister company to Diamond, was unable too. I used to order Magic the Gathering products directly from Wizards of the Coast, the makers of Magic, for years before Wizards quit selling directly. No one seems to mind that rhere are multiple vendors for Magic and games. If any vendor for Magic has issues and is unable to supply product such as what happened with Diamond it is not a possible death knell for the Magic market because there are other vendors to use.

Some people have said they thought there would be more comic store closings. We are not out of the woods yet. There could be lasting damage to the customer base. There could be losses stores are unable to recover from and more stores may end up closing. It has only been a few months.

Things for us are going to start picking up quickly, or at least I hope they do. I will try to measure peoples' buying habits. How many people will still stay away due to the virus? How many people will get out of collecting comics altogether due to having to wait so long for new material? This month we will start to get a better picture of what the future might look like. We will play it slow here; slowly expanding our hours and trying to make sure we do not make any mistakes. With the job market suddenly changing we have a much bigger selection for employees. Sadly, we are in the same boat as a lot of businesses and people, not wanting to spend too quickly or overspend.

After we first opened, I learned it would be a marathon and not a sprint to achieve profitability. I wanted to rush to profitability so we spent a lot on advertising and other things that ended up being money that could have been better spent. We will have to see which customers return. Some may have no choice in their spending on collectables now due to a sudden change in their financial situation. These are things we will have to learn starting next week. The marathon begins again.

When we reopen, we will have to be much tougher on the pull boxes. We will have to figure out who is not coming back and who is. We will not be doing new pull lists for a while. For whatever reason, before all this went down there was a spike of people signing up for pull boxes and not even coming back once. The number of people who let us know they were not coming back by calling us? None. We had multiple people saying they would be in to pick up their pulls after we called them and never did. We did have one person let us know after we called them that they bought the comics they had on hold elsewhere after signing up for a pull box here. That is all lost money. We will tell people to pick up comics off the shelf and if we are out of something, we will order it in. If they do not pick it up in a week it goes out on the shelf. If a new person shows they can be responsible enough for a pull box by showing up to buy comics at least monthly then we will look into getting them a pull box. With everything going on we have to protect ourselves from people who could care less if we lose money because of them.

Come October we will mark ten years of Rodman Comics. I joked with others that God willing we will get there. I never dreamed something like a virus would cause so much death and hurt so many businesses. If you want comics to continue simply actually buy comics.

Next week I will be able to report on our sales for the latest Magic set and the return of Diamond shipping comics. Will they up their game after DC went and got vendors? After years of Diamond not worrying about competition how will they handle it? Will we see some improvements? Will stores that cut back their comic business due to dealing with Diamond look to increase their business now that there are other vendors? Will customers be hungry for new comics and cards or unable to afford the hobby? Time will tell.

Until next week, stay safe.

Magic, Marvel and Monitoring Pullboxes - Comic Store In Your Future.
Magic, Marvel and Monitoring Pullboxes – Comic Store In Your Future. Image Creative Commons.

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.

twitter   facebook square   instagram   globe