Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics of Ankeny, Iowa, writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here. He writes: With everything going on, we had our replacement for Free Comic Book Day, Rodman Comics Day. This was our first sales day after reopening. To get people excited about Rodman Comics Day, one of the many things we have done with previous sales was to give gift bags to the first certain number of people in line. This starts the day with a line of people and a big crowd. In times like these having a line or big crowd is not a great idea. For years I have been saying Free Comic Book Day should experiment. Such as having a coupon to bring back the next week for something. So, we gave out coupons to everyone who bought something on Rodman Comics Day to bring back the following Saturday to be entered for a drawing for gift bags and one graded comic.
It was odd to try not to have a crowded store for a sale. We gave out free comics – comics from our inventory. We have been open for nearly ten years, so we have a few comics. I tried to make as wide a variety of free comics available as possible. The goal was instead of a free comic a person really might not care for but would take just because it was free, instead to give them a comic they would actually like. I tried to pair up a free comic we were giving away to a customer I thought would like it. It worked well. Captain America 405, Capwolf part 4 with the cover of a werewolf Captain America were some of the comics given away. Weeks later, the customer who got that one was still talking about how cool it was. Which, of course, is great, and the excitement for what comics people received for free was higher than in previous years of us hosting Free Comic Book Day.
We did have twenty percent off everything not already discounted as we usually do for a sale.
The following Saturday, I thought the coupon return was underwhelming. People came in, returning the coupon spread out throughout the day. At the end of the day, I counted the coupons returned and were pleasantly surprised. Roughly a third of the people from the previous Saturday did return the coupon.
On the first Saturday of Rodman Comics Day, we were within roughly $400 of the store's sales record. This was really good because, with some past sales and Free Comic Book Days, a new release of Magic the Gathering had come out the day before, which boosted sales. Rodman Comics Day did not have a new Magic release the day before so did not have that boost. The following Saturday, when people returned their coupons was also a very good sales day. Rodman Comics Day was a hit for us. It will next happen on the first Saturday of May in 2021 as our replacement for Free Comic Book Day. With DC leaving Diamond and what happened with this year's Free Comic Book Day, there may not even be a Free Comic Book Day next year. I am not saying I want that; each comic store is unique, some love Free Comic Book Day while some do not. Same with customers.
We did order Free Comics Book Day Comics this year after they became open for order again. We ordered far fewer than ever before, and we had far fewer people interested in them than we have had before. We put them behind the counter and gave them to people who regularly follow a title such as those that get the X Men title when it actually comes out were given the X Men Free Comic Book Day comic. No one who was not a diehard fan of a title asked us for any of the Free Comic Book Day comics this year.
We keep trying new things and seeing what works. Not everything works, though when that happens, we hopefully learn why and maybe try again with adjustments. By trying new things, we have learned and grown.
Stay safe, everyone.