The Very Secret Origin Of Comic Store In Your Future

Rod Lamberti of the Rodman Comics comic store of Ankeny, Iowa, writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here. 

Comic Store In Your Future columns has been coming out now for years. I had to double-check when the first one was officially posted. It was back on Feb 28th, 2017. I had written before for Bleeding Cool, though currently, I am not able to find the past articles. One article I wrote was about my past self talking to my future self. I enjoy history. I do find people who ignore the past are often doomed to repeat it. Writing these articles gives me a chance to remember the past and try not to repeat prior mistakes and keep growing as a person and as a store owner. Yes, I know 2017 is not that long ago, even if 2020 makes it seem like a long time ago.  This line was in the first official Comic Store In Your Future Column: 

"What I hope to do with this article is to help give advice and help point out some things they might not have thought of for people looking to open a comic store."

Which is true, the whole reason I started these. Why do I write these? Because I am selfish. I enjoy comic books so much. I hope to see them outlive me and keep entertaining people long after I am gone. If people take something meaningful from what I wrote, and it helps their business or helps them, it is worth it.

The Secret Origin Of Comic Store In Your Future
Rodman Comics – Comic Store, Google screencap

I was headstrong, thought I could tough it out, and my original plan would work when I first opened. I was wrong. I had to admit I was wrong. Swallow my pride and change things. By owning the store, I learned to admit I could still be wrong, and life would be fine. When I write, they are, of course, my views from owning a small store in Ankeny, Iowa. I am still able to make mistakes; I drop the ball at times writing these, I drop the ball with customers at times, I stay up too late trying to get just "one" more hour of work done. I did promise myself the first year I opened, if the store did close, it would not be due to me not trying. I did not just give up. Over the years after opening, I started out with the mindset, "Is this going to work?" after the harsh reality hit me. Holy smokes, this might work. Followed to this is working! Then a period of burn out dealing with people and giving me an attitude of if this was not making money, I would close it down. Slowly fewer headaches from people lead to me getting braver. I missed the challenges of when I first opened. Should I open another one? Thank goodness, I did not open another store! 2020 is crazy. It is a roller coaster for me as a store owner, and I admit it. As of right now, I am truly fortunate to have a great group of customers. I call it mental fuel. Dealing with good people gives me the positive mental energy to keep going and helps remind me of how thankful I should be for everything.

Again, I write these because I am selfish. I wish I had known about a column that had advice about owning a comic store when I first opened. I could have used all the advice possible.

This does not mean I am always "right." Different views do not mean one is wrong, while another is "right." My store is located in Ankeny, Iowa. When people outside of Iowa ask about the store's location, it is always followed up with where is that or never heard of it. One location to the next, even if in the same city, can mean a lot of difference in the customer base.

We are coming up on our 10th anniversary, which is what got me thinking about the history of the store, along with the history of writing these. I admit I am nervous about our anniversary; how do we have it be a big deal without going over the top? How do I plan for the future?

Sometime back, I bought an extensive comic collection and researched the various comics in the collection. While doing it, I thought, why not share some of the info with people. Try something new, and it grew into the 25 Hot Back Issues feature. Hopefully, some people who read about it find out a comic they have is worth a pretty penny or, like myself, learn something. I was amazed that Sentry 1 was worth so much. Black Panther #2, the first appearance of Shuri I had on the back-issue wall for $40. Learned it was a tad underpriced and threw it online, and it went for over $170.

I reread the first column; a lot still holds true. The My Little Pony series is still going well for us. The little train that could. Now we have My Little Pony Transformers, the crossover. Never thought I would see that as a comic crossover.

"That said, do not burn yourself out." I chuckled; advice I gave in the first column that I sadly fail to follow. Maybe, just maybe though in 2021, things will be less chaotic, and I will finally follow it. Not every year has been a breakneck pace. There have been times I have taken it easy. Just not much this year.

These columns all started from me asking Rich after writing some for Bleeding Cool if he would be interested in a weekly column. He said yes. I had been writing weekly for my store's website newsletter, Projections, and figured what the heck. For a while, I was writing columns for both. Then I figured I would make the store's website more focused on selling material.

After writing these, I have a better understanding of what Rich Johnston does. In these times, it is a race to get the information out there. Speed is important, wait too long, and someone beats you to the story and makes what was going to get written less important. I have had to drop and abandon some of what I have written due to having taken too long to get it done. Get it done too fast before properly editing, then can leave typos. Some people focus on typos or grammar, taking great joy out of finding mistakes even though they were never going to care either way about what was written.

It has been an adventure writing these. I try to have a general guideline mapped out of what to write in the future. Often those plans will have to wait due to the latest news. My thanks to the crew at Bleeding Cool for having me. Hopefully, I will still learn and grow, share what I have learned; there will be interest, and just maybe along the way, some laughs can be shared.

As always, stay safe, everyone.

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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