C’mon, I’m just trying to make a living, here.

§ May 25th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on C’mon, I’m just trying to make a living, here.

A brief exchange on the Twitter yesterday, starring pal Dorian, Kevin Church, Mark Hale, Chris Sims, Bully the Little Stuffed Bull, and yours truly:

mikesterling Totally caught a guy switching back issue bags on us. Threw the son of a bitch out. FEAR MY WRATH.

beaucoupkevin Got kicked out of @mikesterling’s shop because I was switching bags on his overpriced Valiant issues. Dick.

mikesterling @BeaucoupKevin: I’ll have you know those issues of Archer & Armstrong are RARE AND HOT.

chaosmonkey @mikesterling: You just wait until Barry Windsor Smith dies! Then you’ll eat your words!

dorianwright I wonder if @mikesterling found those fake ARCHER & ARMSTRONG issues I snuck into inventory?

theisb I hope Kevin gets here with those ARCHER & ARMSTRONG back issues soon. What’s taking him so long?

bullytheLSB: When will @theisb ship me those ARCHER & ARMSTRONG issues I ordered from him?!?

Oh, those cards. Mark gets bonus cool points for referring to this.

So anyway, yeah, we caught some guy just blatantly opening up bagged back issues and swapping the bags around, trying to turn, for example, that $4.00 back issue comic from the ’70s into a 1989 $1.00 comic. (Most of our back issues are marked with year and grade information on the tags, you see.) Once I determined he was doing this deliberately, and not accidentally, I politely invited him to get the hell out…and since everyone at the shop knows who the guy is, that made it a lot easier to let the employees know that he’s totally banned. You know, as in “hey, [CUSTOMER’S NAME] isn’t allowed back in the shop,” rather than “so, that one guy, you know, with the hair…no, not him, that other guy, who bought that one comic….”

It’s a drag, to be sure. I mean, kicking out someone who needs kicking out is fine. He had it coming, so I don’t feel bad about that. But it’s the fact that someone was trying to steal from us…a customer that we knew by name…that’s depressing. Especially over something so trivial as only three or four dollars. It’s not as if any of us are getting rich doing this, and with the economy the way it is, small business is already a struggle without someone trying to nibble away what little profit we’re making.

99% of our customers are great. I love our customers. I’ve watched many of them grow up, get married, have kids…I’ve good relationships with most of them. They share good news with me, I’m a sounding board for their plans or ideas, I’m a sympathetic ear when they’re down, and sometimes I even sell them comics.

So what I’m saying is that our relationship with our customers is, I like to think, a strong and friendly one. And when someone comes in and takes advantage, undermining that relationship by attempting to steal from us…that feels like a betrayal.

I’m taking this too personally, I realize. But it’s hard not to. Part of the problem is thinking of this person as a customer, since he clearly wasn’t.

Anyway, that all sounds like I’m taking this a lot harder than I really am. I’ve done the retail thing for a long time…dealing with shoplifters and other thieves is just part of the job, unfortunately. I try not to let these rare incidents get me down, and remain grateful for the vast majority of my customers who are good, decent people.

…And the customers of mine who also read this site are going to give me all kinds of crap about this post, I just know it. (“So, you looooooove me, Mike?” “No, you’re in that 1% I don’t like.”)

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