“Hmmm…should I buy these Shadowhawks? Let me dwell upon it for an hour or two.”

§ October 28th, 2011 § Filed under retailing § 13 Comments

A few days ago, I had a gentleman come in with a box of comics that he wanted to sell…there weren’t that many, and they were mostly ’90s Image books. I went through them fairly quickly, as they were all 1) in fairly worn condition, and 2) these were books I’d seen a million times that I knew full well we had in stock and didn’t need any more copies of, even if they had been in mint shape. So I made a pass through the stack, told him sorry, but there wasn’t really anything here we could use right now (giving him the two reasons I just related, in as politic a way as I could), and thanked him for bringing them by.

Now, he’d been in the shop earlier in the day, asking the employee at the register if we bought comics. I couldn’t get over to the counter to help, as I was busy elsewhere in the store, but I heard her give the correct reply that we bought comics we could use, if they were in sellable shape, but we’d have to see them and see if it was stuff we needed. She also asked what comics he had, and he never really replied that I could hear, so it’s not like we could have saved him the trip when he told us that it was all stuff from the ’90s.

But anyway, the dude ended up getting pretty steamed at me, since he apparently wasted a trip to the shop after, he said, “she told me you’d buy everything!” which of course isn’t what he was told. And he didn’t like the fact that I spent “three whole seconds” looking at his comics and sarcastically thanked me for “spending all that time” on his collection.

I did attempt to explain, again, that they were all comics we had plenty of in the backroom, and that we simply couldn’t use them, but of course by that time he decided he’d been wronged and there was no reasoning with him.

For the record, I spent a bit more time than “three seconds” looking at the comics. But I know our stock, and what sells, and what doesn’t, and frankly, I have lots of things to do at the store, so if I’m going through a collection and it’s comic after comic we can’t use, I can’t spend more time looking at each comic beyond that which I need to decide “the store doesn’t need this.” I’m not going to pour over each low-grade Youngblood Strike File for two or three minutes apiece before deciding, alas, the store doesn’t need it. I try to be friendly about it, I try to be apologetic about it if we can’t use anything…I try to not be a jerk, is what it comes down to. If you’re selling something, but I can’t use what you’re selling…well, that’s that, really. And I know my job well enough that it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to process collections like these.

Of course, any very minor level of guilt I felt about this situation dissipated the moment he threw a tantrum and lied to my face about the other employee telling him we’d buy it all. I don’t need people like that in the shop. Plus, from the get-go he was pretty pushy and telling me that these were all valuable and nagging me about being careful about how I handle them (because God forbid these VG Brigades drop down to a VG-, since obviously I’ve never handled comics before), so, you know, not really worth the trouble.

But ultimately this did still have a small effect on me, as Thursday two more collections popped by the shop, and I caught myself lingering over some of the books a little longer than normal, so as not to give the false impression that I was simply brushing these folks off. Then I realized “man, I’ve got to finish the monthly Diamond order, I’ve got mail order to do, I’ve got a lady from the local library coming in to get a several hundred dollar order…I GOTS TO BE ME” so I processed the collections at a more efficient speed. One collection netted a pretty good stack of stuff we could use (some Silver Age Daredevil, a lot of THBs, and some other oddball stuff), and the other collection was a bunch of early ’90s Spider-Man books that we had plenty of. The fellow with the second collection got the explanation as to why we couldn’t use them, and this time it went over well. He understood, thanked me for my time, and I thanked him for his…transaction concluded, with nary a hard feeling in sight.

That other fellow who came in yesterday, the one that I did buy a lot of books from…as I was zipping through his boxes, I felt the need to let him know that I was only going so quickly through some of the books because it was stuff I instantly recognized as not being needed, or in low condition, or…and he stopped me, and said “it’s okay, man…you know your business. I trust you.” And that was good to hear.

13 Responses to ““Hmmm…should I buy these Shadowhawks? Let me dwell upon it for an hour or two.””

  • Those stories of retail are always a good read! As someone who bought a lot of crap in the ’90s I kinda feel bad for those guys trying to sell it now, but obviously it’s no reason for them to be a dickhead about it if you won’t buy their shitty comics.

  • Roger Green says:

    I always hated buying collections when I was at FantaCo. People always seemed to know the NM price of all the books and were expecting about 110% of that, instead of 20-30% (because they WERE NOT all NM or we already had or whatever) They always thought we were ripping them off, when a fair section of them we knew would end up in the 25-cent bin.

  • Rich Handley says:

    I always feel, upon reading stories like these, that it’s a shame that the people who really should be reading your blog–the customers who act like jackasses, and could probably learn something from reading you discussion of their behavior–likely are not reading it. The guy who threw a tantrum could learn a thing or two here.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    Too busy poring over his price guide and telling his kids not to bother applying to anything but Ivy League schools ’cause he’s got investments, baby!

  • Wait, Brigades and Youngblood Stike Files aren’t worth any money!?!?! You mean I made a mistake by sinking all my money in those instead of Apple stock!?! Aw, man!

  • Robert in New Orleans says:

    Maybe because I totally missed the nineties’ investing in comics boom, I have no expectations that modern back issues are worth anything. My local LCS owner is always offering various deals to get rid of as much back stock as he can. Y’know, buy $75-tag-price-worth for $50. Or shrinkwrapping bricks of back issues together for low low prices. He does a pretty handy buy-sell business in second hand trade hard/paperback collections, though.

  • Dan Wars says:

    I love reading these stories! I grew up working in my folks comic shop and was always excited to go through collections coming. Cool!

  • Kit says:

    are… are they early comic-sized THBs? *twitches*

  • Roel says:

    There is nothing you could have said or done that would have appeased that jerk. Spending more time looking at his books would not have made any difference in what you decided, or how he reacted. Rest easy, and don’t let the meatheads drag you down — it’s not worth it.

  • MRPRSN says:

    I encountered a similar phenomenon working in a used record store with guys who would be pissed that we didn’t want their mint condition Styx & Boston records.

  • bl000 says:

    I skipped the 90’s hype too, but a few years ago I wanted to read what all the fuss was about SPAWN & picked up the 1st 30 or so issues for a quarter apiece at some con. I told this to a guy I was working with at the time who angrily sputtered that I was lying, no way was SPAWN #1 worth less then $100 by now (2006) & he had multiple copies (of course) of the 1st 50 issues bagged & sitting in his mother’s basement just waiting to be sold & finance his retirement or Phish tour or whatever. I tried to explain a bit about supply & demand to him but you know kids these days..

  • Yeah, I never could understand how people could think something that printed 1,000,000 copies would somehow be scarce or rare in the future. Granted, the print run might not have been common knowledge, but it could be found with a modicum of research. There simply are not 1,000,000 comic book fans out there. Not then, and not today.

    Sad part about this is that we are coming up on the 20 year window for these books, and, to most non-savvy collectors, something that is 20 years old just has to be valuable, guys like these will probably become even more prevalent.

  • Kairow says:

    Hold on…

    Your local library buys from you and not someplace else?

    Let me go back a moment. I buy trades and give my local shop plenty of trade biz, but I will hit my local library to check out titles I am thinking about, but not thinking enough to spend cash on unseen. I have a personal thing about reading in the store. I have bought titles I liked because I was able to spend time with them at the library. I picked up the 2 Justice Leauge Elites becuase I liked what I saw at the library.

    How did you get the library to go through you?