This is a whole lot of typing about new comic shipments.

§ July 25th, 2019 § Filed under retailing § 6 Comments

Now the way it’s supposed to work is that weekly new comic shipment from Diamond would arrive on Tuesday, giving you ample time to break down the order, sort and count the comics, call in damages and shortages, and then do the pulls for your comic saver or whatever. And then, of course, get all the new product out on the shelves that evening (or maybe the next morning, as you’d like) so that everything’s good ‘n’ ready when you swing open your doors on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, stuff happens, as it did this week. As my business depends on getting my comics, obviously, I keep close tabs on the tracking information for each of the packages, starting Monday evening when said tracking starts getting updated. When everything’s going smoothly, my packages should arrive at a certain distribution hub near Los Angeles, before being sent to my local shipping station a few miles south of me, where, if things go to plan, the tracking should say “On Delivery Truck” or even better, “Out for Delivery” sometime Tuesday morning.

Well, this time around my packages went from that one hub near Los Angeles to another hub near Los Angeles, and I know from experience, if that happens, then it’s not going to the local center until the next day. Meaning, of course, no comics for your pal Mike on Tuesday…they’re a’comin’ sometime on Wednesday.

I did vent a bit about it on Twitter, mentioning the shipping company by name, which, I should have remembered, will alert whatever keyword-searching process they use and they immediately replied with “we’re very sorry, how can we help?” Alas, that help didn’t extend to getting my packages to me on time or even explain why my packages were delayed, but they looked like they were reaching out to help publicly, and I guess that was the important part.

Sorry, that sounds like I’m a bit annoyed. Well, I am, but mistakes happen, and it’s not the end of the world. But it did mean I didn’t get my comics ’til about 20 minutes before I opened on Wednesday, and was put in the absolutely swell position of having to tell customers, walking in the door with money to spend on new comics, “sorry, come back later.” To be fair, everybody was cool about it and they know it wasn’t my fault, and most everybody came back as they were able. Ended up having a pretty good Wednesday, in fact.

But I was stressing hard, powering through the comic sorting and putting some on the shelves while leaving a sufficient number aside so I can do my copious comic saver pulls. And doing it all as fast as possible. Me, the guy the doctor told to “take it easy” and “don’t stress,” so I don’t end up with, oh, you know, more hemorrhaging in my eyes. Particularly now that my eyesight is greatly improved.

So ultimately, I had all the new product counted and (what I didn’t keep aside for savers) out on the shelves by about half past noon. Comic savers were done in the mid-afternoon. All while I was running the shop and selling comics. This was not the slow and easy comic-selling lifestyle that the brochures promised.

Ah well. Luckily I’ve been at this for a while so I know how to make the best of the situation, and it helps that my customers are all so understanding. But really, I hope I don’t have any more problems. …Well, I mean, I will eventually but maybe I could have a week or three without ’em.

Before the day-early deliveries on Tuesday started, getting the comics Wednesday morning was the norm. It would of course depend on whenever the delivery truck arrived…we had the same driver for years at the previous place of employment, and he would often come very early, giving the (usually) three of us plenty of time to get that order sorted and counted and pulled. Though sometimes we’d have a substitute driver and, oh, hey, here are the new comics at 4 PM, thanks.

Near the end of my tenure there, our regular driver had retired, and our shipment arrival times were all over the map. Tuesday delivery was in place then, but still it was nice to get the books early so we could get it all done and, you know, call in the shorts/damages while someone was still in the office at the distributor. So, the alternative plan was put in place…since I drove by that store’s local UPS center on the way to work, we’d just have the shipping company hold those packaes there for pick up, where I’d grab ’em, take them to the store, and we’d work our magic on them. We got them at a consistent time every week, and we were able to properly plan our workday.

Used to be, in ye olden tymes, that our distributor, back when it had a warehouse in Los Angeles, would deliver the comics themselves, often arriving very early in the morning. And sometimes former boss Ralph would drive down to L.A. himself to pick up the comics, thus avoiding any of the misrouting issues that your pal Mike had this week.

And then long before that, we’d have the “regular shipping” comics and then the “air freight” comics, where select titles would arrive outside of, and earlier than, the normal shipping schedules, but now we’re getting to well before my comics retail servitude, so perhaps let’s leave it there for now ’til I can bend Ralph’s ear for more details.

So anyway, that was my day. Worse things happen at sea, I know, but late comic shipments are no fun. At least they showed up, versus just disappearing entirely, which has happened to me before, too. Not a recommended experience.

6 Responses to “This is a whole lot of typing about new comic shipments.”

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Have you considered the possibility that the comics were there all along, and you just did not see them?

  • JohnJ says:

    Were you working in a shop during the UPS strike in the middle 90s? For 3 weeks Diamond would send the shipments for several stores to a warehouse in a Chicago suburb for many of us to drive in and pick up our stuff. It was a 300-mile round trip for me and my only experience to see real rush-hour traffic for those weeks, alternately crawling and hell-bent interstate traffic. It was also back when Friday was still new-comic day.
    I remember it as the first chance I’d had to listen to Howard Stern, although I could only pick him up after driving half-way there. Around DeKalb, the station would come in.
    Fortunately, that was a relatively short strike.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    “but still it was nice to get the books early so we could get it all done and, you know, call in the shorts/damages while someone was still in the office at the distributor.”

    So Diamond closes up at 5PM on Tuesdays, the day new comic shipments are supposed to arrive? They can’t spare a single person to be in the office until, oh, say, 9PM to make sure mistakes are addressed?

    It’s a good thing they aren’t the only distributor in a somewhat fragile industry with a perishable product that heavily depends on one day of the week for a large portion of sales.

  • Mikester says:

    John J. – I do remember the UPS strike…I think during this period the boss was driving down to the L.A. warehouse to get out stuff. I don’t really remember many details about how that impacted our comics stuff. I have a stronger memory of the game side of it, as our sales rep from our regular games distributor drove our product to us himself, which is the first (and only!) time I met the fella I only knew as a voice on the phone!

    T. Monk – in general, someone is available at Diamond ’til 4 PM Pacific time (though my own assigned rep is only there ’til 3, which is a little annoying, but I can call anyone with shortages and such).

  • Matthew says:

    Back in the early 2000s when I was in Newfoundland new comics would come out on Fridays due to things being trucked in from the mainland. If there was a holiday anywhere in the USA or Canada or inclement weather somewhere comics delivery would get bumped to the following Monday. I hope its better now.

  • jingyang says:

    I used to have a regular order at Banana Comics in Taipei Taiwan when I lived there way back in 2006 (Unfortunately it’s since closed down) – one of the owner’s ongoing frustrations (despite having lived in the US and speaking good English) was dealing with Diamond when their order was late/incorrect etc – there always quite often some kind of communication problem as whoever answered the phone at Diamond would take a look at the store details and panic that they didn’t speak Chinese…