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Some days I wish I could just go back to posting funny panels in my synopsis of some out-there 1960s Jimmy Olsen comic.

§ April 20th, 2020 § Filed under pal plugging, retailing, sir-links-a-lot, sterling silver comics § 4 Comments

Hot off last week’s presses, some news came down regarding funnybook distribution in our near future. First, Diamond Comics announced that it was looking at a mid-to-late May date to start shipping product out to whatever stores still remain. Nothing nailed down just yet, and I still think it’s really going to depend on the large comic markets like California and New York will be doing in regards to allowing regular retail to resume.

And if that’s not enough, DC Comics has decided not to wait on Diamond, and is instead going to send out at least three weeks of their new comics through a couple of alternative distribution points. It’s not a heavy load of books coming over these three weeks, which is good and bad, I guess. Good in that I’m not being asked to put out a lot of money when not a lot of money is currently coming in, and bad in that there’s not really enough here to goose immediately mail order shipping from customers wanting their new books. But then, you never know..maybe after all three weeks have come and gone there will be enough to get some folks to call in, I think.

Anyway, the books being shipped had their orders cancelled through Diamond, so I had to place new orders for everything. I had to think hard about those orders, given that I’m not going to have the off-the-rack sales as my store will still be closed to the public at least through all three of those weeks. BUT will they sell off the rack once I’m able to open again and people try to catch up? I don’t know…best to order conservatively for now and reorder if I need to.

It’s…a weird time to be a comics retailer. Or any kind of niche retail business, for that matter. The one advantage I have is that comics are escapism, and boy do people want escapism right now.

I’ve been doing…okay, as far as business goes. I’ve had several phone and email orders, and I’m at the post office pretty much every day gettting stuff sent out. I’m not making the money I was, but with Diamond’s invoices paid off, and my rent paid for the next month, I don’t have the same expenses either. (And my planned purchases of that new DC product won’t be very dear either.)

In an odd sort of way, aside from the weird existential dread of awareness that a plague roams the land, working along in my closed shop has been, well, relaxing. Processing mail order, typing old comics into this online spreadsheet for folks to pick from and buy, listening to podcasts as I work…it’s all a bit therapeutic. Which isn’t to say I’m not looking forward to being able to swing my doors wide open again.

So it looks like an interesting month up ahead for my shop, and every shop. Going to try to not let it stress me out too much. And if it does…I’ll just play around with piles of old comics, and all will be well again.

In the meantime:

Don’t forget, I’m still taking orders and want lists and whathaveyou, as well as still doing these packs of 30 random comics for $20 postpaid domestic! Help me clean out my backroom!

Also, over the weekend, one of my regular customers brought me a comics-themed facemask made by her mother! The downside is that you can’t see my quarantine beard that I’ve been growing for the last few weeks. But that’s the price I pay for high fashion!

And so long as I’m being Sir Links-A-Lot again, let me point you at my shop’s website, its Facebook, its Twitter, and its Instagram. News regarding my store’s status during our current situation can be found there…and here on this site, for that matter.

Thanks for reading pals, and stay safe out there. KEEP WEARING THOSE MASKS, even if they’re not as cool as mine!

What do you mean your toothpick boxes don’t say that?

§ April 17th, 2020 § Filed under retailing § 2 Comments

Just to follow up on last Wednesday’s post…a whole lot of folks talking about back issues being priced on the fly as they’re brought up to the counter, which seems…like a lot of work, frankly. There was one shop I occasionally visited down in the Los Angeles area that did that, but the prices were usually very reasonable so I didn’t mind so much. But still…egads. Better to price it once and be done with it so there’s no confusion later.

Granted, that sometimes did result in what we called at the old place of employment “senility deals,” where something that had been sitting in the bins for a while had an old, cheap price that didn’t reflect the hot, expensive price the comic recently acquired. We’d honor the marked price, of course, and then immediately check that there weren’t more of that particuliar book in the bins.

That’s not as much of a problem as you’d think. If it was popular enough to see a sudden increase in price, chances were we were moving copies of it anyway, so we were always refreshing the stock with updated pricing. (This of course is a different issue from brand new comics being tagged as “hot investments” by apps and websites, resulting in unexpected sellouts day of release.)

Probably the most extreme example of the old job getting stuck by the “senility deal” was around the time of the 1989 Batman movie, when suddenly everything that even sort of looked like a bat from a distance if you squinted a bit was in huge demand. One day one of our regulars was digging through the 50-cent boxes when he yelps for joy and exclaims “hey, look what I found!” as he holds aloft a copy of the 1970s Joker #1.

This was a comic that, pre-Batman ’89, you could barely give away. I’d bought my own copy for a dime at a convention sometime the year or two before. But, post-The Batmovie-enning, prices on that comic shot…well, maybe not sky-high, but definitely more than that dime I spent, and very definitely more that the 50 cents we had it marked at. Anyway, it was your pal Then-Low-Man-on-the-Totem-Pole Mike who had to fish through the bargain boxes to pull out any more instances of that funnybook to return it for regrooving repricing.

Related: at one time my former boss was partnered up with someone else in another town, and he ran the old paperbacks section while the other fella ran the comics. And every year when the new price guide came out said fella would reprice everything in the shop, and would let folks know (either verbally or through signage) “prices marked on back issues may not be current.” Frankly that seems like overkill…too much work to avoid losing literal cents, in most cases?

I don’t know…seems to me making sure everything’s priced ahead of time would be the path with the least hassle. What if somone comes up to the counter with a foot-tall stack of back issues to buy? “Yeah, come back in a couple hours while I grade and price these.” Yuk, no thanks. I’ll take the risk of someone getting a copy of Marvel Triple-Action #2 at the two-year-old marked price of $3.50 instead of the current guide’s price of $3.75.

So let me address a couple of your comments from the last post…and speaking of which, I had to slightly edit a couple posts so that a specific store wasn’t called out. I know, everyone tried to be careful about it, I just, um, needed it to be a little more careful. Didn’t mean to step on anyone’s toes about it…hope y’all understand.

Anyway, yer comments:

Dave-El rocketed here from a distant planet to ask

“Of course having a treasury edition reprint of Action Comics#1 is not the same as actually having Action Comics#1. But I’m wondering (and this making me feel very old contemplating this) but those treasury edition reprints are very close to half a century old. Do those treasury edition reprints have any significant value themselves?”

Oh you get they do! Treasury editions are always in high demand around these parts, and because nobody who bought them were able to store them in a way that didn’t result in damage, nice copies can be particularly dear. Even those Famous First Editions reprints, once sold in bulk in discount stores when I was a kid (circa 1980 or so) can be quite pricey.

Like I said, in nice condition. I’ve sold plenty of coies in the Good to Very Good range for $3 to $6 each. But really sharp copies can command higher prices than that, and I don’t have ea price guide at home to tell you just how much, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it that a mint copy of the Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag sells for approximately ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

And Damien puts the dog down to type

“I had the treasury edition of Superman 1 without the cover given to me by a neighbour and I genuinely thought he’d accidentally given me a valuable thing. I was 9, so I had an excuse.”

Hey, don’t feel bad. The “Famous First Editions” were exact reprints of the original comics, aside from the size, with that extra new cover wrapped around it identifying as “HEY THIS IS A REPRINT.” Apparently enough people were stripping off that outer cover and trying to sell what remained as the real deal that the Overstreet guide actually put a notation in their listings describing this scam. I don’t know if it’s so common now, or even how common it was then…but you know how all toothpick boxes have the warning “NOT FOR USE IN EYEBALL” because almost assuredly someone out there had stuck a toothpick in his or her but probably his eye*? So I’m pretty sure at least one person tried to sell a coverless copy of a Famous First Edition reprint to some hapless chump, and he would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling comic book collectors.

* Yes, and tried to sue, hence the warning so the toothpick manufacturer can say “look, we warned people not to do that!”

You get to retell stories you’ve already told once you’re an old person like me.

§ April 15th, 2020 § Filed under how the sausage is made, retailing § 13 Comments

Okee doke, finally going back to this question posed by Twitter pal Tim (which I first mentioned in this post):

“Best example of people overvaluing comics which they were attempting to sell to you (another excuse for you to reference the Death / Return of Superman)”

When I first brought this up, I mentioned I had a specific story in mind that I’d discussed before, probably on this site, certainly on Twitter, and most definitely on Alan David Doane‘s “Comic Book Galaxy” site, where I wrote a monthly column entitled “Mike Sterling’s Behind the Counter” about a decade ago. Look, I had a logo and everything:


Now as it turns out, on the old version of Progressive Ruin, I had a sidebar link to an index page linking all the articles I wrote for the site. That particular piece of HTML still exists, but only the latter half of the articles are archived here. For reasons I no longer remember, the other half were still linking to their original spot over on CBG which no longer exists. And of course, the story I wanted to tell was in the very first column I wrote for that site.

The good news is that I did go and save copies of all those pages directly from CBG before it went down, so back-ups of those earlier columns do exist, and with, you know, the extra free time everyone seems to have nowadays maybe I can get all those earlier columns back up for you to enjoy. Or “enjoy,” as the case may be.

Anyway, that whole preamble is just to tell you that I’m totally just cutting-and-pasting the story Tim’s tweet brought to mind from that old column to this current post. So, here’s Younger Mike with Browner Hair and Working Eyes to tell you about the day someone had an old Superboy comic to sell:

A few years ago, I received a call from someone claiming to have a copy of Superboy #1 in absolutely perfect condition, and that he wanted to bring it in to sell. “Which one?” I ask, since there have been several Superboy #1s on the stands over the years.

“Oh, it’s the very first one…from the 1940s. And it’s in pristine condition!’

Well, I tell him to bring it in and we’ll take a gander at it.

The next day, a couple comes in carrying a briefcase. They identify themselves as the people with the Superboy #1, and gingerly place the briefcase on the counter. Popping the latches, they open the case and carefully lift the comic out.

It’s a Superboy Annual #1, from 1964. Still a nice item, not as rare or expensive as the original Superboy #1, but still not a shabby item to have around. That is, it would have been nice to have around, if not for the fact that this “perfect condition” comic had no cover, and had been so waterlogged at some point in the past that it was now pretty much a solid brick. We tried to explain to the couple, as nicely as we could, that the comic wasn’t the title they thought it was, and it didn’t matter anyway since it was in completely unsellable condition.

Well, they were pretty darn mad. They thought we were trying to pull something over on them, perhaps supposedly trying to get them to part with the book for a pittance…even though we were making it quite clear that we weren’t interested in buying. Angrily, they grabbed up their comic, shoved it back in their briefcase, and stomped out of the store in a huff. For all I know, they’re still wandering from town to town, getting increasingly upset that all these comic shops are turning their noses up at such a “great item.”

That’s gotta be at least 20 years ago now that this happened. I bet they’re still wandering the Earth lookin’ for buyers. Or maybe there was a bitter divorce, with the greatest acrimony saved for the battle over who was going to keep this priceless heirloom. Who’s to say.

If you know this story already, I apologize. For the 70% or so of you out there who don’t have my every online utterance memorized, I hope you enjoyed that story. Granted, it may not entirely fit Tim’s request, as no specific anticipated costs were noted by the hopeful sellers, but it’s pretty safe to say they weren’t expecting a Rip Taylor-esque $1.98 if they were lugging the damn thing around in a briefcase.

And that’s probably the apex of my “people hoping for more than what they were offered” stories. I mean, it happens all the time, of course…people walk in (or used to walk in, before The End Times) thinking their comic is worth millions, and are shocked when they get offered $10. Most people understand, once “condition” and “demand” are explained to them, but it’s so commonplace it’s hardly even stands out any more. Even with the Death of Superman issue, one of which I have in the case right now, the customer is usually all “I remember when these sold for $300!” before selling it to me for, like, $15 or $20.

More common is when comics show up in collections with price tags from other shops/sellers…and not current or local sellers, usually, but tags on things that had been in storage for a while, that sort of thing. I wrote about a couple examples here, where some shop apparently only saw the price of “$24.00” for every price guide entry.

Another example is that there’s someone at a local flea market who sells old comics in decaying, yellowing polyethelyne bags with felt-tip pen prices written on them (the bags, not the comics) that are laughably out of bounds. Could be these bags were reused from previous, actually expensive comics (not likely), or that the prices were deliberately inflated so that when he actually had them priced at $2 or whatever, buyers would think they’re getting a real bargain, or they’re just streaight up invented. I have no idea what the story is.

Oh, there’s another thing that happens once in a while that I just remembered. It’s the personal collection where someone’s already gone through all the issues and assigned prices to them by affixing sticky notes to each bag (or directly on the comic) with their estimated price scribbled thereon. Sometimes the prices are the mint ones, sometimes they’re the lowest marked price in the guide (and occasionally even that’s too high), and sometimes, again, they’re just made up out of thin air. I understand the impulse to do it, to make sure they’re at least somewhat informed before attempting to unload the stash, but the prices almost never have any bearing on whatever offer is eventually made.

As to a couple of your examples:

William Lynch serves up the following

“There’s a guy in our coin club who keeps trying to convince us that his 1990s Pizza Hut X-Men giveaways are worth a mint.”

That’s a weird sort of collectible, in that it seems like it should be something that’s rare, valuable and in demand. It features big name characters, it’s in a non-standard format and it comes from a non-traditional comics venue. Surely these are hard to come by and command high prices! Except nobody cares, really. No comment on the actual quality of the books, but…I don’t know if it’s because of the nonstandard format, or because they come from a period of X-Cessive X-Men stuff being available everywhere, but they’re almost impossible for me to move. For a while they were even getting dumped on me in collections, and I have a stash in the backroom still, waiting for the ones in the main room to sell and require replacing.

• • •

Michael Grabowski hands over this

“…In the mid-80s my uncle gave me a bunch of fair (or less) condition late 60s Marvel Annuals. One of them was X-Men Annual #1, published in 1970. I loved those comics and that gift, but they are long gone. He now insists that it was a mint condition X-Men #1 which he regrets having given to me.”

Ah yes, the imaginary expensive comic. I get that every once in a while. The folks who insist that they have a “first Superman comic” or something back at the house or in their grandma’s attic or whatever that they swear they’re going to find and bring in. Well, okay, it’s been a long time since this was a commonplace occurrence, but 15, 20 years ago I seemed to get it all the time, to the point where it was a kind of running joke. No idea what they actually had, unless it was one of these treasury edition reprints from the 1970s.

Sometimes folks would ask “what would you give me for [old comic I totally have at home, no foolin’]?” and we’d say “probably a lot of money…bring it in!” and of course we’d never see that person again.

• • •

And a couple of you brought up the dreaded “cat pee” comics, which is an entirely different problem. Usually we didn’t even get to the point of discussing money, we’d just say “plese remove these from our presence, they do offend the olfactory senses” or words to that effect.

On par with the awfulness of cat pee was the time at the previous place of employment we somehow ended up with a collection that had been kept in, of all places, an airplane hanger. The wonderful smell attached to said comice we were told was plane fuel. …For all I know, those are still being aired out. So kids, keep your comics away from cat pee and airplanes, and especially from cats flying planes.

• • •

Speaking of cats, Robcat slinks in with

“I am actually more interested in the flip side. You ever find anything really valuable in what people thought was probably all junk?”

Hoo boy…I think the closest I came was at my own shop, where someone brought in a shoebox full of old comics and on the top of the stack inside was Adventure Comics #247, the first appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes, which I’d never actually had as a comic for sale either at the old job or at my current one. Now the other comics in the box were pretty good too (mostly Batman comics from the same period) but a major key book like this sure stood out from the rest of the bunch.

A story I once heard (and now I can’t remember if it was my old boss Ralph or our late, lamented customer Bruce) involved the cleaning of a garage stuffed with old junk and newspapers, and finding, tucked into one of those newspapers, a mint copy of Captain America #1, the 1940s one with Cap slugging Hitler. (And if either Ralph or Bruce called it “mint,” it was definitely mint.) Needless to say, the garage cleaning slowed to a crawl as now suddenly everything was searched, every box, every drawer, every remaining newspaper, for similar funnybook treasures. …Of course, that Cap comic was the only one found.

For another story of surprise finds, please see this comment from Tenzil Kem.

• • •

If you read this far, you’re probably home by now, so let me leave you with this: speaking of things I’ve talked about before, in reference to our recent discussions about Pariah from Crisis on Infinite Earths, please enjoy this old post of mine.

Least appropriate use of he phrase “all the rage” thus far.

§ March 30th, 2020 § Filed under collecting, retailing, self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 5 Comments

So over the last few days I’d been getting requests for two specific issues of Spectacular Spider-Man. No, not that series. Or the other series. Or that other one. I’m talkin’ the original one, the one that began with “Peter Parker, The…” before the title. …No, not that one.

Anyway, my curiosity was piqued as to why these issues, and though I (almost certainly correctly) suspected one of those websites or apps that “inform” folks intent on speculation and investing was responsible, I was wondering just what specific thing was driving this demand.

As you all know, things have been a tad topsy turvy this past week or two, so I had other things on my mind besides researching peculiar demand for a couple of issues of a Spider-Man comic that generally, and no offense to any fans or involved creators, back issue bin filler of no particular note.

But I had some time on Sunday, my first break in a while (more on that later in this very post) and finally sat down an did an eBay search on these requested issues. And I found many a listing with multiple variations on this title:


They’re in demand. Because there’s a character named “Corona” introduced in these books.

Oh come ON.

Needless to say, there’s no connection between Corona the comic book character and the coronavirus, aside from the names, much like there’s no connection between Corona the beer and said virus (but if you saw any of those articles claiming that Corona the beer had suffering sales as of late due to the pandemic, here comes Snopes to clear that particular misconception).

This doesn’t smell like “investment” so much as a recommendation by others to buy ’em cheap out of back issue bins of unsuspecting dealers and then bilk someone on eBay for a lotta dollars by making them think they’re getting a rare collectible.” Well, okay, that’s investment of a sort, but there’s no way something like this is any kind of long-term investment. It’s “buy and flip quick” while the coronavirus is all the rage.

Look, I’ve said before, however people want to enjoy the comics hobby, that’s fine, knock yourself out. But when I found out what was driving this need for these comics…well, my mostly-working eyes couldn’t help but roll awfully hard. Sheesh, “it’s an ill wind…” and all that.

Speaking of ill winds and what they don’t blow, my shop and I have been lucky enough to avoid such zephyrs and actually take in normal income since the California shutdown a couple of weeks back, despite being closed to walk-ins. My doors may be shut, but I’m working hard behind them all by my own self, taking phone orders and internet orders and eBay sales and getting ’em all packed up and shipped out. Now I don’t know how long that’ll last, given I did have a boost from a last new comics shipment from Diamond on Wednesday (resulting in sales that were pretty much on par with regular non-shutdown New Comics Day sales). But folks have been eager to throw business my way, and even prepay for material I won’t receive ’til Diamond revs up the ol’ supply line again.

Now I have been very busy, as it seems like I just take a phone or email order, start packing stuff, get another order called in, add that to the pile, then get more orders, and so on. Like I said above, I haven’t really had a chance to sit and relax for a moment at the shop until I had a brief respite on Sunday. And even then, I began posting some random books in a Twitter feed and on the store Instagram and will likely do more of that as time allows.

And speaking of the Instagrams, I offered (and am still offering) a special deal…$20 (which includes shipping) gets you 30 random comics. Good way to get you some comics for reading, giving to the kids, cutting up for art projects, and the like. And it clears out some stock from my backroom, too! It’s a win/win! Just PayPal $20 to my store’s email address (mike at sterlingsilvercomics dot com) and I’ll send you a package, too! Domestic customers only, though if you live in another country let me know and maybe I can get something worked out for you.

Bet you weren’t expecting a commercial. Sorry, gotta find ways to keep that cash flow active, especially if things get a bit leaner as this situation continues.

Anyway, stay safe out there, follow Nancy’s advice, and let’s all get through this so we can get back to focusing on fun stuff…all them funnybooks. Tell you what…next post I make here will be virus-free. …Er, you know what I mean.

Or just send me shoeboxes filled with twenties.

§ March 25th, 2020 § Filed under retailing, sterling silver comics § 8 Comments

As I’m sure you’ve already heard, Diamond Comics has, after this week’s shipment, suspended delivery of new comics to retailers until further notice. I feel this is, in general, a good thing, preventing unsold stock from piling up in stores in currently locked-down areas (like mine) with bills for invoices piling up.

I mean, at least in the short term. The new comics I have now I’ll be shipping out to customers who’ve paid via PayPal or called-in credit cards…packing is going to be taking up most of my Wednesday. It won’t be as lucrative as a normal New Comics Day, but it’s still going to be income, and I can still use it, as I do have to pay for this week’s shipment. And last week’s, as I’m on a “net-14” pay schedule with the distributor, meaning I have two weeks to pay each invoice. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem covering both bills, I think, as customers have been pretty willing to buy stuff from me over the last few days, thankfully.

I’m not 100% looking forward to new comics-less weeks and not getting those sales, though I have have enough stock here to sell to hopefully keep at least some money coming in. The trick is getting it up somewhere where folks can pick through it. I don’t have an online store aside from my eBay listings, and that isn’t necessarily representative of what I’ve got in the back issue bins and on the shelves. A lot of my business came from walk-ins, and that’s where I focused things. Now that I don’t have walk-ins, I’ve got to figure out a new strategy, which will be my new project once I’m done dealing with this week’s new comics cycle.

One place to keep an eye on is my Instagram page, where I’m probably going to be posting some choice items out of the case in the next few days. That’ll be relatively quick and easy, though I don’t want to overwhelm the feed. And I may be posting things on my store website, so keep an eye out there, too.

Of course, you can just send me want lists, and I’ll see what I’ve got. I never have a problem with that.

I do have to admit, I wasn’t entirely prepared for this, but then I wasn’t expecting most of the U.S. economy to just up and shut down. But I plan to hang in there, and I think I can make it through to the other side of this. I mean, what else am I going to do, quit the comic business and get a real job? FERGIT IT

Working harder closed than I did when I was open.

§ March 23rd, 2020 § Filed under retailing, sterling silver comics § 4 Comments


So I have a stack of Free Comic Book Day promotional material set aside at the shop, that either has to be discarded or repurposed since, as you probably heard and probably shouldn’t be surprised by, the event has been postponed to maybe the summertime? We’ll see…it all depends on how our current situation works out.

And when I say “repurposed,” I mean, like, what if the FCBD crew issues a bunch of stickers with the new date, once it’s established, that we can just slap over the old “May 2nd/First Saturday in May” tags on the posters and shelftalkers and such. Unless it’s just cheaper to reprint everything, I don’t know.

Pictured above is the Free Comic Book Day pen…I ordered a bundle for the store, and, now that I look at it, it really could have used a second line of print reading “FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY” to be properly promotional, but, you know, as it turns out, that didn’t really matter this year. Regardless, I just kinda look at that bag of pens and have this…sorta sad feeling, I guess? Sad that we got all this stuff for the big comics store event of the year and now it was just all for nothing. Yes, I know, not nothing since a FCBD is still supposed to happen eventually, but still, having this material on hand when most of it is, as it stands now obsolete is pretty affecting.

But this FCBD pen is still good. And it even writes!

In other “the store is closed to the public due to the CA shutdown” news…my shop is doing okay with phone and mail orders, along with a couple of very generous prepayments for future product. I managed to go through my comic saver list and call everyone, and already have had a lot of folks setting up mailing schedules on their items, or just straight up paying me for whatever’s in their box which they can pick up once the world settles town a tad.

Still haven’t heard from Diamond to discuss how to handle payment of invoices for the time being, since my income is going to take a hit, and how I can make sure the new weekly shipments will still head my way. Did call my landlord to tell him that next month’s rent may be a bit tricky to pay, but fortunately he’s on board and willing to work with me on that, too. What choice do any of us have, really?

Anyway, doing my best to keep my shop viable, and not turn this site into a “closing a store for good” document. Here’s hoping things ease up soon…not just for my store, of course, but for everyone’s health and safety.

Well, here we go.

§ March 20th, 2020 § Filed under retailing, sterling silver comics § 9 Comments

The California governor has issued a statewide stay at home order, with only essential services to remain open, like grocery stores, gas stations, law enforcement, that sort of thing.

As much as I’d like to think my shop is an essential service, that means I’m gonna have to shut down as well.

Now it’s my understanding I can still work in the shop, just not have it open to the public, and thus I’ll be able to receive shipments, mail orders out, etc. I have some funding options and emergency grants I can pursue, and I’ll have to call Diamond tomorrow and see what I can do about managing my invoices there on my assumed reduced income.

Of course, Wednesday and Thursday were very good days of business at the store, but even as good as it was, that’s not going to pay for my incoming inventory without financial assistance. Hopefully some of the options I’ll be exploring will provide it.

Anyway, I’ll try to keep folks updated here, and naturally on all my store’s various online venues, as to what’s going on. If you are a regular customer of mine, feel free to call or email me…the plan is to be at the store my regular work hours, more or less, so I’ll do my best to work with you during these troubled times.

Good luck to everyone out there, and absolutely feel free to contact me. Thanks for reading, pals.

Look, you’re gonna need something to read while you’re stuck at home, right?

§ March 18th, 2020 § Filed under retailing § 1 Comment

So…business continues to be within normal averages. Monday was slow, aside from a sizable purchase, but Mondays are generally slower days anyway. Plus, it was pouring rain most of the day and that historically keeps people from wanting to go out and buy items made of paper. And Tuesday’s sales were pretty typical for a Tuesday.

The real test will be how my Wednesday sales go. I did get my comic shipment on time on Tuesday, with an emailed message from Diamond informing retailers that we were permitted to sell the new product upon receipt, rather than waiting for the usual on-sale date. On top of that, there have been some notices from publishers regarding retail support in the form of full returnability for titles during certain ship weeks. I also spoke to a distributor rep about direct assistance regarding the impact of current events on invoice payments and such, and was told that Diamond is working with retailers to, well, keep them in business.

As it stands right now, barring enforced closure of all businesses and a stay-at-home order, it’s possible I’ll still be able to generate some income. Folks are still out and about, so I’m getting some walk-ins, and I’m seeing a number of phone orders/internet sales as well. No idea if that’ll last or not, but it is a slight relief that I have the option of working something out with Diamond if things really go south. Hopefully the landlord will be equally willing to work with me…as well as the various doctors also expecting payments. Sigh.

So yes, I’ll be open for business regular hours until further notice. Most of the other shops ‘n’ such in my particular strip of businesses have either reduced their services (restaurants all pretty much just doing take out), closed up entirely (noooo, not the massage parlor), or at the very least have encouraged “curbside assistance” (the veterinarian asking folks to bring their pets to the door and knock, rather than coming into the waiting room). So hey my Wednesday customers, there’s plenty of parking!

With any luck I can ride this out…it may be tight, it may be ugly, but I’m thinking I can probably make it. I hope. I mean, I gotta…too many people depending on me to get them Bad Idea comics.

Maybe I can pay for the weekly comics shipment with toilet paper and bottled water.

§ March 16th, 2020 § Filed under cranius, pal plugging, retailing, swamp thing § 4 Comments

So I expected some kind of dropoff in business this weekend due to the coronavirus, but surprisingly sales remained within their usual range, if not, perhaps, slightly above what I estimated. Now it could be people coming in and loading up on reading material for their sequestering, or that the full impact of what’s going on hasn’t quite settled in (though that’s hard to argue if you’ve seen the state of any grocery stores in the last couple of days), but so far, I’ve been doing okay.

Now whether that continues as everything continues to shut down and more people decide to stay home, I don’t know. Or it could be that folks are just in initial panic mode and that perhaps behavior will begin to normalize as the realization sets in that the world isn’t ending just yet. Again, don’t know.

It’s a level of uncertainty that I’m not particularly enjoying, as I’m sure most people out there are also experiencing. “How do I make money if I don’t work?” “How do I make money if no one is making money to spend at my store?” “How do I make money if people stop going out to shop?” It’s pretty rough. I have to worry about paying my rent, paying for the weekly Diamond invoices, paying myself so I can pay my regular expenses, oh, and saving up for a tax bill that I didn’t think I was going to have up until about two weeks ago. If money stops coming in, then I’ve got no money to go out, and that will be that.

Like I said, business has remained relatively steady, and it could be I’m worrying too much. Could be I’ll ride this out just fine, pinching pennies here and there, taking in few collections, while income is still coming in, even at slightly reduced levels. And I’m still doing mail order, and have offered my local customers the option to ship their books to them if they would rather not make the trip. But if things cut off entirely…well, my landlord and Diamond and my various utilities will hopefully be understanding.

Sigh. Anyway, so it’s not all doom and gloom, let me show you this pic that pal Matt Digges gave to me as a birthday present this weekend:


Heck yeah that’s Arcane and Cranius from Swamp Thing! And you guys know I loves me some Cranius.

Okay, let’s see what the week brings us. Hopefully things will get better, we’ll all start trying to lead normal (if health-conscious) lives, and panic rushes on grocery stores will subside. I mean, I certainly hope they do, I’m runnin’ short on paper towels.

Not to be confused with “Bad Idea Jeans.”

§ March 12th, 2020 § Filed under publishing, retailing § 6 Comments

So you may have heard about this new comics company (comprised, I think, of several former Valiant Comics folks) called “Bad Idea,” which the more I talk about this publisher the more hilarious and clearly self-aware its name sounds to me. Anyway, their deal, which is admittedly a bit weird, is that they’re initially only going to be offering their comics to a limited number of retailers, and that said comics wouldn’t be reprinted, collected, digitized*, variant-ized, or spindled or mutilated too, I’m presuming. Originally they announced it was only going to be 20 retailers, then they upped the number to 100, and, well, clearly I’m talking about it here because I managed to get my store on that list.

When I first heard about this, I contacted the publisher, expecting, like, there was going be a $1000 buy-in or something in order to participate. But, nope, just had to fill out an application/agreement thing, and then after whatever selection process was completed, got the email that I was in. I’m not being forced to order more comics than I’m comfortable with, so, you know, I’m willing to give it a shot. And after I announced it on my site and social media outlets, and after the list of retailers showed up elsewhere, I started getting interest from my customers and requests to add their titles to pull lists, so let’s see how it goes.

It is a weird business model, contrary to most business strategies, or what passes for them, at most comic companies. Conventional wisdow is that collected edition sales is where the longterm profit is at, and that digital sales is what all the kids are into, or where the future of comics is at, or that sort of thing. Plus on top of everything else, putting a cap on the number of outlets allowed to even order the books…I mean, it certainly got everyone’s attention, but I hope they’ve figured out a way to make money on this. I’m sure they have, but it certainly seems odd. Which, I guess, is the point.

I don’t know how long these particular strategies are going to remain in place, or how long they’ll stand against general market forces, but I’m glad I’m in there on the ground floor and trying this company out. No idea how it’ll all do, but it has my interest. One thing I’m wondering about is just how to order on these. Like I said, I’ve already had a bit of demand for these from customers, so that gives me at least an idea on what to order. But I can see folks who aren’t near a shop carrying Bad Idea books going down the list of retailers and calling each one, looking for copies to mail order. I like mail order, I do a lot of mail order, so I wonder how many copies extra I should have on hand for this sort of demand? I do not know. Don’t want to go overboard on numbers, but don’t want to be stuck short either. But if any of you reading this want any of these comics, let me know, I’ll be happy to send it to you!

You can read more about the publisher on its site.

* At least officially…sigh.

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