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I keep rememering another employee every couple of minutes to add to that list.

§ May 25th, 2020 § Filed under how the sausage is made, sterling silver comics § 3 Comments

So first, a correction/addendum to a previous post.

I was talking to my former boss Ralph, who owned the comic shop I used to work at, the other day, and he had a bone to pick with me. “I was reading your blog, and you co-opted my story!” he admonished me, and I was genuinely didn’t know what he meant. And he told me it was that story about the Superboy Annual #1 some folks were trying to sell. “That happened to me, not you!” he chided me.

Now first, Ralph was just giving me a bad time…he wasn’t really mad. Ralph’s a friend, and we’ve known each other pretty close to 40 years now, and if anyone has the right to give me a ration of shit, it’s Ralph.

Second…I honestly wasn’t trying to steal Ralph’s sauce in my story, or really in any story I tell about my days in servitude at the previous place of employment. In the case of the Superboy comic story, I believe I was in fact the person who took that initial call, as stated. But the rest of the related events did in fact directly involve Ralph. I was merely a Concerned Onlooker, watching and thinking “this will make a good story on my blog once those are a thing a decade from now.”

When I write about happenings at the old job, I tend to use an editorial “we,” as in “all us guys and the occasional gal who were at the shop.” I think my thinking in how I tell these stories is that what is happening and who is doing it is the point of the tale, over to whom these events are happening. In my head I know this stuff happened to Ralph, or to Rob, or Dorian, or Corey, or Aaron, or Dave, or Rachel, or Sean, or Timmy, or Damian, or Nathan, or the other Nathan, or Shirley, or one of the Joshes, or Greg, or someone else I’m probably forgetting, or even me.

I mean, there are specific events that happen to specific people at the shop. The lady who gave a withering “I’m very disappointed” when we didn’t have an issue of Stray Toasters…that happened to me. When the shop was visited by lady wrestlers in full regalia…I’d say that’s a thing that happened to “us.” Sometimes I don’t remember who was there at the time when things happened…like I don’t remember which fellow employee was with me when the lady selling a cleaning product door-to-door demonstrated how safe and non-toxic it was by removing the nozzle and licking the tube that dropped down into the bottle.

But in the case of the Superboy story, that was definitely Ralph who had to deal with those folks. When I said “we” in that story, that meant “Ralph, who was dealing with them directly, and me, who was listening to Ralph dealing with them while I was restocking, I don’t know, West Coast Avengers or something.” I’ll try to be a little clearer about these things in the future, and give credit where credit is due.

In current store news…so far, things are going swimmingly. Customers are happy to shop in the store again (while practiciing proper health safety, of course) and I finally had some reasonable days of business after two months of scrambling to make sales. Well, okay, Sunday was a bit slowish, and I expect Monday, a holiday, may be a little slow as well. Or it may be hugely busy because it’s a holiday…who knows. People are still being cautious about venturing into the diseased outdoors, so it may be a while before my business..or anyone’s business, is back to normal. I’m just glad I was able ride out the shutdown, but there are still plenty of challenges to come.

I know I promised something funny this time.

§ May 22nd, 2020 § Filed under retailing, sterling silver comics § 10 Comments

So Wednesday afternoon, a lady from the city came by to make sure my store had all the proper COVID-19 awareness signage and procedures in place, telling me that she hopes to get the go-ahead to let stores open to the public again by the weekend.

Thursday morning I received an email from the city, telling me “so long as you did [all the things the lady on Wednesday told me to do], open on up.” And that’s how Sterling Silver Comics is once again open to walk-in business, so long as you’re wearing a mask and trying to stay at least six feet away from anyone else.

I mean, that was a complete surprise to me. It was only a week or so ago that we got the okay to do curbside pickup. I was sure I’d have to keep my doors locked during the day for about another month or two. Huh, go figure. At least now I have a fightin’ chance at paying those invoices I was worrying about last time.

It’s welcome news, I mean, at least financially for me. But it’s really going to depend on how well people continue to protect themselves, and not get lax about it just because things look like they’re returning to some semblance of “normal.” First guy in the door on Thursday, a longtime customer of mine, didn’t have a mask…I told him next time he’s gotta wear one, and since he’s not one of these “BUT MY FREEDOMZ” disease-vectoring yahoos I’ve been seeing on the news, he agreed. Rest of my customers that day were sufficiently covered however.

All this said, I’m still offering curbside pickup and mail order as options, if folks would rather not venture in public spaces, which I totally understand. Plus I’m still doing these 30 for $20, or 75 for $45, packs of random comics, because I’m trying to clear out my backroom. And I’m taking your want lists, and I’m still putting stuff up on this Google sheet in lieu of an actual database, so let me know if you want anything off there.

Look, I wasn’t trying to trick you into reading an ad for my store. But these are hard times for comic shops, and even though I was lucky to hang in there so far during this epidemic, I still need to shore up the ol’ cash flow.

Sigh. You know, when I first started this blog I wasn’t planning on ever bringing up that I worked in a comic shop. Now look at me.

I’ll try to post something funny next time.

§ May 20th, 2020 § Filed under retailing, sterling silver comics § 1 Comment

This is the week that the major comics distributor, Diamond Comics, is starting up said distribution again, getting new comics into shops. After having relatively small shipments of just new DC Comics over the last few weeks from an alternative distributor, I suppose it was time to start gearing up the shop for these larger shipments coming in…though as it turned out, even Diamond is moving slow at first, easing back into the business.

Now Diamond wasn’t shut down entirely over the last couple of months, as they were still distributing reorders so long as you asked for them to be directly shipped from the warehouse…as opposed to having them sent with your regular weekly shipments, of which there had been none of late. My mistake, of course, was that the day before Diamond announced it was putting their weekly shipment on hold, I put in a largish reorder that I asked to have sent with the weekly deliveries. And of course there were lots of special requests in that reorder, so I had a lot of apologizing to do to those customers (all of whom were understanding and patient, thankfully).

The big issue is being able to take in enough income to cover the invoice costs each week. Not a problem right now, with small shipments (in fact, pretty much covered the week’s new comics costs with just my Tuesday sales), but based on coming weeks, it looks like New Comic Days will be approaching pre-shutdown levels. The trick here is that my store, like many retail stores in California (and elsewhere in the country) I’m closed to public access by government decree. I can do curbside pickup, so I’m very much encouraging folks to take that option and get their comics right quick so I can keep paying those gimmicks they keep sending in the mail called bills.

Again, not much of an issue now, but if I’m gonna be getting new larger Diamond invoices and I’m still keeping the customers out..well, that’s gonna be rough. The good news is that I did finally receive some financial assistance from the Binc Foundation…not, like, enough to keep my store afloat for months or anything, but hey, it ain’t nuthin’ and it’ll come in handy. Now if I could get that Paycheck Protection Program money or that Small Business Administration disaster relief grant, I’d be in a lot better position. Pretty sure cruise lines got all the PPP money, but maybe they’ll find some spare change behind the cushions in the chairs in their lobby to cover my payroll…which is, like, me. I’d like to, you know, maybe pay myself again someday.

Okay, it’s not quite as dire as all that…early indications are that my good and kind customer base are all ready to throw their comic dollars at me to keep me around, which is nice. And I’m keeping a close eye on orders, making sure things are cut down enough to not overwhelm me with costs, but not so much that I don’t have anything to sell. It’s a tricky line to straddle, but it’s gotta be done.

I mean, with any luck, like Diamond’s promotion for their return says, my comeback will be bigger than my setback, but it’ll take a while to get there. Like I said when all this started, I think for me, personally, Diamond ceasing distribution for a brief period was the wise choice, as it didn’t stick me with weeks and weeks of full orders I wouldn’t be able to move and fulls invoices I wouldn’t be able to pay. But I know that likely stuck stores that were still able to remain open with vastly reduced incomes while having to make rent and payroll and pay utilities, etc. Not sure Diamond had a whole lot of options, and I’m sure none of the options they did have would have made everyone happy.

As far as I can tell at this point, my business will be able to make it through this, which is very lucky for me. A lot of other comic shops, and just businesses in general, won’t, and it’s just a damn shame things had to get this bad.

A few years ago we could’ve called it the “Curbside New 52 Pickup.”

§ May 8th, 2020 § Filed under retailing, sterling silver comics § 2 Comments

So the big news is that California is entering “Phase 2” of their gradual reopening of the state, allowing certain low-risk businesses to partially reopen, so long as they follow certain restrictions and guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

What this means is that I can now offer curbside service to customers, allowing them to drive up and pick up comics and whatnot that I can carry out to them. It’s going to be a slightly convoluted process as I juggle taking payments and handing out product, but I don’t expect it’s going to necessarily be a lot of pickup service until the new comics start coming out in force later this month. It’s good that I have an additional option outside of mail order to make money, as those new comic shipments come with new comic invoices that I’ll have to pay. But, I’ve been watching my order numbers, trying to keep things down to a dull roar, and hopefully I can ride things out ’til people are actually allowed in the shop again (which I’m sure will come with its own parade of regulations to which I’ll have to comply).

Speaking of mail order, I’m of course still doing it, shipping out to environs far and wide, and close to home to if you don’t want to venture out of the bunker to get yer funnybooks. And I recently expanded my 30 for $20 random recent-ish comic deal, announcing on Twitter my 75 for $45 offer. Yes, that’s a (slightly) better per-unit price! And again, this is for recent stuff, not, you know, 75 copies of Silver Age X-Men or whatever. I recently added a whole bunch more stock to the piles from which I’m pulling for these packages, so if you’ve ordered before, feel free to order again! Help me clear some boxes out of the back room! PayPal all your money to mike (at) sterlingsilvercomics (dot) com! (Prices include domestic shipping…offer available outside the U.S., but contact me first re: shipping.)

And I’m still slowly added comics to this Google doc, so you can least get an idea of what back issues I have. Again, this is just going through the new arrival boxes so far, and I have lots more than what’s just listed here. Feel free to send me your own want lists and I’ll check through ’em fast as I can!

Okay, sorry, this post turned into an ad, pretty much. But I am concerned about generating some income, especially with new invoices heading my way on a regular basis. Even with curbside sales, that’s still just one more barrier between me and the customer, and even the slightest obstruction between “I want to buy comics” and “I want to sell you comics” can slow sales down significantly.

Thankfully, however, my customers have been helpful and generous and staying in contact with me, and that certainly means a lot. Not just for keeping my business afloat, but for making me feel like my weird little business is still important.

Anyway, if you’re in my store’s neighborhood, drive by! Let me throw some comics through your car window!

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!

I will never get tired of referencing Cool Points…sorry Brian.

§ April 8th, 2020 § Filed under question time, sterling silver comics § 8 Comments

Okay, being quick about this because I started late and I need my beauty sleep:

I recently started throwing the store‘s back issue stock onto a publicly accessible Google sheet, which you can see at this link here: tinyurl.com/sterlingsilvercomicslist. Did it for what should be obvious reasons, plus I seem to have some extra time to work on such a thing. Anyway, I only just barely started (three boxes down, several dozen more to go!) but if you see anything on there you like, give me a call or drop me a line. Or ask me for anything else you’re looking for, I wouldn’t mind.

This is just a quick and dirty way of getting inventory in front of eyes too distant to see it all in person, which is working okay as is. But the spreadsheet format will allow me to export the data and import it into a more useful interface, I’d imagine. Something to worry about after the current crisis is under control, and I’m not in so desperate a need to move product.

Also today I was going to respond to this tweet by Twitter pal Tim:

“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)”

who inspired my post on the 3rd. Well, one, I still need to cover your responses to my second post on the matter, and two, my best example is a story I’ve told on this blog before, and I wanted to come up with more examples but brain no work good when it’s this tired, so I’ll try to save it for Friday or Monday. Anyway, 100 Cool Points to anyone who remembers what story I’m talking about.

Now I’m sure some of you have seen examples over the years of folks thinking their comics were worth far more than they were. It’s not uncommon, and you can’t really blame most people for it, especially after how many stories they’ve heard about the first Superman being a million dollars or whatever. But if you have any particularly weird or extreme examples I’d like to hear them if you’d care to drop them in the comments section. I’m sure I’ll end up discussing them in that aforementioned future post on the topic.

Okay, that’s enough, I’m hitting the sack, and also going to bed. Be back Friday!

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.

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