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Kids, ask your parents what Bloom County is.

§ July 13th, 2015 § Filed under newspaper strips, pal plugging, sterling silver comics § 2 Comments

So as it turned out, I had a pretty good weekend overall, despite my worries about losing some of my regulars to the San Diego Con. I had a good flow of customers, did some brisk business on the eBays, even managed to get a headstart on the monthly Diamond order where I’ll be ordering enough of the B.P.R.D. neon signs that you’ll be able to see my store from space. And it was a warm weekend, so praise the deity or deities of your choice that I had access to air conditioning at my shop. Wonderful, wonderful air conditioning.

Anyway, comic news: there was a Batman V. Superman trailer folks couldn’t wait to hate (I don’t know, looked interesting to me…Wonder Woman’s in there, too), a Deadpool trailer (talked about here) that apparently provided at least some evidence that a Deadpool movie actually exists, the Archies are meeting the Ramones (will the Archies meet G.G. Allin next? “G.G.! What are you doing with Hot Dog?”), there’s more Multiversity coming from Grant Morrison (inexplicably not called “Multiversitoo”), and so on…

…but I think my favorite news, not from all that San Diego hoohar, is Berke Breathed returning to Bloom County! I’ve seen a mention here or there that it’s coming back as a webcomic, though I haven’t seen an official declaration of that anywhere. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places. Seems to make sense, though…given Breathed’s famous dislike of the shrinkage of strips on the funnypages, working on the web would give him all the room he wanted. Anything that gets more Opus and Steve Dallas and Milo in my life is okay by me. Again, as I demonstrated in this post here, I’m torn between “hooray, something I loved is coming back!” and “no sir, you can’t go home again,” and…yes, new Bloom County won’t suddenly put me back in high school or Reagan back in office or Boy George back on my radio (all situations I would have mixed feelings about…well, okay, I’m all for Boy George being back on the radio) but I am looking forward to seeing what new things Breathed can bring to the table with these old favorite characters.

This reminded me that we’ll soon be seeing Academia Waltz and Other Profound Transgressions, a hardcover in the style of the complete Bloom County/Outland/Opus volumes, reprinting of Breathed’s college strip and other pre-BC work. You can see the Academia Waltz strips here, and, uh, yeah, they’re definitely…um, primordial, but it’s still an interesting look at Breathed’s early development.

Completely unrelated to any of the above, I keep forgetting to mention that I helped Bully, the Little Stuffed Spacebull, with an entry in his 365 Days of Star Wars Comics feature. He even (unknowingly!) posted it on my girlfriend’s birthday! IT’S A BULL-INCIDENCE!

After.

§ May 4th, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day, sterling silver comics § 10 Comments


Turns out I was doing a lot of worrywarting about nothing, because my first Free Comic Book Day at my new shop turned out just fine. Sales goals I wanted to reach were reached and surpassed, lots of comics were given away, and lots of people came away from my shop very happy.

We stayed at the shop ’til about 11 PM the night before getting everything set up, so there wasn’t a whole lot of prep needed Saturday morning. I arrived at the shop about an hour before opening time, and there was already the beginnings of a line waiting outside, which I took as a good sign. As soon as I did open the doors, the store filled up fairly quickly, and the first picture on the page from yesterday’s post was taken just a couple of minutes after the day began. The first couple of hours were the busiest, with the store packed full of customers, though business generally remained steady throughout the day. The one time of the day there were no customers wasn’t until in the last hour we were open, and even then that only lasted for a couple of minutes before the next wave of folks hit.

So, I’d have to say, this was a very, very successful day. I have to admit, I had a few restless nights prior, worrying about how it was going to go, but it all worked out great.

As it turned out, my actual orders on the FCBD books were just about right. I probably could have ordered more of some titles, but for the most part the titles I thought would move more slowly and ordered less on did in fact move more slowly, and the ones I ordered tons of were grabbed by everybody, which was okay because, after all, I ordered tons of them. My big fear was that I would run out of everything and just have a stack of Secret Wars #0 at the end of the day — “Um, please help yourself to our one free comic” — but at the end I still had copies of about eight or nine titles on the tables, so latecomers still had a good selection of books to carry away. I do have leftovers, which is fine…those will work as in-store giveaways or donations to libraries, and stuff like Secret Wars #0 will still be in demand from customers for a while yet.

One thing I heard a lot during the day was several people telling me this was their first visit to the shop, so that was nice. I know a thing to do is to tour several shops in an area, seeing what each was offering for the big day, so folks who hadn’t been by before had extra incentive to stop in. Most of them seemed pretty pleased with my store, which was very satisfying. Plus, I heard from a handful of folks that this was their first time at a comic shop ever, so how ’bout that?

At one point pal Nat (who as I noted the other day, was there giving away copies of graphic novels he’d written, and whom you can see in the third photo) noted how it’s been said that comics shops had a dearth of women and children as clientele…and then gestured toward the customers who were in the store at that point. Customers who were almost entirely women and children.

Stopping by the shop was old pal Mathew Digges, late of Awesome Hospital, who dropped off a little bit of that comics-making fortune he’s acquired, as well as gifting me with a print copy of The Creep Crew which he’s doing with Dylan Todd and Pete Toms:


It’s pretty great. This is the kind of thing a Big Comics Publisher would pick up if they had any sense. You can (eventually) read more about it at TheCreepCrew.com.

Um, let’s see…anything else? I did have to chase off one shirtless burnout on a bicycle rambling on and on about Hermann Hesse, of all things, who was bothering customers out in front of my shop who were trying to go through the bargain boxes I had placed there. He rode off, bravely mouthing off at me once he was across the parking lot. Eh, whatever, dude…I own a comic book store, so I win.

Oh, and yes, for those of you wondering: the local high school was having its prom that same day, thus explaining where those nattily-dressed youngsters in the last photo came from.

I also had my worries about customer flow through the store, since this was a much smaller space than what I was used to, and I had to move fixtures around to make space for FCBD tables. However, people had no problem getting around, and while it was crowded, there didn’t seem to be too many traffic jams in the store. I occasionally had some long-ish lines at the register but that never appeared to interfere with in-store movement.

I do wish I had taken a little more care in noting the original positions of my fixtures, because now that I’ve moved them back, I don’t think they’re in quite the previous places they were. I mean, we’re talking maybe inches off, if even that, but that’s enough to distract me. And by “distract me,” I don’t mean “drive me completely crazy,” why would you even think that. That’s not true at all. AT ALL.

So anyway, Free Comic Book Day was a huge success for me. I think I’ll do it again next year, I guess.

Thanks to all the customers who dropped by, and thanks to my girlfriend Nora, my dad, pal Nat, and pal Dorian for helping out. I couldn’t have done it on my own. Well, maybe I could have, but then that would be a picture of me real-dead at the top of this post, instead of fake-dead.

Sure, I’ll just link to my store’s website three times in the body of the post.

§ May 1st, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day, sterling silver comics § 7 Comments

I thought I was going to have a longer-ish post about tomorrow’s Free Comic Book Day event here, but now that I’ve sat down to write it…well, it’s not like I haven’t churned out piles of words about Free Comic Book Day over the last few years.

There are a few minor differences in how FCBD is being handled at my shop versus what I was accustomed to at my previous place of employment. For example, at the old job we had a large area at the store devoted to in-store gaming, with lots of large tables. It was easy enough to rearrange the tables into Free Comic Dispensing Units through which to file the customers. The retail area of my current store is probably about the same size as that gaming area, and that has several fixtures in the way which is going to necessitate some rearranging to allow for FCBD table set-ups. I did a little measuring over the last couple of days, and I should be able to move things around to allow for FCBD traffic while still permitting access to product I’m actually trying to sell. The alternative is to set up tables outside for free comic giveaway, but then folks would be less likely to come into the shop and actually buy things, which brings me to my next point:

As has been pointed out, by me in past discussions of FCBD and by others, the comics given away on Free Comic Book Day aren’t actually free to retailers. It is a small cost per unit, but when you order a lot of units, it can add up. At my old position, I would order literally thousands of dollars in FCBD comics. I didn’t order quite as much for the new store, as I noted previously, but as a smaller store that’s still in the process of getting started, it remains a significant investment.

Putting that much money into FCBD was okay at my old job, though, because we always made our money back and then some by having in-store sales to encourage purchases. But then, that store is decades old and has a much deeper stock than I have now. It’s not as if I have nothing at the new shop…over the past few months I’ve managed to fill up the shelves with graphic novels, and I’ve expanded my back issue selection quite a bit. Plus, my expectations of what I would consider a successful business day for FCBD don’t need to be as high as they were at the old shop…my overhead is a lot lower, after all, so I’m hoping sales on the stock I do have will encourage sufficient interest to cover costs. I also intend to debut some bargain boxes at the event, so that will be some new goodies for my customers to poke through while also reducing some extra backstock I’ve already acquired.

This all sounds like I’m solely concerned with MONEY MONEY MONEY and, well, yes, I’m still getting this store off the ground, so “in the black” is going to be preferred to “in the red.” But even if I don’t break even on this, the important thing is getting these FCBD comics into the hands of customers…not just to expose people to different comics they might not have tried out before, but as a promotional tool for this shop, to let people in the area know, or at least remind them, “hey, if I need comics, I know where to go!”

Most of all, I hope Free Comic Book Day at my new store continues to be fun. It was always great to see huge crowds of people getting really excited about comics, and I’m certainly looking forward to maintaining that tradition at my new shop.

So, if you happen to be within, say, a 500 mile radius of Camarillo, CA, come by my store…say “hi” to me, to my girlfriend, to pal Dorian, to my dad, and to pal Nat (who will be giving away copies of Licensable Bear™ and The Factor graphic novels)! We’d all enjoy seeing you!

…So this post ended up being longer than I expected. It never fails!

The more I think about what they were doing with those covers, the more horrifying the weapons I imagine being crafted from them.

§ December 22nd, 2014 § Filed under retailing, sterling silver comics § 7 Comments

So I was asked to participate in one of these “know the new business” questionnaires for the county’s main newspaper, and just yesterday it was posted to its website (no idea if it’s in the print edition). It looks like it was slightly edited for space, which, in a shock twist for all of you I’m sure, I may have run off at the mouth keyboard a bit. It’s nice to get a little more local attention, and hopefully that turns into even more business heading my way.

My favorite response to my store of late was from a seven or eight-year-old boy, who took a couple passes around the interior of the shop and said the following to me, as immortalized upon my Twitter:


Excellent. My plan to bend the will of local youth to my nefarious ends continues apace.

Speaking of the Twitters, I was reminded by another fellow’s posting about having to ship, on occasion, items from our store to prisons. Blogging brother Tim noted that would make an interesting topic of discussion right here on Progressive Ruin Dot Com if I hadn’t discussed it before. I don’t believe I have, but to be frank, there’s not a whole lot to say about it, “he said before expounding upon the subject for several paragraphs.”

There may have been others, but there are two customers to whom I remember shipping items. One was a incarcerated fellow who, via a relative who’d come into the store, asked for a new Diamond Previews every few months or so. The only real requirement I recall was that the package feature a store shipping label of some kind on the outside.

The other, the one referenced in my Twitter posting, was a person who wanted Dungeons & Dragons gaming books. Like for the previous prisoner, a store shipping label was required on the package. However, in addition to that, I was told I needed to mark the outside of the package “HOW TO PLAY BOOKS,” which I thought was an odd way to phrase that, but maybe “GAME BOOKS” wasn’t descriptive or specific enough. Now, it’s been a while, but I believe another requirement was that only paper could be used for packing material. I don’t know if a specific type of paper was required, or forbidden…like, I could only use plain brown paper versus newspaper, but I’m pretty sure it was “paper,” versus, say, styrofoam peanuts, which I wouldn’t blame them for refusing because oy, what a mess.

One thing I do remember being told by the person arranging for this transaction in-store was that the hardcover D&D books would have those covers stripped off by the staff receiving and inspecting these packages. Apparently they didn’t want anyone with ill intent getting their hands on these bookcovers and…well, I wasn’t 100% sure what they’d do with them, honestly. I suppose they could theoretically be made into weapons. I wouldn’t one of these covers jabbed hard into my neck or any other softer bits edgewise…it probably wouldn’t kill you, but it would probably make you not want to do anything other than kinda lay down for a bit and try to not move. Anyway, I didn’t ask, and now I’m stuck relying on my imagination, picturing Sing Sing in flames, rioting prisoners armed with shanks carved from copies of Monster Manual II. But the reality is more likely dudes kinda bummed that the books had to be ripped apart, but figuring that was a small price to pay for some healthy distraction in an unhappy place.

I’ve only had limited experience with shipping to prisons, so those are my two examples of the processes I had to follow. Anyone in a retail position who’s had to do something similar, I’d be interested to hear about it.

“Established 2014” reads the sign that I may someday get to display.

§ December 15th, 2014 § Filed under retailing, sterling silver comics § 7 Comments

So one of my behaviors that I’ve noticed since opening the new store is that I am, just slightly, a little bit defensive. Hopefully not obnoxiously so, but every once in a while someone new will pop in the door and say something like “oh, hey, a new comic book store! When did you open?” and I’ll respond with “just a little over a month ago butI’vebeendoingthisalongtime Iusedtomanageanotherstoreforyearsandyears butIownthisoneIknowwhatI’mdoingIswear” and that hasn’t frightened anybody off yet but I suppose it’s only a matter of time.

I think it’s a reaction to no longer having the history of my previous place of employment backing me up. I used to be all “yeah, we’ve been around a while…thirty-five years a while” and then leaning back, smiling with arms crossed, as I bathed in the awe and amazement. Okay, I wasn’t that smug about it well maybe a little but I liked being able to reassure customers that this wasn’t some fly-by-night shop and that I wasn’t some schmuck who didn’t know his job…we’d been at it for some time, we’ve got it down, don’t worry, friend.

My current circumstances require me to pretty much start again, to rebuild my reputation as a comic book guy who’s got it together, and so far I’d like to think I’ve impressed upon the newer members of my clientele that I do in fact know what I’m doing. This article in the city paper did help quite a bit in letting interested parties know my history in the business, and this page on my store’s site did the same. In fact, I was starting the “butI’vebeendoingthisawhile” info dump for one customer who pretty much stopped me with “yeah, I know, I saw the webpage!”

Now, the customers I have now who did know me from my previous funnybook-retailing life…I can only assume that they’re used to my particular quirks and, well, “better the devil you know” and all that. …Okay, I’m just joshin’ a little. I do appreciate their loyalty to me, and frankly, I’m touched that they came with me or, at least, are splitting some of their comic-buying business with me. (And for those of you who are curious…that wasn’t an unexpected result of my leaving, and things are still okay between me and my old shop. Read my reply to Roel here for details.)

I’m about a month and a week into this new life of mine, and thus far everything seems to be going great. I’m doing good business, I’m meeting new customers, and it’s beginning to feel a lot less like “I hope people will eventually come into this big box where I’m storing comics on shelves and in boxes, and also I’m so lonely” and more like “hey, I’m running a comic book store, look at all these people who want comics.”

I’ve also gone from “I hope I’m not making a huge mistake” to “why did I wait so long?”

Thank goodness.

So far, so good.

§ November 10th, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 2 Comments

Well, I have to say, while I’m not being swamped (heh) with customers by any means, I am doing some business, and so far I’ve been exceeding my initial expectations for the shop. I’ve been seeing several old customers of mine, greeting some new ones, signing folks up for the comic saver program, and only occasionally having to lock the door and put up the “Back in a minute!” sign so that I may attend the Gentleman’s Library, because, you know, flying solo at the shop and all that.

But seriously, thanks to everyone who came by the shop, everyone who supported me online, and everyone who helped get the word out…it’s all greatly appreciated. And thanks to my dad, who’s been helping out and keeping me company at the shop over the last few days.

And a big thanks to BobH for this beautiful thing:

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Excellent.

On an almost unrelated note, I see someone took one of my scans from the “Marvel 2093” promo and colorized it. Looks kind of neat, I think.

I say it’s “almost unrelated” if only because now that I’m now at my new shop, I don’t have the easy access to 30+ years of promo material that I had back at the previous place of employment. So, I suppose don’t expect a whole lot more of that on my site in the near future, unless I still have a box of that stuff sitting around the house that I haven’t returned to Ralph yet. Or, heck, who knows what will show up in collections? People are already bringing me comics to sell, so I’m sure the occasional oddity will shop up now and again.

And on another somewhat related-maybe note, I should be back to what passes for a normal schedule on this site again, now that the pressure to get the store ready to open has eased up a bit…at the very least, barring emergencies, I shouldn’t be staying at the store ’til 5 in the morning any more. Could this mean…a slightly-belated End of Civilization post? I’ll see what I can do.

Again, thanks for your support, friends. It is much appreciated.

Day One.

§ November 6th, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 28 Comments

And lo, did my first day of business at Sterling Silver Comics come to pass, and things went fairly well. For what was basically a “soft” opening, without all that “BIG GRAND OPENING” hoohar that will likely come later in the month, I did have several customers throughout the day, with one or two dead times that more or less corresponded to the doldrums I would have at the old shop at about the same points in the day, so no big whoop. Overall, I did manage to meet some new folks, welcome some customers from my previous job, and make a little more money than I was expecting for my first day. Hooray, I’m marginally less in debt!

A big thanks to pal Nat, who was my store’s very first customer…well, walk-in customer into my physical store, as opposed to my eBay sales (which I also appreciate, if any of you eBayers are reading this right now). Thanks also to pal Cathy, who sent me a box of candy in celebration of the big day. And of course, thanks to everyone else who shopped with me on my opening day, and to all of you out there with your kind words of support. Maybe I can make a go at this after all.

Now, there is still plenty to be done at the shop…a few more fixtures need to be installed, I definitely need to price more comics, I would like more toys and games in the store…but these things will happen soon enough.

Here’s a quick look around the shop, starting with the thing I was looking forward to the most – GIGANTORACK:

gigantorack
36 feet of The-Monolith-from-2001-esque ebony shelving, custom-built to my specifications, crammed full of issues of Swamp Thing and other less-important comics. …Well, okay, for opening day, it was only 32 feet, as there were some minor technical difficulties preventing the last four feet from being installed, resulting in some clever t-shirt rack placement to disguise the shortage:

sscstorea
Anyway, as I write this, I am sitting in my store right now while the master craftsmen put the finishing touches on the new comics shelves, including that final four feet of four-color fun. Beginning today visitors to my shop should be able to witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational comic rack.

Now here’s a shot from one of the back corners of the store, from behind the register/work station counter…you can see the corner of my stack of Previews at the bottom, there:

sscstorec
You get another shot of GIGANTORACK, plus two custom-made wooden tables built for me by former boss Ralph of Ralph’s Comic Corner. These are smaller versions of the same tables Ralph built for his shop years ago, and these things are rock-solid monsters of shelving — well, little monsters, in my case — that bear up the weight of fully-loaded comic boxes quite well. Above GIGANTORACK you can see some of the framed comic covers that my girlfriend Nora printed out and framed for decoration. She did a great job. (Yes, the covers include Swamp Thing and Nancy & Sluggo comics. How could they not?)

Another shot from behind my register counter, facing toward the front window:

sscstored

Please note the organically-grown cruelty-free custom stand for my register (AKA “scrap wood left over from making those tables”), as well as my Stool of Power and a computer displaying a wallpaper image that should surprise nobody.

In this next pic from the front corner of my shop:

sscstoreb
…you see a couple of my merchandise/showcase fixtures, along with my spinner rack containing a plethora of all-ages comics. You also get a good shot of my bookshelves, and their spacing along that wall should allow for some expansion. One top of one of those shelves is a Superman The Animated Series bust that I bought several years ago for five bucks and have now finally found a use for.

Here’s a straight-on shot of three of my bookshelves:

sscstorex
…and I hope you enjoyed this brief look at my shop as it stands now. As I said before, it’s a work in progress, with lots more comics and fixtures and goodies to come. But most importantly, this is a much-needed change in my life, a new beginning in an industry that, despite everything, I still love and enjoy, and this has given me a new enthusiasm for this business that I’ve been sort of taking for granted for years. Here’s to fresh starts and moving forward, my friends!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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So it’s about 4:30 AM as I write this…

§ November 5th, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 7 Comments

…having just come home from the shop after spending long hours prepping it for opening at 11 AM today. Thus, should you happen to stop by to purchase something, just gently tuck the bills into my pocket and try not to wake me.

Anyway, let’s see how this goes!

Sterling Silver Comics is opening this Wednesday, November 5th, at 11 AM.

§ November 3rd, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 9 Comments

That is all.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.

§ October 30th, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 6 Comments

So reader Allan said in response to Monday’s post “hey, how ’bout a link to your comic shop’s website in your sidebar or somethin’, dummy,” which, okay, he was too nice to say it like that, but I would have completely deserved it, especially since it’s how I felt after I read his comment because Allan is totally 100% correct. And thus, there it is, glaring at you from the right side of my website, that very link, gazing into your very soul, overwhelming you, yes, you with guilt that you haven’t bought that Walking Dead #1 from my eBay listings yet.

Also, my storefront sign was installed Tuesday morning…in fact, it was installed before I showed up that morning, and I’d walked in and out the front of the store two or three times before I even bothered to look up and see it was there! But here it is, in all its glory:


That’s a photo I look late Wednesday afternoon. Tuesday I took a picture for Facebook as soon as I realized its presence, but it was close to noon at that point, with the sun shining behind it thusly:


GOD APPROVES OF STERLING SILVER COMICS

Anyway, I still really like that logo. Everyone thank Benjamin Birdie for his great job on it.

Speaking of the Facebook, my Aunt Dee even reviewed my store there, though I’m not sure this counts as a review. Nonetheless, I believe it to be entirely objective and unbiased. No problems with ethics in comics journalism here!

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