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Projections – 4/20/16

Rod Deals on April 16th was a hit! Next major event will be May 7th. Free Comic Book Day.
Rod Deals was such a hit with everyone we will be doing it again come June 11th. Why not next month? Because next month’s big event is Free Comic Book Day. I did forget to have the dice rolling and trivia questions for this one. Preparing the auctions took up a lot more time than I had thought it would.  At first I thought this month’s Rod Deal’s might not be a hit. At the last one I had people showing up even before we opened. This time there was just a few people when we opened. Then as time went on more and more people made it in. Aaron and me will be back for more fun on June 11th.
Did receive an email saying that we will be receiving more gaming products thanks to me going to the GAMMA Trade show this year. Which is great. Part of the reason I went. They make a point of telling us we will receive a box of samples for attending. Samples of various games to see if there is  demand for them. Was a little less than thrilled when the email sent to me said I had not meant all the requirements this year to receive the gaming products. It was the second year in a row that I have went. I meant the requirements no problem the first time. This time I did actually know what I was doing. Though GAMMA also switched to having people scan people’s ID cards when attending the various functions. The drawback to this is I have no idea if the scan or scans actually “take”. In the email it also said the change to scanning could have been at fault. I know Tuesdays lunch ran a half hour later delaying all the meetings that day also. I did email back stating I had indeed attended everything required. Apparently the sender of the email doesn’t know what a blind carbon copy is either. There were 135 other people that went to the show that got the same email I did.  The previous years show went smoother than this years.  Wasn’t trying to be mean but I sure the heck am a little  less likely to go next years show now.
And of course after I type that up the Gamma shipment of gaming products arrive. Lots of stuff. Wide range of material.  Pathfinder games and Dice Masters to even Poop the game. I kid you not.  Of course it shows up right after we had our last Rod Deal’s. Our backroom has a ton of material as we get ready for Free Comic Book Day.
Civil War movie Heroclixs and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Heroclixs arrived last week. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are very popular. Civil War movie Heroclixs not so much. As my employee and others have pointed out there have been plenty of versions of the Avengers as Heroclixs. Civil Wars just adds mostly to already made characters as heroclixs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles as Heroclixs are completely new to the game.
This year’s Civil War Heroclix event being so close to the release of the Civil War movie Heroclixs will most likely damper excitement for the event. Again more Avenger pieces are not going to light the world on fire. Plus the whole pick a side for this year’s event I don’t think is going to go over well.
Transformers, GI Joe, Star Wars, as Heroclixs?  I hope to see it happen.
Been doing this for over five years. Proud of that. Most businesses close in two years. As a comic collector or gamer many people daydream about one day owning their own comic and/or game store.
Some wonder why anyone would get out of the business. Or how people become burned out in the business. Become like the stereotypical Comic Book Guy on Simpsons.
For me I would say it is most likely what the average person deals with. Other people. Some are good some not so good to deal with.
I was a much more polite and naive person when I first opened. Then reality crashed in. The fact is odds are if you let people take advantage of you there will be people who do.
I have had employees steal from the store. I have had shoplifters who seem to have no shame when caught. Like it is alright to steal.
Some gamers who stayed after gaming events trying to see if I was foolish enough to give away more prizes with out them paying more. Meaning trying to get something for nothing.
Lots of different people. Like that shoplifter I brought up in a past Projection a few months ago who was caught and came back months later wanting a table so him and his friend could play games. No apology or anything.
A person came in here telling me a loved one of his had a mysterious illness and he had made a mistake by switching to cheaper insurance. He needed to sell some of his collection to pay for medical costs. Just one problem. The person came in a month before telling me how he went to another store and scammed them into buying part of his collection with the same story. I thought the puzzled look on my face due to that fact of me thinking you just told me this whole story that you used at another store to scam them into buying from you would have tip him off that I remember the whole previous discussion. Why did I remember it? First the person was very proud of what they did. Proud of the fake tears they even had going. That they managed to pull it off. Plus saying it wasn’t the only time. And second the look of disbelief on my face after the story was told the first time. The look on my face tipped the person off the first time because then I was told “I would never do that to you.” But a month later that was what was going on. Obviously not a desirable customer.
People call up to the store and say something like do you have the first set of Marvel Universe cards from the 1990s? If you get them can you give me a call? Usually I say I will see what I can do. Basically ask people that I know if they have the set and would like to get maybe store credit for the cards. Then roughly an hour later someone comes in with a full set of the Marvel Universe cards. Wow, what are the odds? Pretty darn slim sadly. Someone comes up with an idea to call and ask for a product we don’t have and then has someone else or maybe even themself come up to see if we would give them money for the Marvel Universe cards or whatever item they hope to sell off.  It is part of the reason I am not  keen on buying or trading for material. Another reason is I have no idea if it really is the person’s material to begin with. It might be stolen property.  I do not want to deal in stolen property. Hard to believe right?
Now if I know the person, such as they are a regular customer than I am more likely to trade or buy from them.
I had a person walk in barefoot once. Their foot was bleeding. Bleed on the floor and mat. Ended up buying a new mat. Walking across the parking lot barefoot seemed odd.
Learning that an  adult lied about the value of what they had and made trades with a kid.  Meaning the person talked the kid into bad trades while telling them what they were trading was worth more than it actually was.  I mean seriously taking advantage of a kid? I usually always listen in and monitor all the customers or people  in the store the best I can but sometimes distractions happen.  Car accident in the parking lot (happens more than one would think), large group of people come in, answering phone questions, ect., ect.
Or an adult who plays against a kid and the kid afterwards was afraid he was going to get punched over the game. What adult is so competitive  that they have to win over a kid that they scare a kid over it?
One year I had a person call  representing an organization wanting to know if for the store’s anniversary if they could show up and promote their organization. I said no. And not one person from the organization showed up for the anniversary. I joked to a customer and said he should invite me over for his birthday and I would just hype the store.
A lady who came in wanting a job and kept leaning further and further forward trying to show as much cleavage as possible trying to get me to change my no answer. It was awkward because there was customer in the store looking at us. I thought he was judging me. I  remember thinking what dude? I am telling her flat out no. Not leading her on or anything. After she left the customer told me “no, man I was checking her out”.  Which I will admit I found funny.
The pre release when I thought a drunk came in at two in the morning. Never seen him before. His friends or whoever dropped him off here for some reason. Came to find out he wasn’t drunk but stoned. He thought Rodman Comics was “Glorious!”. He said it around ten times. Had trouble standing. And he told me he was stoned.
And online. Wow, people do say anything. Borrowed this from another out of state gameshops column. One common recommendation proposed by online purchasers to alleviate the travails of the brick and mortar store is to give customers the deep discounts they want while moving to more of an event center or club model, wherein the store provides table space and terrain and other accoutrements and in return the players pay a fee for use of the space. I noticed one poster who said he (or she) would “be happy to give the store a buck or two” as a thank you for using the space.  Full article here
 http://icv2.com/articles/reviews/view/34184/rolling-initiative-darn-antiquated-business-model-anyway Yeah, that buck or two for hanging out for hours will really put a store over the top. Five or six dollars a person to hang out for hours here isn’t worth my time. Again why let people hang out when I can sell one item easier and be more effective. The inter net of course can be a never ending source of unique ideas.
Lots of stories I can not type up sadly.
So yes owning my own business has changed me. Heck, I had to change. If I didn’t Rodman Comics wouldn’t be here. More guarded. Less naive. More experienced as a business owner.
It’s not all fun. It can be exciting. And as each one of you have at your jobs. There are good days and there are bad days. So far I have been very lucky that the good days far outnumber the bad days. And the fact that I have learned more and grown as a business owner and become a better business owner than I was when I first opened helps.
Owning the store is work. As it should be. I have been to many game stores and comic stores where whoever is behind the counter or the only person responsible for the store is either playing a video game or playing some sort of a game. Granted I have been known to play games with the customers but there should be an employee here. If an odd amount of players show for this Saturday’s Uncanny X Men pre release heroclix event then odds are I will play so no one has to take a buy and wait for everyone else to finish a round. Though again there will be an employee on hand  to take care of business if I play. I am always amazed at the stores where it seems the person working there is more interested in the video game or whatever game they are playing than possible actual paying customers.  These are the kind of people that make owning a gaming store or comic store look  easy. There is a ton of stuff to do here at the store. From simple things like cleaning to really import things like selling. Even when we are not physically at the store we can be working for the store. From updating the website, getting supplies, ordering product, calling people to pick up the material they ordered, we can keep busy.
I need to have another organizational party. Back in November when I had the pipe break I had to move material from the back room to the front as quickly as possible and then after the floor dried put everything back. I left the backroom quite the mess. Five months later I still haven’t organized it so I can at least find everything in the back.  With the rest of April and May so busy I hope come June to have the next organizational party.
Right now we are getting ready for Free Comic Book Day. All those comics get to be stamped with the Rodman Comics logo. Fun, fun. I will be coming in early on Saturday the 7th before the private showing of Captain America Civil War to get everything finalized. I will actually be hoping for a small group of people playing Magic Friday Night so I can get a lot done and save me as much time as possible come Saturday morning.
I am not just sitting around waiting for people to come in. Even if I am at the computer odds are I am updating the website or updating Facebook or answering emails. Or even typing up the latest issue of Projections. Or reading about comics on the computer.
I do burn myself out at times. When sales are slow I tend to push more to bring them back up. When sales are great I tend to push more to try to maximize the most sales possible. Apparently if things are going just okay then I relax a bit.
Why do I put in so many hours for the store? It’s one of the variables I can control. Staying late Tuesday to get ready for new comics Wednesdays. People have suggested having just one section for new comics as other stores do to save  time getting ready for new comic Wednesdays. It would save time but the reason the new comics are spread in with the non new comics is so people have a better chance of actually seeing all the comics offered. Say an Ant Man fan comes in to pick up the newest Ant Man issue. Then he sees She Hulk guest staring in Avengers that came out two weeks earlier. Unknown to me he is a big She Hulk fan also. He sees the Avengers issue and picks it up also. If that Ant Man was in its own new comics section then odds are the person would never have noticed the two week old Avengers. A new comics section makes it seem that the newest comics are the most important. When I shopped elsewhere people would stop in just go to the store’s new comic section and never go to the older comics section and leave. Plus the new comics section was usually crowded.  I really didn’t like reaching around people to pick up a comic.
I also believe that pull boxes are a mistake. It helps eliminate the collector’s desire to pick up a comic. It’s like a layaway. The comics they want are on hold but they still need to be bought. In a lot of people’s mind those comics on hold are theirs even though the haven’t paid for them.  Which in reality those comics are still the stores since the store paid for them. Instead of making the time to pick up comics a person wants before they may sell out the priority becomes oh well they are on hold I can get them any time. Then after weeks and at times months of waiting the pull box scares the person because now that $25 a week in comics has ballooned to hundreds of dollars in comics.
When I was young there were no pull box services. It was pretty simple. If I wanted a comic I better get there as soon as possible if I didn’t want to take the chance it might be sold out. With pull box services that helps kill that idea.
So why have pull boxes? Because everyone else does. If one store doesn’t then people will go elsewhere. Part of the race to the bottom.
Every store has problems with their pull boxes. It’s looked at as a necessary evil. Does that mean everyone with a pull box is evil? No there are quite a few that are responsible with their pull boxes. It’s just the ones that aren’t cost stores money.
That is another store responsibility. Getting people that have fallen behind contacted and seeing if they are going take care of their pull box. And some people get mad after leaving comics in their pull box for months that I actually sold them. I get to explain that the comics are not theirs till the actually pay for them. They are the store’s since they were bought by the store and never were purchased. The rules of the pull box are simple. Stop in at least once a month. That is only twelve times a year. Having comics on hold for months and not responding to requests to let us know if the person is still hoping to buy them or not means we need to try to sell them. All it takes is a hand full of people holding comics for months and leaving us in limbo to add up to hundreds of dollars worth of comics just hanging out in pull boxes. Product that the store has paid for meaning the pull box with comics has become lost money. So yes after two months it is time for us to try to sell what we can. People ordering material and sticking us with it is just rude.
That said we deal with plenty of good people. And we deal with a lot of people. So many I am not going to try to type everyone’s name. The store has really grown over the years. Heck the pull boxes I recently counted and there were over twenty more customers with pull boxes than I thought there were. Though I think we may try to have a probation period for new pull customers. Maybe have a come in and get your comics often enough with out a pull box to get the new person in the habit of coming in. Another oddity is new people who bring up and want a pull box often start one and then never come in again and don’t return calls.
Again plenty of great customers. Plenty of responsible customers. The whole reason I keep Rodman Comics open. I even have people asking when the next organizational party will be. Meaning people that want to help the store. Which is pretty cool of them. Currently with so much going on it my be a while longer till we have an organizational party.
The future is looking bright indeed. DC is making 141 of their rebirth titles returnable. Come on Marvel one up that. Rebirth 1 itself will not be returnable. But it is 80 pages for $2.99. And it has people talking. Excited.  It reminds me of the lead up to the new 52 all those years ago. I am hoping DC can match that success or even top it. Heck, I am so pumped I just purchased the Ivan Reis Previews cover that has the three hourglasses with the heroes either trapped or bursting out. Hopefully I can hang it up and display it at the store.
Trying to get something together to help celebrate Rebirth which starts the last week of next month already. We can start selling that week’s DC and Marvel Comics on Tuesday May the 24th. Haven’t received much for details. Such as does that mean the shipment will get here Monday? And the other publishers such as Image and Boom we have to wait to Wednesday to sell?
Exciting times.
May 7th Free Comic Book Day is coming…..