• Projections 2/22/2017
    We are trucking right along. It's Howdy Doody Time. If you don't know anything about Howdy Doody Time don't worry it is old. It started back on the airwaves in 1947. It is hard to believe that back in the 1940s immigrants could come from overseas and with just a little bit of money they could start up businesses. Truely small businesses. Grocery stores through out a city all owned by different people. Gas stations owned by different people. Restaurants all owned by different people. Not owned by corporations but people that lived in the same area they did business in. Things of course were a lot different back then. Less expenses. Less regulations. Less big name chains. It was a lot more common for a business to be owned by a local person. Things change. Small businesses at times became big businesses. Such as Casey's. It is hard to believe there used to be only one. Present day  the internet became popular to buy off of. Amazon started off selling just books and with in years grew to put it mildly. Big businesses often times have deep pockets. Small businesses usually don't. Though in this day and age there are people that somehow expect that a small local business should be like a chain store. That happens a lot.  Some weird flawed logic that since I opened a store I must be a millionaire? Or I should get a loan for millions and spend the rest of my life trying to pay it back? I don't understand it. Though granted I have been around businesses before and have understood that businesses need to make money. In this day and age it  seems it is almost set up for a person to open up their own small business to fail. Gone are the days a person could walk off a boat into a new country and open up their own business with ease. Or much easier than now. My grandfather had a tavern called the 6 and 1 here in Ankeny many years ago. He wasn't rich but he opened it. It only closed because the landlord wanted something besides a bar on the property. 80 percent of small business fail in their first two years. As  I have stated before we beat the odds. Six years and counting. That said there are a lot of things I wish were different for small businesses. The wealth gap is so wide. By that I mean if big chains stores decided to go big and stock and promote comics what could a small comic store do to survive? Millions of dollars vs thousands? Some lines I have dropped once a big chain got into it. Such as Cards Against Humanity. It was popular. It sold here in store. But now Target carries it. And at a cheaper price than I can sell it. I could keep selling Cards Against Humanity and have it sell less than it did before Target carried it. Though I would also have people complain that we would be more expensive than Target. Like somehow I would get the same pricing as Target gets. I wish. So maybe once in a blue moon we will have Cards Against Humanity but not nearly as well stocked as we did in the past.

    Am I trying to whine? Am I feeling entitled? No, just trying to say how it is. The old I sell fantasy but have to deal in reality.

    The past has a lot of memories. A lot of what if this would have happend instead of this? If I had a time machine and traveled back in time over six years ago before I opened what would I tell my younger self about opening up Rodman Comics?

    Don't do it! Dear god in heaven don't do it! What are you thinking? Are you denser than adamantium? Run away!

    I mean I would say be patience. Don't have free gaming. No really don't have free gaming. 90 percent of the people that hang out for free will never even appreciate it. I would follow that statement up with a punch to my younger self's face and say "That's so you remember not to have free gaming because once you do it will feel worse than a punch to the face. It will feel like a kick below the belt."

    When you sign the lease at the store make sure to get everything in writing. It is one of the first things you will learn in business. Everything that was only verbally agreed on to fix will not get fixed.

    You will learn what a lot of people say and what they actually do are two different things.

    When you finally get the carpet ripped out of the bathroom and have the floor replaced do not let the company you rent from handle replacing it. They will have it replaced so poorly that you will wish you had kept the old ruined carpet. The glue used to to put the flooring in will rise up through the squares every time you go to clean the floor in the bathroom making it look even worse. You will end up having to replace the floor yet again. But this time you will be smart enough to ask for a credit from the property owners and take care of hiring someone yourself to replace the floor.

    Your back issue wall will one day become the Harley Quinn wall basically. It will feel odd at first but it works.

    The mantra you come up with. The line of "running a business is a marathon and not a sprint". You prove yourself right.

    When you are new there will be people who will expect you to not make it. In your first year of being open one of the customer's sons will tell you that their dad told him not to become to attached to the store because it might close. It will sting a bit but since most new business never make it past two years it is understandable.

    You will do some good. Help some people out. Donate to schools. And more.

    Writing your weekly Projections column you will learn a lot. Your get better at it also. It will change. You will drop the trivia. Maybe for a throw back issue you could have it return? Or would that cause a space time conflict? Scratch that.  I will do one in the future. You will write a lot about how Marvel will be going for short term sales for years. About how their re launches are slowly hurting the business. Then come 2016 you will be stunned how far Marvel sales has fallen. Marvel sales will match your first year sales which is something I am still amazed by.

    Younger self "What about the don't have free gaming? Wouldn't that cause a space time conflict since you did have it?" Don't make me punch you again. Any damage to space time will be worth it not to have to go through that. Besides it worked in Back to the Future.

    Sell things on the internet. The whole original idea of making sure everything possible could be on hand in store for in store customers was nice and all but being nice doesn't pay the bills. The Magic card that is worth $100 at the time? Sell it online. Get the $100. Don't leave it in the glass case so it is only available to in store customers and just sits there. The Magic players will not be buying expensive cards out of the case. After so many people tell you they can get what you are selling online you final learn you can just sell it online and get quick money. That the opposite holds true for you. You can just sell it online.

    Oh, your goal of only working two full time jobs for two years..... um.....  hmmmm moving on.

    Well let's just say you might work two jobs past two years. Younger self "WHAT? Two years was the goal and then I go to one job!"  I know. It's not because the store isn't making money. Younger self "Then why in the heck would I still keep working two jobs?" Long story but focus. When you tell your wife that even though you thought you were going to quit your day job but have been talked into staying make sure you take her out to eat. Young self "What?"  Long story. The most angry she will ever be with you is when you tell her this. I am still not sure if I embarrassed myself needlessly at the restaurant or if that is why I am still alive. Young self "What?" Telling her in a public place may have saved my life.

    That military recruitment center that is there when you open located a few doors down will end up leaving. It will be replaced by another business where mostly men go to. When you see wet clothes that looks like they are from the 1960s hanging off the dumpster do not throw them away. The wet clothes hanging on the dumpster is something you will see for years. Then one day a dumpster without rails will be put in and there will be no more drying of clothes off the dumpster. Younger self "Does the laundry mat right next to the strip mall leave or something?" Nope. Younger self  "What is this other business that mostly men go to?"  You don't want to know.

    Here is a book  of people to avoid that you will get to know through the store. Younger self "The book is bigger than a dictionary!" Yes, sadly there will be a lot of people that try to take advantage of you. Some will even steal from you.

    Oh in the year 2016 when you go to the Gamma Trade show in Vegas do not eat at this restuarant. Younger self "Why?"  You get food poisoning and since it happens during spring break and Saint Patty's day people think you just went out drinking to much.

    Younger self "What?" Stop saying what so much. My goodness I can't believe I was such a young, naive, wimp. Younger self "And I can't believe I become such an old cynical fart." Point taken.

    Younger self. "Is opening up Rodman Comics worth it?"  Long pause. At times it will not seem like it. At times you will wish you hadn't. There will be a day after the first month you open when you are alone in the store and you have went over the first month's paper work and you will seen how much was made in sales. It will be low. You will be thankful you did not order more despite Diamond wanting you to. You still over ordered. You will know the store will bleed money at that level of sales. You will look around the store. Wonder what have you done. You will wonder how far will you go. How much are you willing to lose. You decide that whatever there is to lose is on you and you alone. There will be no dragging down your wife on what you decided to do. It will be painful. But you make it work with what you have. You will have a heck of a learning curve. Though you do learn. You learn to be a better business owner.  Some would even say a good business owner. You will change over the years. And it will be worth it.

    Hope to talk to you again in six more years.

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