Was surprised that after not re posting the links to buy our newest Rodman Comics variant that night people bought it up. It is good to wake up in the morning and see material sell off our online market place during the night.
Dang winter really hit. It is cold.
Now I have went from reading about comic stores closing to gaming stores closing. I did wonder about it. Magic was red hot for awhile. But as a lot of things do it cooled off. Plus Magic over the years has more outlets than ever before. Also it became more expensive to carry. The whole 5 percent increase but we don't want you to pass on the cost to the customers. Which made selling comics even more profitable. People think when they buy a box of Magic boosters for $104.99 from us that we are making a ton of money. When I sell a $104.99 in comics I make more money. So of course my focus is selling what makes me more money. Also as I have harped about there was way to much Magic product released in to short of a time.
I admit I still feel guilty when reading about store closings. Survivor's guilt. For all the grief I get about the store not being bigger it is what has help insure that Rodman Comics is still around. In a lot of people's mind size does matter. They might only be buying one comic or one Magic pack no matter how big the store is but the place they are buying from needs to be bigger in their mind for some reason.
The people that want a bigger store are not the ones that will support a bigger store I have learned. I learned the customer is not always right.
As a store owner one of the things I needed to learn is people are all different. My mind set was what would I like to see in a store? I shopped at Dragonfire Comics for over a decade because even if they didn't have it they would order for me. Jeff was good with customers. Size of the store didn't matter to me. I was getting everything I wanted to buy and talking to an actual person. I was good. I wasn't going to write an online review that I wanted a bigger store.
As they say though things change. The internet made shopping on line much easier. Human interaction much less. I had one former employee when I walked in and I asked her did you say hello to the person and tell him if he needed help to let you know? I said hi was the reply. If he needs anything he can just ask she told me. I said so you didn't ask? No, he can let me know. I asked the person myself if he needed any help. He was here to pick up his pull box. The only two things I tell all my employees to say whenever someone comes in is to greet them and let them know if they need help with anything to let them know. To me that is pretty easy. But a lot of people don't want to do that. She doesn't work here anymore. On the flip side there are a lot people as customers that don't want to have any human interaction now. Fast food kiosks are gaining in popularity. Self check outs in chain stores are growing. Less personal interaction seems to be the direction people are moving in.
I don't want kiosks or self service with no human interaction at Rodman Comics. Though as I have stated before I might be a business dinosaur.
My goal is for everyone to be greeted when they walk into Rodman Comics and told if they need help to let whoever is working at the store know we will help them. It is what I wanted when I went comic shopping.
Best comic news for 2017 so far? Geoff Johns will be writing a Watchmen series? Some people are saying it is another DC series. If not I so never thought he would be writing the Watchmen. The Before Watchmen limited series were odd to say the least. Hopefully Geoff can make new Watchmen material in demand. Now if they would announce he is writing a JSA series that would be aces.
Marvel announced for this month they will ship 10 percent extra to all comic retail stores. Meaning we get almost free extras. Minus the shipping. I find this better than the almost at times doubling our orders on titles such as they did with Gamora and Guardians of the Galaxy. Though the extras are free I have ordered comics for years. I am not that far off when ordering. The variants and other factors do make it challenging at times but if I was off by over ten copies of Gamora and Guardians of the Galaxy after years of doing this then I would be a pretty bad store owner. Odds of me being off 10 percent is much more realistic than 50 percent or more.
This also helps Marvel look better. Oddly enough though we the stores didn't order the extra copies in the first place the 10 percent figures into Diamond's unit share. So basically Marvel's unit share will go up 10 percent even though that 10 percent was never ordered. Yes, the comic business makes no sense.
Marvel, I as a comic store owner need you as a publishing company to get people into purchasing more of your titles. This round of Marvel "Now" (not to be confused with the previous Marvel "Now") has been quite the surprise. And not in a good way. Marvel seems stuck in their phase of their version of "DC You". DC You was reported by other stores as not a success. Marvel has been been in a slump here at the store for awhile now. A lot of their new titles have not been a hit with our readership. Foolkiller, Slapstick, Solo, and more sold terrible. Marvel seems to think we the retailers did not order enough of past issues or something? I have copies of Mockingbird, Nighthawk, Hyperion, Ultimates, and more just sitting in our readership bin for 50 cents or a dollar each and still no one wants to buy them.
I keep thinking Marvel will pull a DC Rebirth. DC You was not well received. DC looked down. Though not out. DC pulled out Rebirth and remarkably DC made a complete turn around. People were excited to read DC titles.
Marvel's offerings for March did not feel me with hope. Seriously Man Thing is returning?
I keep waiting to see Marvel try to one up DC's Rebirth but I have yet to see anything that even tries from Marvel.
In past Projections I stated that long term Marvel's on average yearly re launching of their titles might be good for short term sales but it wasn't good for long term sales. DC at least waited years before re numbering with Rebirth. DC even double dipped the ever so popular "first" issue by having one shots then followed up by first issues of new ongoing series. Getting people who have to have 1st issues to pick them up twice.
At this point people have learned that Marvel does 1st issues basically yearly. This time it looked like it was a jumping off point. Invincible Iron Man for all the attention Riri received for taking over the Iron Man role the title sells very poorly. And it is only on it's second issue.
Delays has taken their toll on Marvel. Civil War II finally ended. It was so far behind that the spin off titles Infamous Iron Man and Invincible Iron Man came out before the final issue. Marvel's previous crossover Secret Wars was badly delayed and had even more titles spinning out of it that came out before Secret Wars ended.
Civil War II ended pretty weak. No one said wow that was really cool.
Marvel's standards were really low in 2016. I am not sure if the sales beating they were giving DC when DC had their DC You gave them swelled heads or what. But they really have not been raising the bar by any means.
2016 Marvel reused the previous tag line Marvel Now. They couldn't even be bothered to come up with something new. Delays once again once again hurt Marvel. I need Marvel's standards to raise on their publishing business. Variants and over shipping isn't going to bring in new customers or lapsed ones.
Marvel if you will not be the House of Ideas again then at least try to raise your standards. All those millions from the movies and no return investment into the comics they are based on?
Marvel in store sales are almost matching our first year sales. Meaning they have went backwards over the years. Amazing Spider-man still has popularity. Though it no longer is near the top in sales. Avengers after it's latest re launch is doing terrible. That last 1st issue of Avengers was a jumping off point for a lot of the readership. Avengers sales is less than a fourth of what it was pre re launch.
Am I trying to hate on Marvel? No, I need as many comic titles as possible selling as many copies as possible. I am a Avengers and Spider-man fan. Currently even giving away unsold copies of the current Avengers isn't sparking any new interest or renewed interest. That is terrible. I admit the artwork on Avengers looks like a big mess to me.
I miss the first Uncanny X Force. That title was well received and sold well. Then it ended and two other X Force titles took it's place. They both did poorly and were quickly canceled and forgotten. Marvel's yearly re launching has been either all about forgetting the previous series or just an excuse to slap a first issue number on a title even though the title was a direct continuation of the previous series such as the current Avengers and when the Hulk was shot in the head.
Marvel needs to up its creativity and talent pool. Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor will both have another movie this year. Marvel once again will get no crossover traffic.
Hoping for some rumors of Marvel's next great plan. Marvel getting more people excited. We have Marvel customers. Just fewer than we have had in years. I want to see a swell of new Marvel fans.
Announcing hardly known creative teams on hardly known characters such as Man Thing is not the way to go.
Marvel has teased Secret Empire in 2017. People are assuming it is Marvel's 2017 summer crossover. And yes Civil War the Oath still has not come out and it is only over a week ago that Civil War II the main series ended and Marvel looks to start hyping their next crossover.
Friday received an email about ordering on Walking Dead. There is an upcoming 25 cent issue of Walking Dead. Image apparently wants us the retail stores to order the heck out of it. There are two variant covers for it. One is available for every 200 copies ordered. The other for every 500 copies ordered. Oy. Not what I wanted to read. How to take a cheap comic and make me spend a lot on. As I stated in a previous Projections I remember past 25 cent comics. 10 cent comics. Even 9 cent comics. They had no long term boost on comics. Red Sonja is currently on the front counter for 25 cents. I read the issue. I give it an above average rating. Easily worth 25 cents. Dynamite who published the Red Sonja issues is going to follow it up with a 25 cent Vamperilla issue. Bleedingcool ran an article saying the 25 cent Vamperilla issue is many thousands of copies behind what Red Sonja was ordered at. I would say that is because that trick was already done with Red Sonja. And even at 25 cents Red Sonja isn't selling that well. At least here at Rodman Comics. So having Vamperilla be for 25 cents isn't going to do anything for her title either. And now Image is having a Walking Dead 25 cent issue. A comic that is popular selling for 25 cents isn't going be nearly as profitable as it would be at $2.99. I will admit I am not thrilled with this idea. But Walking Dead does sell. So I am willing to give a mulligan on this if it doesn't work. I originally only order 50 copies. I do not see a rush of people stopping in getting the Walking Dead comic because it is at 25 cents. I just don't feel it. Now Image is playing the variant cover game. Which Marvel does a lot of. I am now going to order 500 copies to get two copies of the one for every 200 copies ordered variant and the one in 500 variant. Which most likely will lead to a bunch of unsold copies of Walking Dead even at 25 cents. Basically I am hoping the variants sell at a high enough price to still make a profit even with the unsold copies. There will be many other comic stores doing the same thing. So there may be a glut of Walking Dead comics in a lot of comic stores soon. So Image gets to say "wow, look at all these copies we sold!" Even though that number will be only the copies we the comic stores bought and not the actual sell through to customers. I hope I wrong. Would love to see a swarm of new customers across the country. Again the comic business makes no sense.
Newsrarama had a good article with Scott Synder about DC's upcoming event in 2017. http://www.newsarama.com/32547-snyder-capullo-s-2017-dc-event-to-be-celebratory-huge-crazy.html
I do like the part were Scott says it will not be superheroes fighting superheroes. That has been done a lot.
As I stated in previous Projections newsletters there would be changes with Rodman Comics. Part of the changes is shorting the hours during the week we are open. No more being open on Sundays and Mondays. As I stated plenty of times before. January is the slowest month for retail businesses. It still feels weird to cut back after such a great December. There is a part of me that says but what if the sales continue? Then there is my brain saying January has always been very slow. February usually is slightly better then summer comes and everything is great again.
I was here more in December and that did help. Less expenses, more productivity, and more profit. The cash generated in December is staying in the bank as a rainy day fund. Heck, the furnace could break. A pipe could freeze in the back room. A semi truck could drive through the front of the store. Hey, it sounds funny but it did happen to Xanuda Comics years ago. With my luck all three would happen in the same month. And of course after I type that up I read an online article about an SUV plowing through a comic store. The security footage an article I posted on our facebook page.
Been trading with other stores for their exclusive store variants. I did not have any issues in August when trading the Harley Quinn exclusives. Though for some reason the Justice League vs Suicide Squad 1 variant trades did not go as smoothly. One store seemed to think they were not going to get our shipment. Which I found odd. I think they pre sold our exclusives before they received them. I do not pre sell other stores exclusives since I do not have the small amount of theirs we trade for on hand. The reason I don't pre sell others' exclusives is because maybe I never receive theirs. Maybe all of their comics arrived damaged. It is the holiday season for damages. And of course after receiving one their shipments most of the comics were damaged and I contacted them about it and then I get ignored. Mine at least I know there should be at least enough to pre sell with no issues.
Another store who contacted us to do the Harley Quinn trade back in August surprised me this time. They contacted me to let me know the box had been beaten up that we sent out our comics in to them. I am always surprised when people act like we ran over the box of what ever we shipped to them. I worked in shipping and receiving and have seen how the various shipping services can treat their shipments. Alright so the post office over the holidays didn't handle the shipment with care. Surprise, surprise. Then the person who I traded with told they were going to send the same type conditioned comics to us. I responded with wait you haven't even sent them yet? Their books weren't even ones that came out in December but back in August. I even emailed that fact that he told me they would be packaged up and sent out over a week ago. He totally avoided that email so I sent it again. I was ready to say just send the ones we sent back. We will send them out this time. I was like you said that before. Then he let it slip that my shipment had arrived days before and they were just getting around to emailing me. As a retail store owner I have learned things. One you can not sell what you do not have. Another learned lesson. Time is not an ally for sales. Meaning the more time goes by before a transaction sale is completed the odds increase of it not happening. Something else comes up. Interest is lost in the item. And so on. Especially in this age of instant gratification.
He blamed the holidays after I protested. Which was weak because it was four days after the holiday and yes we were busy but I still did what I said I would do and sent out their shipment before the holidays. Not just his trade but all the trades with all the stores that we had decided to trade with. Granted there are some stores that I am still communicating with and if we agree to a trade then I will send to them.
I pointed out so what happens if the near mint copies that you are "matching" with the shipment you received get damaged? He didn't want to answer that one. The total lack of caring about not sending comics that they have had sense August really disappointed me. They got the better deal. Months old comics for week old comics. And they still couldn't be bothered to send them. I should have just said send back what we sent to you. If they were damaged I could have just donated them to the movie theater to give away.
One of my shipments did not make it to its destination. The box top with our address somehow was ripped right off and the only part of the shipment returned. Ouch. Did send a replacement shipment.
Another store owner I contacted asking where their shipment was. The tracking showed that it was in Des Moines "undeliverable". They were less than thrilled that they had to send another shipment. I told I understood since I had to do the same thing with one of our shipments.
The only good news with the shipping lateness is some of the later shipments means our customers that want them can pace out their spending more. Instead of one huge bill they can buy some on differnet weeks. The whole pleased Wizards of the Coast and/or Wizkids do not release multiple products on the same day.
Again this Saturday Jan 14th we have a midnight, noon, and 8 o'clock Pre Release. Right now the noon sign sheet has a taken the lead. Which is a shocker. The noon time slot used to be the least popular. Midnight used to be the leader followed by the 8 o'clock time slot. I know some of the people I have talked to have said that midnight is just to late now as we are getting older. I used to do all three pre releases. Go home and get some sleep at 6 in the morning after the midnight release then come back here and open at 11 and be ready for the noon pre release. Stay here from 11 in the morning to midnight and recover from it all Sunday. And we had quite a bit of players. I think gone are the days of having over 30 people playing here at pre releases. I still remember having over 40 players for magic once. Now when pre releases come up I mostly wonder what if the weather is bad that day? If we have a snowstorm or blizzard on the 14th that will most likely mean I will have a lot of pre release boxes unsold. I don't want anyone to risk a car accident or anything of course. Don't want to lose money on Magic either. Another thing about Pre Releases? They have stayed at $25 for five years or more if my memory is correct? In those years my costs have went up. Once again making Magic less attractive. We have some great players and I love them. But Wizards of the Coast either needs to raise the price so we all make more money or lower their costs to us which is a pipe dream. To truthful at this point I have no idea if Wizards of the Coast feels small game store are as needed to them as in the past. Magic is carried in so many large chain stores now that may be where they feel the money is at. Who needs mom and pop gaming stores when you have Wal Mart selling your product?
When I write these I do not try to be overly negative. I try to give a unique view. A real view. As I say I sell fantasy but I have to deal in reality. Fluff pieces of how great everything is aren't for me.
Nothing really earth shattering for this week's Projections. It is slow. I took cost saving steps. We are running more cost efficient than last year at this time. No Sundays and Mondays till at least maybe Summer was a good step.
I see some good news for Free Comic Book Day 2017. It looks like Marvel's next event crossover will have it's lead in on Free Comic Book Day such as how Marvel had Secret Wars and Civil War II in years past. Secret Empire which is rumored to be about Steve Rogers Captain America's trying to ouster Red Skull from Hydra. Marvel Free Comic Book Day event lead ins have been popular in the past.
And of course hope to see you at Rodman Comics! Especially if you want to buy something!
Interested in rare hard to find comics? Then check these out.