Friday, February 8, 2008
No One Has Bought Anything Ever
This title has two meanings. In one, it basically illustrates the fact that 90% of the people coming into your store aren't going to buy anything. In the other, it's a sage word of wisdom to anyone who has had a nerdy grandpa die, or found comics belonging to you at age 13, before Limp Bizkit and trying to nail teenagers at Hot Topic took over your life, or performed a home invasion of a geek. You are not selling those comics. Not the Lady Death #0 chromium nip-slip edition. Not the issue of Uncanny X-Men where Wolverine and Cyclops perform bukkake on Professor X as he sleeps. Not Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman. You ain't sellin' it. Not in this economy, and not in this industry.
The majority of my phone calls and interactions were with people looking to sell stuff. I guess it's nothing too horrible. Phone bill runs a little high, you used to like G.I. Joe, so you figure you can unload some back issues for that extra $25-50. Or, your significant other is a big Antiques Roadshow fan, and it dawns on you that you have a copy of Blue Beetle with Benjamin Fuckin' Franklin's name on it. Still, when you deal with it on an hourly basis... it blows.
Our store wasn't the only that dealt with it. No one in our area bought, and it was even a point of contention in a discussion between Kevin Smith and Bryan Johnson in an episode of SModcast dealing with Johnson's distaste for both comic books and retail.
The reason stores don't buy is usually twofold. In one, times are tough. This ain't the go-go late '90s where we were dealing with national surpluses and comic retailers were snorting coke off of diamond display cases (not to be confused with Diamond Display Cases™ on sale from the Previews catalog for only $199.95!) thanks to the profits of Pokémon. This is the era of comics where bookstores wisely jumped on the manga trade, raking in tons of cash from nerdy/cute teenage girls and the otaku that love them. This is an era where even hillbillies have wifi in their outhouses and toolsheds. This is an era where people download music, movies, and yes, comics for free, and what they can't get free they get from Amazon for 45% off, free shipping and a sensual massage.
The second reason is partly inscribed in the ranting above. Comic shops ain't making a whole lot of money. Even Golden Apple in LA with all its Samuel L. Jacksons and Nicholas Cages didn't earn its owner a hot tub in his stretch Hummer if his obit was any indication. So chances are the local comic shop you frequent (or more likely don't) is just a month away from foreclosure. And Diamond having exclusive rights to Marvel products, DC products, and your first-born ain't helping either.
So the next time you head out to a comic shop with a sack full of Spawns and a head full of dreams... do yourself a favor. Get your eBay on, donate the comics to a children's hospital (a suggestion I would always make that would without fail get a great reaction from a people that have no concept of charity), or just step in front of a moving bus. Because all of those options are better than trying to sell to a comic book store.