Saturday, June 7, 2008

Shop Around

I've mentioned in previous postings about the times when my local comic shop has come up short on orders for items - either they got shorted or they didn't order something I put on my subscription list, etc. We'll it happened again this week.

Two books came up missing from this week's pull: The Rann/Thanagar Holy War #2 and the War That Time Forgot #2. I mentioned last month how I enjoyed both first issues and was looking forward to continuing these mini's. Come last Wednesday, no second issues despite the books coming out. I was annoyed. If both had been shorted on the orders, they'd show up next week. But if the shop didn't order enough and my copies weren't pulled, I was going to be out of luck and pretty much dead in the water on the titles.

Last night, my wife and I were having a dinner date out (our son spending the night at a friend's house to celebrate the last day of school) and we decided to go to the Tap Room downtown. She likes their fish and chips. I like their wings and pub chips with beer cheese dipping sauce. Due to a live event going on in the square nearby, we had to park down further and walk. What did I spy?

Another comic shop in town - a place called Sidekick Comics and Magazines. We had a few minutes before they closed so we stopped in. I figured maybe they might have the two missing books. They did. They also had the first eight issues of Gotham Underground which I was thinking of picking up. I had seen issue five in the local shop three months, liked the art and was going to buy the back issues. However, they didn't have #1 so I bagged it - figuring why start a fixed story arc without the opening chapter. Sidekick had all eight. Guess who got the sale? Yup.

Turns out they also do discounts, comparible to the other shop in town. The store is clean, family friendly, and with attentive employees. The store is also less out of the way for me. I'm considering the switch.

Now, don't get me wrong - I'm usually very loyal to my retailers. The comic shop I went to in Raleigh was one I visited every week regularly for 17 1/2 years. Capital Comics has a pleasant staff and friendly owner, all who took the time to get to know their customers and time to have a brief personal talk with them during sales time each week. They'd special order anything you wanted and even went out of the way to reward long time, loyal customers. I never would have left going to that shop if I had stayed in the area. Only my move led to my change.

And Time Tunnel here was good at the beginning. They came out of the box with my subscription titles first week I was in town (I brought them a list on a house hunting trip prior to my job started to set things up). The owner and his son are great. The former manager who since left to open a sister shop up near Appalachian State was great. It is only in the past year or so that the customer service level has slipped. This is what is prompting me to consider changing over to this other shop.

We'll see.


Rann/Thanager Holy War #2 (of 8) - Starlin and Lim continue to unfold this cosmic epic with good pacing, allowing each of the varied cast members to have shining moments again. I'm enjoying the ride so far.

The War That Time Forgot #2 (of 12) - a nice Brian Bolland cover to start. The inside art not as good but servicable for the story being told. More time-lost DC characters showing up as Colonel Jape finds himself in an arena fighting for his life.

Funny thing about both books - the covers each have a dinosaur. Julius Schwartz, renowned DC silver age editor, always used to say that dinosaurs and apes on the cover of books often boosted sales. I guess guys like seeing the heroes fight dinosaurs and apes. Must be something wired into guys like that.


Michael O. said...

Loyalty is admirable, definitely, but sooner of later, if a retailer isn't taking care of customers, the only thing that's going to get them to change their ways is when they start losing customers.

In San Diego, I had a little shop that was almost walking distance from mine and Aaron's apartment. I could barely move around in it, it was so small. But the owner was a nice enough guy, and it was convenient. But problems started. First, he started changing his rules with credit cards. He claimed that it was all the credit card company's fault, of course, for raising their rates on retailers so much, but he chose to keep raising the minimum purchase amount. Soon it was $25.00. I wasn't buying all that many books, so often I wasn't buying $25 worth in a week. So because he felt shafted by the credit card company, I had to make an extra stop at a cash machine, or remember to bring my checkbook, just so he could pass his frustration on to us? Did he think that was somehow going to sway the company, like I was going to call them and demand they change their rates so San Diego Comics would lower their minimum? There was that, and I started having the "whoops" factor from them, too, with books not being pulled, and they ordered so few books that the big ones always sold out. If it did sell out, their attitude was "maybe we'll have it as a back issue soon".

I finally got fed up and looked into Russ's store, which was up the hill by my work. MUCH bigger shop, much bigger selection. I was checking it out my first time in there and asked the girl (Sarah, who I'd come to get to know well) if there was any credit card minimum. She looked at me like I was high and said, "No, why would we turn down your money?" Ah haaaaaa. Good question... I always got my stuff pulled right, and they had a good discount, and they had enough ordered so I could browse and try new stuff on the shelf...and if I liked it, buy up the previous several issues because they were still up there. And if something sold out that I asked for, they immediately got on the phone with their other store and had it driven over so it'd be in my saver the next time. I stuck with them right up until I moved (and made them a ridiculous deal on my, like, seven years of comics that I didn't want to move all the way to Sac).

I say give the new joint a try. This is a zero guilt situation. It's not "show friends", it's "show business". Go where they treat you right, my friend.

Martin said...

Mike, I'm thinking the same thing. My pull-list is shrinking any way so it might not be too long before I drop monthlies all together. We'll see.

KC said...

I had a similar experience to Mike.

Even when my current store misses something, it's there the next week. I like driving all the way out to Keith's mainly because I don't need to go every week (I collect so few books now it could be monthly for all that) but i go every other week and just pick up stuff from the rack that looks interesting. Sometimes I've been pleased, sometimes not so much, but at least that's my choice.