"TODAY'S HOTTEST COMICS AT BELOW GUIDE PRICES!", read the opening line to the tiny advert in The Comic Buyer's Guide.
Within just a few days of the ad breaking the requests for the catalog started trickling into my mail box. Yes, trickling. The response was modest to say the least. Do you remember as a kid when, in the days leading up to your birthday you would get all excited about turning a year older, then the day came and went and nothing really happened? You didn't feel any different. It was just kind of a let down. Yeah, that feeling.
Then one day in 1992, while sitting at my desk and contemplating the early demise of at least several utterly contemptible and thoroughly despicable coworkers, I realized that I did not belong in the insane office life I was living. I had risen through the ranks from staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, was making great money, but I was no longer happy. My higher-level position in the magazine meant that I was now more of a people manager than a writer. My enthusiasm for journalism waned considerably amid that nine-to-five yuppie grind.
Indeed, my disposition at the time required a wholly different kind of insanity. I realized that I needed to be my own boss. Not just part-time; all the time. So, just like that, I walked away from wealth and security to the strange, uncertain, but intriguing world of the entrepreneur. I would become an Entertainment Retailer and turn The Comics Club into a full-time profession.
I had been pushing comics via mail-order for a few years now. It was fun, but up to then had really been just a hobby. It made money, but not much. To turn The Comics Club into a business that would pay the bills, I would have to take the next steps toward establishing a storefront from which to push comic books. That would take some time and research, and a deeper journey down the rabbit hole of comic book pushing.
A typical conversion with a fan who approached my table or booth at a show would go something like this:
"Hi!" I would greet them with enthusiasm. I loved greeting customers then, and I still do today. "Are you looking for anything special today?" Then, as I helped them find what they were hunting down, I would slip a few questions into the conversation, asking them where they go to buy their comic books and what they liked about the store. The most typical response was: "I'll tell you what I don't like about them."
That was music to my ears. I got dozens upon dozens of testimonials from fans candidly offering up what they most liked and most hated about the retail comic book and sports card stores they frequented. It was a goldmine of information. The shows not only delivered the information I needed, they also supplied me with many new contacts; people who had already been involved in pushing comics for many years.
One of those retailers approached me about selling comic books and other merchandise to his store wholesale. By then I had established an account with Capital City Distribution and was buying comics and other merchandise wholesale to sell at the shows. I agreed to supply him and at that point I added distribution to my mix of show and mail-order sales. Soon I would add several more comic book and sports card stores to my list of clients, selling them comics and other merchandise outright, as well as putting comic books in some stores on a consignment basis. The inside look at their retail operations was invaluable. That, combined with more than a year of doing collectibles shows and taking copious notes from conversations with customers, gave me the education I needed to make the move to adding retail to my little comic book empire.
Next time in "Confessions":
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