Sunday, January 14, 2018

Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends
We’re So Glad You Could Attend, Come Inside, Come Inside

By The Comic Book Pusher

(I confess. I usurped that title. Apologies to Emerson, Lake and Palmer for blatantly borrowing the lyrics to “Karn Evil 9 - 1st Impression - Part 2” for the title of this blog entry. Please go here to hear the song, or better yet, buy it at your favorite LOCAL music store.)

I know, I know. It's been a long while since you've heard from me, your friendly neighborhood Comic Book Pusher. I’m truly sorry about that. But, as the rip-off title of this blog installment suggests, the show never ended. It’s been going on ever since the last time I set myself down and pounded out a story of my experiences as The Comic Book Pusher to you, my faithful readers. It is, as the title suggests, a story that never ends, or if it does, it ends with this Comic Book Pusher’s final tale, whenever and whatever that may be. But that story is not this one, at least I don't plan it to be, and I am here to say that I am back telling my story again and I have a few confessions, and perhaps frustrations, about my life as a comic book pusher to impart to you, my neglected if not loyal readers. And perhaps a warning, if you have the wisdom to listen.

I spent the evening tonight embracing a martini or two while downing the latest issue of a Marvel comic book entitled "Avengers: No Surrender". Interesting stuff. A great new beginning for the eponymous team. Pick up a copy, preferably at The Comics Club.

While downing that issue, and the martinis, I distracted myself in a most wonderful and intimate way via conversation with a friend, one Tim Von Cloedt of Americana Rocks, which is no longer there, but should be. Here is the once heralded website: Plaster it in your bookmarks because maybe, just maybe, Tim will grace the world once more with the wonder that should have been more appreciated at time. I plastered it. I hope you will. Tim is an amazing guy. You wish you were he. And he is humble enough to wish I wouldn’t say things like that, but like I said, martinis. So read what I have to say or find someplace else to be. Those of you who are familiar with what I write know I write from the heart, and sometimes from a martini or two.

Or three.

On to comic book pushing.

We, in the corporate sense of The Comics Club, my comic book store for those unfamiliar with the Wonderland-like insanity that absorbs most of the hours of most of my days, My Wonderful Prison, as it were, had our first-ever 2nd Saturday Super Sidewalk Sale on the sidewalk in front of The Comics Club yesterday (as of this writing). It was successful within the confines of the parameters that I set for the event. Kudos to  my many loyal customers who took the time to come out in the sub 60 degree temperatures (which, so you know, is really, REALLY cold for those of us who call the subtropics home) to buy stuff from the tables we set up on the sidewalk out in front of the store. You got some really great stuff at some really great prices, and I am proud to say that I am the pusher who supplied said great stuff. (A special thank you to Duffy, who was thoughtful enough to bring a sampling of one of his favorite whiskies to warm the slowly freezing innards of one self-professed Comic Book Pusher.) The event gave me hope that the 2nd Saturday Super Sidewalk Sale events in the coming months will do so likewise.

Did you follow all that? If so, you have definitely had less to drink than I have.

So at this point you may be asking yourselves, “What the hell is this entry all about, Mr. Comic Book Pusher? Are you drunk, or do you have a point to make here?” And rightfully so. So I will tell you: “Not quite”, and that this blog entry is about hope. Hope that comic book stores that give you what The Comics Club and so many other little rinky-dink mom and pop comic book shops across this country of ours give you will see the end of 2018 with their doors still open for business.

This past holiday sales season saw internet-based retail stores sales skyrocket to a 20% increase over last year. Let that sink in for a moment. 20 percent. In the world of retail sales, that is beyond amazing. Six percent is considered really, really good. What kind of increase do you think your local comic book store experienced? 15%? 10%? 5%? How about NO INCREASE AT ALL. In fact, most shops like The Comics Club experienced a year-over-year DECLINE of about 6-15% or more during this year’s holiday sales season. If you need to bring that home, picture your income dropping by 15%. Did you just kiss that vacation good-bye? That new car? Worse, did you just wonder if you could continue to afford to pay for health insurance? Did you just start worrying if you would be able to pay your mortgage?

Yeah. Like that.

Do you like having a local book, comic book and/or gaming store? (I’m not talking about a NATIONAL CHAIN that operates within your local community. I’m talking about those little “mom & pop” shops like The Comics Club or the Book Corner where the actual owners are there most every day. The ones whose owners know your name, know you have two kids and a dog and that your house got flooded by hurricane Erma.) IF you like those stores, IF you care one damn bit about them and want them to continue to exist in your community, then I’ll be blunt. VERY blunt: You damn well better start putting some money into those stores EVEN IF IT MEANS COSTING YOU MORE THAN WHAT IT WOULD HAVE COST YOU ON AMAZON or one of the “local” national chains.

By now some of you have stopped reading because you don’t like being “preached” to. Maybe you’re thinking “How dare you accuse me of not caring about my local community!” But if you REALLY do care about your local book, comic book and gaming stores at all then, please, read on. If you have ever lamented the loss of a local “mom and pop” shop that went out of business then, please, read on.

  The Comics Club has been serving the comic book and gaming community for 28 years running. In that time we have tried our best to compete with the likes of Amazon and Wal-Mart and e-Bay and so-called “local” stores that are actually national or internet-based chains, as well as thousands of individual internet-based businesses. We strive to give you the best experience for your comic book and gaming hobby. We know we can’t be everything you want, but we try very hard to provide you with the comic books, games, toys, statues, T-shirts, etc. that you want. But if you don’t preorder, if you don’t do a subscription, if you don’t join the discount club, if you don’t do your Christmas, birthday, anniversary and everyday hobby shopping at your local stores like The Comics Club, or if getting “points” on internet sites or getting a one or two percentage point better discount are more important than the experience that stores like ours provide to you, The Comics Club and all the other little rinky-dink mom and pop shops like us will go bye-bye.

And there you will be, standing in front of the “Closed For Business” sign of your once favorite local mom and pop store saying, “Wow, I loved that store.” But truth be told, if that happens, apparently you didn’t. That little extra discount that made you chose to buy from the internet-based store or at the "local" chain instead of your “favorite” comic book store or gaming store or bookstore was more important to you. And, like I said, there you will be, standing in front of the empty storefront wondering “What happened?” Well, if it happens, you won’t have to wonder. You will know exactly what happened. And if you are thinking, “Well, my one small purchase won't make a difference.” you are deluding yourself, because you would be like all the others who thought the same thing.

  Your one, small purchase DOES make a difference.

I know this all sounds very heavy-handed and IN YOUR FACE. That’s because it is meant to be. Because it is the truth. You know it to be true. Don’t abandon your local mom and pop stores. It isn’t all about the money for us. If it was I'd still be in my previous profession as a magazine editor. I made a lot more money there. But I chose to do what I love. And at The Comics Club we do it because we love what we do. And we love our customers and our local community.

But if you do care, if you really care and want your local shops to survive, what can you do? Most local stores offer a subscription service. Subscribe. Most local stores offer a discount club. Join. Most local stores can pre-order the next novel, comic book, graphic novel, game or toy for you, with free shipping. Order through them. Most of your local stores can compete on price. Not always. But will Amazon be there at 7:59 on Saturday night when you need a game or dice set or gift for that night or the next day? Your local book store, comic book store and gaming store will be, and they will likely be able to say, “Hope you and (your children, or wife, or friends) have a good time!”. Do you already have subscription with your local comic book store? Then don't be late paying for your merchandise. Pay on time, every time.

And while you’re at it, pay in cash whenever possible. It really, really, really does make a difference.

As I said before, this blog entry is about hope. I hope I haven’t alienated you. I hope I have reached you. I hope you realize how much you mean to us. I hope we mean something to you. I hope to see you – yes you, Dave, Bill, Jennifer, Juan, Hector, Tesha, (yep, we really do know most of you by name, and probably your kids’ names, too; you aren’t just numbers in our system like you are at Amazon and the like) – at The Comics Club.

Tell ‘em The Comic Book Pusher sent ya.

Next time in Confessions“Did you say ‘FREE’?” The Evolution of Free Comic Book Day at The Comics Club

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