Opening a new brick and mortar shop
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Great thread lighthouse, just read start to finish and cant wait for the next instalment.

I wish you continued success  :)

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18 hours ago, lighthouse said:

It's a slap in the face to care more about finding new customers at a show than about the customers that are already in the store.

If you would have owned any of the bars or restaurants I worked in over the last 20 years, I'd still be in the service industry. I think your belief in taking care of the existing customers is definitely the way to go. I never understood why chasing new revenue took priority over maintaining existing revenue.

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11 hours ago, jas1vans said:

If you would have owned any of the bars or restaurants I worked in over the last 20 years, I'd still be in the service industry. I think your belief in taking care of the existing customers is definitely the way to go. I never understood why chasing new revenue took priority over maintaining existing revenue.

Ideas are easy. Execution is hard. There have been plenty of times when I've had to reexamine decisions we were making to see whether they were benefiting new customers at the expense of established customers. It's very easy to fall into those traps, no matter how much you "know" that the right thing to do is take care of the people who already count on you. But we make a concerted effort in the other direction and just hope we don't fail too often.

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Sorry for the lack of updates the past few days. Had to let an employee go, which happens. And now trying to decide what to do with Batman Damned.

Apparently ordering 110 shelf copies was a good thing?

It's one of the toughest frequent decisions to make as a comic retailer. How many copies do you sell at well below "market price" in an effort to build goodwill, and at what point do you cash in? Obviously we never pull hot books out of sub boxes and pretend we didn't get them just to make an extra buck. Anyone who subscribed to it is getting their copies at cover price whether they pick it up this week or in a month. But seeing eBay auctions at roughly $20-25 (including shipping) for the main cover and roughly $30 for the Jim Lee cover, it's tough to decide when to stop selling them at $6.99.

You'd love to think that customers who found them at your store at cover price when everyone else is sold out will remember you treated them "fairly" and give you extra business in the future. But from past experience with "hot" books, most of the folks who call ahead asking for a book currently selling at triple cover or better will come in, pick up that one specific book, and not visit the shop again until there is another hot book their regular shop doesn't have. You're not the store with the great customer service. You're that dumb LCS that sold them the book too cheap they brag about snagging in an online forum. There are exceptions, but it happens an awful lot.

We sold ten shelf copies before Diamond sold out yesterday. We sold another ten this morning before MYCS and Midtown went out of stock. And we are averaging 5 or 6 calls an hour today from non-regulars looking for the book.

We will sell some more at cover price. Haven't decided how many yet. And then likely we will just pull them from the shelves. Even though offering them at $15 a piece tomorrow should make us look nice for selling them below tomorrow's market price, it all too often just results in casual customers thinking we are overcharging them on a book that came out this week. So we will likely take the only other alternative. Pull them from the shelves. Wait for it to be common knowledge that they are $20 or $25 or whatever. And then put them back out.

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38 minutes ago, lighthouse said:

It's one of the toughest frequent decisions to make as a comic retailer. How many copies do you sell at well below "market price" in an effort to build goodwill, and at what point do you cash in? Obviously we never pull hot books out of sub boxes and pretend we didn't get them just to make an extra buck. Anyone who subscribed to it is getting their copies at cover price whether they pick it up this week or in a month. But seeing eBay auctions at roughly $20-25 (including shipping) for the main cover and roughly $30 for the Jim Lee cover, it's tough to decide when to stop selling them at $6.99.

You'd love to think that customers who found them at your store at cover price when everyone else is sold out will remember you treated them "fairly" and give you extra business in the future. But from past experience with "hot" books, most of the folks who call ahead asking for a book currently selling at triple cover or better will come in, pick up that one specific book, and not visit the shop again until there is another hot book their regular shop doesn't have. You're not the store with the great customer service. You're that dumb LCS that sold them the book too cheap they brag about snagging in an online forum. There are exceptions, but it happens an awful lot.

We sold ten shelf copies before Diamond sold out yesterday. We sold another ten this morning before MYCS and Midtown went out of stock. And we are averaging 5 or 6 calls an hour today from non-regulars looking for the book.

We will sell some more at cover price. Haven't decided how many yet. And then likely we will just pull them from the shelves. Even though offering them at $15 a piece tomorrow should make us look nice for selling them below tomorrow's market price, it all too often just results in casual customers thinking we are overcharging them on a book that came out this week. So we will likely take the only other alternative. Pull them from the shelves. Wait for it to be common knowledge that they are $20 or $25 or whatever. And then put them back out.

I agree that the fairweather customers will only come in looking for a copy and disappear.  It would be nice to entice them to start a reserve by offering them a copy at cover, but they would probably only take one book, and not even come pick it up.  I wouldn't feel guilty, everyone who asked for one got one, so you've taken care of the people taking care of you.  A store needs those wins to make up for ordering mistakes, and to give you some breathing room.  If you chat up a customer who deserves one at cover price, you can always use it as good will.

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1 hour ago, lighthouse said:

You'd love to think that customers who found them at your store at cover price when everyone else is sold out will remember you treated them "fairly" and give you extra business in the future. But from past experience with "hot" books, most of the folks who call ahead asking for a book currently selling at triple cover or better will come in, pick up that one specific book, and not visit the shop again until there is another hot book their regular shop doesn't have. You're not the store with the great customer service. You're that dumb LCS that sold them the book too cheap they brag about snagging in an online forum. There are exceptions, but it happens an awful lot.

 

57 minutes ago, FineCollector said:

I agree that the fairweather customers will only come in looking for a copy and disappear.  It would be nice to entice them to start a reserve by offering them a copy at cover, but they would probably only take one book, and not even come pick it up.  I wouldn't feel guilty, everyone who asked for one got one, so you've taken care of the people taking care of you.  A store needs those wins to make up for ordering mistakes, and to give you some breathing room.  If you chat up a customer who deserves one at cover price, you can always use it as good will.

Agree.  You're never building goodwill, those people are just like those who buy expensive books dirt cheap at garage sales.  Which is perfectly fine, but they are deal hunters, that is what they are looking for, not a shop to frequent to buy at regular price later on. 

 

Obviously, I have no knowledge of running a store to advise on when to pull them from selling at cover, but it seems to me if you aren't a pull customer, ya rolls the dice and takes yer chances.  The pull guys getting a littl emore consideration is warranted because they provide steady income and let you know ahead of time what they want so you can order more accurately and have known sales.

Edited by SteppinRazor

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13 hours ago, SteppinRazor said:
15 hours ago, lighthouse said:

You'd love to think that customers who found them at your store at cover price when everyone else is sold out will remember you treated them "fairly" and give you extra business in the future. But from past experience with "hot" books, most of the folks who call ahead asking for a book currently selling at triple cover or better will come in, pick up that one specific book, and not visit the shop again until there is another hot book their regular shop doesn't have. You're not the store with the great customer service. You're that dumb LCS that sold them the book too cheap they brag about snagging in an online forum. There are exceptions, but it happens an awful lot.

 

14 hours ago, FineCollector said:

I agree that the fairweather customers will only come in looking for a copy and disappear.  It would be nice to entice them to start a reserve by offering them a copy at cover, but they would probably only take one book, and not even come pick it up.  I wouldn't feel guilty, everyone who asked for one got one, so you've taken care of the people taking care of you.  A store needs those wins to make up for ordering mistakes, and to give you some breathing room.  If you chat up a customer who deserves one at cover price, you can always use it as good will.

Agree.  You're never building goodwill, those people are just like those who buy expensive books dirt cheap at garage sales.  Which is perfectly fine, but they are deal hunters, that is what they are looking for, not a shop to frequent to buy at regular price later on. 

 

Obviously, I have no knowledge of running a store to advise on when to pull them from selling at cover, but it seems to me if you aren't a pull customer, ya rolls the dice and takes yer chances.  The pull guys getting a littl emore consideration is warranted because they provide steady income and let you know ahead of time what they want so you can order more accurately and have known sales.

I would say it kinda depends on the book and how many copies you got, but here's how I'd do it, assuming 100 copies is sort of 'a lot' for your store.

1.  Obviously those who order it in advance or pull customers get it at whatever agreed upon price (cover or cover with discount) they ordered it as.

2.  Sell as many as possible on New Comic Wednesday, keep replenishing the shelf, but limit to two copies per person.

3.  For the rest of the week keep selling at cover at 1 copy per person, but only put out 5-10 copies (or whatever #) per day (or every other day).  Or when if/when people ask, tell them you'll get more copies on whatever the slow days are - Friday, Monday, then reshelf then.

4.  Call up top subscribers and give them the chance to subscribe to this title at cover price (assuming they didn't already subscribe). 

5.  If people call in, tell them the only way they can guarantee a copy at cover price is to subscribe.

6.  Maybe hold a few (10-20) to sell 2 weeks later at higher prices.  But only put out like one or two at a time.

 

But Week 1 (and maybe week 2) I would still sell at cover.  If you're going to hold some back to sell for more, don't do it THAT week.  That's a bad look.  I want to know that if I go THE FIRST WEEK for a comic I can pay cover.  If they sell out, that's on me as a customer.  But if the store raises the price, that's on them.  I understand that some stores sell out of comics sometimes, but if I go the first week, I don't want to a shop at a store where the price of new comics is arbitrary.

Edited by revat

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6 minutes ago, revat said:

I would say it kinda depends on the book and how many copies you got, but here's how I'd do it, assuming 100 copies is sort of 'a lot' for your store.

1.  Obviously those who order it in advance or pull customers get it at whatever agreed upon price (cover or cover with discount) they ordered it as.

2.  Sell as many as possible on New Comic Wednesday, keep replenishing the shelf, but limit to two copies per person.

3.  For the rest of the week keep selling at cover at 1 copy per person, but only put out 5-10 copies (or whatever #) per day (or every other day).  Or when if/when people ask, tell them you'll get more copies on whatever the slow days are - Friday, Monday, then reshelf then.

4.  Call up top subscribers and give them the chance to subscribe to this title at cover price (assuming they didn't already subscribe). 

5.  If people call in, tell them the only way they can guarantee a copy at cover price is to subscribe.

6.  Maybe hold a few (10-20) to sell 2 weeks later at higher prices.  But only put out like one or two at a time.

 

But Week 1 (and maybe week 2) I would still sell at cover.  If you're going to hold some back to sell for more, don't do it THAT week.  That's a bad look.  I want to know that if I go THE FIRST WEEK for a comic I can pay cover.  If they sell out, that's on me as a customer.  But if the store raises the price, that's on them.  I understand that some stores sell out of comics sometimes, but if I go the first week, I don't want to a shop at a store where the price of new comics is arbitrary.

If I had a lot of copies of a hot book I'd offer them to my file customers who hadn't subscribed to that book and to customers who don't have a file but do buy regularly.  Rewarding good customers would be my first priority.  I'd be careful about telling anyone they could get a copy if they opened a file.  They might open a file just for the book and then never come back to clear their file.

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2 minutes ago, thehumantorch said:

If I had a lot of copies of a hot book I'd offer them to my file customers who hadn't subscribed to that book and to customers who don't have a file but do buy regularly.  Rewarding good customers would be my first priority.  I'd be careful about telling anyone they could get a copy if they opened a file.  They might open a file just for the book and then never come back to clear their file. 

I agree about the concerns about people opening a file just to get the copy.  That would depend on how I ran my account situation.  If there's some type of minimum amount for a file and a deposit situation (like min 3-4 books per month with 1 month deposit), it would make more sense.  If its a somewhat looser system it's not a good idea, you're right.

Another thing I might do (if I had enough copies), is just GIVE one free copy to my top 2-3 subscribers, and tell them in PERSON "I'm giving you a free copy of this BECAUSE you're one of my best customers, TOP 3.  We value your business"  Make sure you say the specific number, hopefully it keeps them buying more to stay near the top.

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Ultimately we kept them on sale at cover price until noon on Friday then pulled the plug. I think at one point we had 10 or 12 customers in a row who walked in, bought one copy, complained that we wouldn't sell them a second one for their "friend", bought absolutely nothing else, and left.

I'm sure all those people will come back, right? Right?

Still have a few dozen copies left. Including two original shrinkwrapped bundles of cover A. It's funny because we received at least 80 calls about the book on Thursday, told all those people that we still had copies, but very few made the trip. So now the extras sit until we can put them back out without risking bad reviews.

Ah well, back to the monthly order...

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15 hours ago, lighthouse said:

Ultimately we kept them on sale at cover price until noon on Friday then pulled the plug. I think at one point we had 10 or 12 customers in a row who walked in, bought one copy, complained that we wouldn't sell them a second one for their "friend", bought absolutely nothing else, and left.

I'm sure all those people will come back, right? Right?

Still have a few dozen copies left. Including two original shrinkwrapped bundles of cover A. It's funny because we received at least 80 calls about the book on Thursday, told all those people that we still had copies, but very few made the trip. So now the extras sit until we can put them back out without risking bad reviews.

Ah well, back to the monthly order...

I personally would have pulled them COB Wednesday.  You want a full shelf on Wednesday if possible, but after that it is fair game.  I personally would move the rest of the stock online for the next week to avoid the customers that think you are ripping them off.  Just my 2 cents.

Hope you make a few dollars off these as I hate seeing local shops lose out because they get stock with extra stock and then don't maximize when they do hit with a good book.

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45 minutes ago, slg343 said:

I personally would have pulled them COB Wednesday.  You want a full shelf on Wednesday if possible, but after that it is fair game.  I personally would move the rest of the stock online for the next week to avoid the customers that think you are ripping them off.  Just my 2 cents.

Hope you make a few dollars off these as I hate seeing local shops lose out because they get stock with extra stock and then don't maximize when they do hit with a good book.

We don't do any mail order. No website ordering. No eBay. None of that. We sell some items on consignment through MYCS, and we let Amazon handle liquidating some overstock for us through their FBA service. But we don't sell anything online that would require us to handle fulfillment.

That said, we will be fine moving these. As much foot traffic as we have, I'm not concerned about getting these out the door when the time comes. Maybe that is around when issue 2 hits in two months. Maybe it's when issue 3 hits. Maybe we are still selling them a few years from now. If I had 500 copies I would be more concerned about rebalancing my portfolio. With a few dozen copies, they'll move fine.

I'm just hoping DC recognizes the opportunity they have here, and gets second printings in the pipeline fast enough to have them available when issue 2 hits. It's going to suck if half the people who want to actually read the story can't because so many of the issue 1s are tied up in collections of people who happened to watch late night tv. The FOC for issue 2 is still 25 days away, but I can tell you that my order volume could go up or down by a factor of 2 depending on whether 2nd prints of issue 1 are available. It's not fun saying "yeah, here's issue 2 of that story you heard all about on the news, but issue 1 is $60, would you like to get both today?"

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10 minutes ago, lighthouse said:

We don't do any mail order. No website ordering. No eBay. None of that. We sell some items on consignment through MYCS, and we let Amazon handle liquidating some overstock for us through their FBA service. But we don't sell anything online that would require us to handle fulfillment.

That said, we will be fine moving these. As much foot traffic as we have, I'm not concerned about getting these out the door when the time comes. Maybe that is around when issue 2 hits in two months. Maybe it's when issue 3 hits. Maybe we are still selling them a few years from now. If I had 500 copies I would be more concerned about rebalancing my portfolio. With a few dozen copies, they'll move fine.

I'm just hoping DC recognizes the opportunity they have here, and gets second printings in the pipeline fast enough to have them available when issue 2 hits. It's going to suck if half the people who want to actually read the story can't because so many of the issue 1s are tied up in collections of people who happened to watch late night tv. The FOC for issue 2 is still 25 days away, but I can tell you that my order volume could go up or down by a factor of 2 depending on whether 2nd prints of issue 1 are available. It's not fun saying "yeah, here's issue 2 of that story you heard all about on the news, but issue 1 is $60, would you like to get both today?"

I agree with the sentiment that you let file customers (who didn't already order it) and regular walk ins who spend money (and your customer loyalty system let's you know who they are) have a crack at it at $6.99, but the walk in flippers, F-them after Wed (and heck, I have been one of them, although I tended to go back to stores where I found good stuff)

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From what i understand is that DC have indicated that there will be no reprints of issue 1 for the foreseeable future. Does that change your thinking in anyway?

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1 minute ago, Octavius said:

From what i understand is that DC have indicated that there will be no reprints of issue 1 for the foreseeable future. Does that change your thinking in anyway?

It resulted in us reducing our orders for issue 2. There's still time before the FOC date, obviously, since initial orders for Batman Damned 2 were due tonight. But rather than planning for 50-75 shelf sales to go along with sales of second prints of #1, we are planning for around 10-15 shelf sales of 2.

The $4-5k in value in Damned 1 is a nice windfall. But I would have much preferred to be able to bring in more new readers. Mainstream media coverage brings former collectors out of the woodwork, and each of those visits is a chance to bring someone back to the hobby. Second prints of Batman Damned not only would have sold themselves (and issues 2 and 3), they would have resulted in additional sales of other current DC titles and DC trades.

It's a short-sighted decision by DC. But it's their company. They can run it how they like...

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On 9/27/2018 at 9:44 PM, lighthouse said:

It resulted in us reducing our orders for issue 2. There's still time before the FOC date, obviously, since initial orders for Batman Damned 2 were due tonight. But rather than planning for 50-75 shelf sales to go along with sales of second prints of #1, we are planning for around 10-15 shelf sales of 2.

The $4-5k in value in Damned 1 is a nice windfall. But I would have much preferred to be able to bring in more new readers. Mainstream media coverage brings former collectors out of the woodwork, and each of those visits is a chance to bring someone back to the hobby. Second prints of Batman Damned not only would have sold themselves (and issues 2 and 3), they would have resulted in additional sales of other current DC titles and DC trades.

It's a short-sighted decision by DC. But it's their company. They can run it how they like...

I like that you're thinking long term and care more about building a customer base than a quick sale.

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4 hours ago, Malavin said:

I’m enjoying this post. Any more to add lighthouse?

+1

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