9.07.2006

Rant Of The Day

It really burns me. Comic shops not having books that are released that week. On the very day they come out. This can happen a variety of ways, let's discuss. Now, I've shopped all over the San Francisco Bay Area and am also getting my Southern California legs, so I won't name names here, but it probably won't be difficult to discern who this distasteful discourse is directed at.

So, *some* stores I've shopped at even open an hour early on Wednesdays. If regular store hours are say 11-5, they open at 10 on Wednesdays, some even staying open a bit later until 7 or so. This is a wonderful commitment to the customer and I applaud the stores that do it. And I reward retailers like this by spending my money there. Early birds can stop in and get their fix, while others can roll in after work if they're working a straight 9-5 type job. And the key here is, those stores actually have all of the books that came out that week! They are unpacked, up on the shelves, and organized! Ready to conduct business! What a novel concept!

Conversely, other stores I've shopped at on the other end of the continuum of Retailer Readiness are far from ready. They don't open early. They open at their regular hours of 11, and when I get there at 12 or so, guess what? They're still unpacking boxes! They're still trying to alphabetize and line the shelves while customers are in the store, standing around waiting impatiently, asking questions, and trying to make purchases! And usually, there is one guy working the shop during this melee. Invariably, as I'm waiting for a book I want to be unpacked, the register jock is off trying to check someone out. And when I'm finally ready to check out, the guy is off looking for some crusty old back issue of ROM: Space Knight because some random bloke walked in and asked. This is not good. Be ready for business! If you're open, then be open! And this is not a one-off occurrence, it's habitual. Every. Single. Week.

Some retailers will rhetort, well why don't you arrive later? First off, I shouldn't have to. Second, I've tried that. Sometimes I wait until later in the day, say 3 or 4, giving them ample time to get ready for business. And, guess what? Some of the books I want are already gone! Due to odd ordering practices, I'm left in the lurch. I mean, really, if I can't find a copy of a standard DC or Marvel book by 3pm which came out *that* very day, that's just poor. So that gives me this narrow window of like 1230ish to like 2ish where I'm trying to perform some byzantine calculation in my head computing the likelihood of the books actually being out and ready vs. the likelihood that I've waited too long and some schlub has just swiped the last copy of whatever title I want. Poor, poor, poor.

Another thing that happens is sometimes UPS (or whatever shipping company is utilized) will not deliver a complete order. If I have to hear "we only got a partial shipment" one more time, I think my head will explode. So there I am, looking at a partially full rack, wondering if I should still spend $ with this retailer and reward this supply chain catastrophe, or take my chances elsewhere. When I am standing there with money in my hand ready to spend, it is a bittersweet failure and sad industry commentary that I'm not able to actually make an F'ing purchase. Regardless of the option I ultimately choose (leaving empty-handed, trying elsewhere, or returning at an elusive time, ie: "check back later" syndrome), it is inconvenient to the consumer.

And any first year marketing student will tell you that inconvenience = decreased sales. I'm a firm believer in voting with my wallet, so I take these things quite seriously. I try to reward retailers that are doing things "correctly" (admittedly in my subjective opinion) with cold hard cash. Out looking for some trades to give away as gifts? I think long and hard about where to drop that money. Today, I was *intending* on picking up Agents of Atlas #2 (Marvel), Detective Comics #823 (DC), and the first part of a 3-issue Jonah Jex (DC) arc, since it featured an origin story pencilled by Jordi Bernet. Sadly, at 12:10pm, for whatever reason (it's really not my problem to figure out why), my retailer did not have these books. Needless to say, when I get around to actually buying them, it won't be from that shop.

With that frustration vented and behind us, reviews of what I was actually able to find will be up soon.

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