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Old 06-23-2018, 05:37 AM   #1
Loki
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Mega Dunsparce End of a dream, future uncertain

So I've mentioned this many times, but these last 4ish years I've been working at a local hobby & gaming shop. It's kind of my dream job that I never thought I'd ever actually get, although it's very different from how I thought too.

Sadly, by the end of this summer, I won't be able to stay with this job. Not because I've been fired or because I wanted to move on, not because business has been doing poorly (in fact it's been booming!), but because of a stupid dispute between the family that owns the property our store currently resides on.

I decided I'd write down a few of my experiences. I'll probably post something on Reddit or Imgur or whatever later on, but I'd like to put it down here first so I can collect my thoughts. If you guys have any questions about working retail at a fun, casual hobby shop, just ask away. If I have an answer, I'll answer.

I was (I guess still am) the store manager on the weekends and I was mostly in charge of handling events for Magic: The Gathering TCG. I knew a bit about Pokemon, so I tried to help with that as well. I think everyone helped handle board games and trying to learn as many as we could to help customers find the right one for them.


This was super frustrating. When we first started, we pretty much only did Magic once a week seriously and Sunday was a free play day, so if MTG happened, it happened. If something else did, that happened. But the players started to ask me for another day of MTG, more specifically dedicated to certain formats. Now, in NYC, Standard (format consisting of the newest sets that rotates sets out every few years) isn't super popular and most players typically liked to play Modern (format which contains cards from 2003 until present) because their decks are eternal and they feel more comfortable with a deck they've played longer.

So I asked around and most everyone pretty much says they do nothing Monday nights. I did a bit of research, looking into other hobby shops and which days they run their events. I didn't like the idea of overlapping our event days with anyone else because we'd end up both having less players and we can't really have tournaments if no one shows up. Well, seems no one ran events on Mondays. So I ask my boss and he agrees.

And no one shows up most weeks. It's kind of strange. People will say one thing, but really not care about it. "I want to play Modern," really means they want to justify buying their expensive decks. They want the option to show their deck isn't a waste of their money, but when it comes time to actually show up and play some games, they don't really want to commit the time or energy to show up.

This would usually get me really worried. Like it made me look stupid that I said one thing to my boss, and then we get poor results despite all my talks with them and crosschecking with other shops.

Thankfully my boss didn't just tell me to shut it down. He knew if we held the event and no one showed up, it wouldn't really be any different from not holding an event at all.

We still post the event online each week and on the day of, we get tons of phone calls about it too. But some weeks we get a dozen guys, and then the other weeks we don't see a single soul.


This one is a bit weirder. This was at our first location before we moved to our current one. When the owner first started the business, he lived in an apartment attached to the store. He eventually moved out for various reasons and this new family moved in. The father of this family was absolutely incapable of being civil with us.

He would constantly bitch when our mail was sent to his mailbox (since we share an address) and he wouldn't just walk it over, he would bitch us out. Yell and complain every time he was so inconvenienced that he would have to walk maybe 10 or so feet to bring it to us. He complained whenever anyone, usually a customer, parked anywhere close to his parking spot and in most situations, those cars were nowhere near blocking him. He also refused to share our trash section behind his apartment. The building didn't have space for a dumpster and we asked the city and they said since the address was technically a residential one, we could just use normal trash disposal instead of having to hire a dumpster company to pick it up. But not for him. If we left trash out on the corner, he would drag it back to our door. Even after we spoke to the landlord, he refused to work with us. Eventually we had to start taking the trash further down the block past his "property" to signify our trash was different from his.

Anyway, literally the last month we would be at that location, I remember closing the shop and taking out the trash. As I walked past his window, I saw him inside looking out. I kind of ignored him because I didn't really want to deal with any of his shit. I had a second bag of trash and as I walked that one out, he steps out and says "Did you make Kung Fu noises at me?"

I'm Chinese, but I've never done Kung Fu in my life. I was completely confused by his line of questioning. "What?!?"

And he repeats himself, "Did you make Kung Fu noises at me?"

"What does that even mean?"

He then says he felt threatened by some noise I made as I walked past his window. This was like dead middle of winter and I remember having a light cough at the time, so I said, "You mean when I coughed?"

Then he starts talking about how I disrespected him or some nonsense and I just make this face of absolute disbelief. It was subfreezing temperatures and it was late (like 11PM). I wanted to go home, not talk to this crazy person.

So I just snapped back, "Did I kick your dog?! Did I push your grandfather down the stairs?! I'm literally just minding my own business and doing my job! I would never make Kung Fu noises at you because I don't care about you or your opinion of me! You're just the guy that lives behind a place I work! I'm just trying to finish up and go home! Unless you have a legitimate complaint, I'm leaving!"

He starts saying something, but I just get so frustrated, ignore him, and walked away. I locked up and left. My friend was in his car out in front of the shop and he takes me home. That was kind of when some adrenaline wore off and I got kind of spooked, like I was in mortal danger a moment ago. I knew he was a military veteran of some kind and he was much more physically fit than I am, so I kind of thought he could've probably beaten the shit out of me.

I tell my boss in a text that night about what happened. For the rest of the time we're there my boss jokingly says he's scared of my Kung Fu moves. The guy never bothered me again though.


This is probably my boss's biggest peeve. Around Christmas time, it starts to super bother me as well. Especially Amazon.

It should be December 2015, like the week of Christmas. We had statues from Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron of the Hulk fighting the Hulkbuster suit. It's a really good looking pair of statues and from a really cool fight from the film. A guy walks in with his girlfriend or wife. He's looking around and he stops at the Hulk vs. Hulkbuster pair. He stares at it for like a good 20 minutes. Then he works up the courage and asks us how much it was. I think it was like $80 for Hulk and $160 for Hulkbuster, so $240 total. This guy then goes, "It's like $180 total on Amazon."

My boss blows a raspberry and immediately responds with, "Then what are you doing here, buy it on Amazon."

The guy then starts saying how he's trying to help us out by buying locally and helping our business, but we know the price. We don't really haggle and we don't price match. Then the guy gets pissed off and says we're ungrateful, grabs his girl by the hand and dashes out.


This is related to the previous one. It's super common during the holidays, but it can happen year round and it upsets me immensely. A couple or a small groups (up to 6) come in and ask us to help them find a game they can play. We ask questions like group size, targeted game length, co-op or competitive, what kind of games they already like just so we can try really try to find a new game they'll enjoy. I remember once both myself and my co-worker were helping a couple whose group mostly played classic games like Scrabble and Monopoly and they were looking to expand. I think we helped them pick up games for an hour. They ended up finding like 4 or so games they thought their group would like, then asked us the price for each one. We gave them the numbers (all were MSRP), then we see them furiously type into their smart phones looking up prices online and then basically say "Thanks! Good bye!"

It felt like such a waste of our effort. We put a lot of care and thought into trying to find them a new fun game experience, but they weren't even grateful for our help because they could get it online for like $5 cheaper. Whenever this happens, I just think about how if our store didn't exist, they wouldn't even know these games existed or where to start. It gets soul crushing sometimes to in effort and see failure. But it's part of the business thanks to the internet.


This happened last summer. A sweet, old granny (must have been late sixties or older) comes into the shop. She has silver curly hair and big glasses and she was a good bit shorter than myself (I'm not tall myself). She felt like a stereotypical grandma. She said she wanted presents for her grandkids and asks if we sold sports cards. We said no, so she asked if we had Pokemon cards. I said yes and walked her over to our Pokemon TCG shelf. While pointing them out, she turns to me and asks, "Are they evil?"

The room fell silent. There was my co-worker and three long time customers/friends of the store in the room hanging out and they made no sounds once they heard this. My eyes widened and I slowly turned my head towards her and I say, "Excuse me?" and she calmly repeats, "Are they evil?"

I was completely baffled by the question. My mind kind of raced to find a truthful answer because we definitely know there's Pokemon that seem evil, like Gengar and Haunter pull pranks on people, Drifloon kidnaps children, and that new thing that kills Corsolas and leave their husks behind. I just say, "No, I don't believe they're inherently evil."

She responded with "So they have the capacity for evil?" And I said, "Don't we all?" She nodded in agreement I guess and picked two decks and walked over to my co-worker at the register, paid and left. She would tell him her daughter-in-law was very religious and she didn't want anything that might offend her. No idea if it ever did. Once she left, we all laughed so hard we all had tears in our eyes. We still jokingly ask each other if some new Pokemon product is evil.

Now it's almost 7AM and I didn't sleep all night. Leave any questions or comments if you'd like. I'll respond and post more stories later.
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Old 06-23-2018, 08:19 AM   #2
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Did you have regulars who treated the store as a hangout but who didn't purchase much (or anything at all)? If so, what was yours and your boss's view on them?

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I feel like a lot of card and/or board game stores I visit will have 2-3 regulars playing games at the tables at any given moment, but that they're usually either playing open-box / demo games or else they've provided their own games from home and are playing those. Are they welcome / seen as good for business / good advertisement? Or are they disliked and considered no better than squatters?

How often did you have to, and in what manner did you, deal with customers who try to run their own money-making operations within your store?

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Example from IRL: the local comic book store, which is also one of the biggest TCG hangouts in the city, had this one guy who "fell to the Dark Side." He used to be a regular FNM attendee, is my understanding, but at some point he started showing up to FNM just to try and buy cards off of ignorant players so he could then turn around and sell them elsewhere for a profit. For example, he approached me personally and offered to buy a Vampire Nocturnus from me. When he did this, the store asked him to leave, which relieved me immensely. I had brought the card to trade away to others, but the guy oozed schemeyness / used-car-salesman aura and just really creeped me out. I had felt preyed upon when he approached me, and I was grateful that the store manager intervened and asked the guy to leave. I have a hard time explaining it from the customer side of things, because a) card stores in general (and this one was no exception) have no problem with players trading cards with other players, and b) I had brought a set of cards to the store with the specific intent of seeing if I could trade them away to others in exchange for cards I'd have better fun with. But from the vendor side of things, it's very easy to see where the store manager was coming from: this is my store, I'm the one paying overhead, you're not, so you can kindly GTFO and stop preying on MY customers to make YOUR money. The guy in question, like I said he was asked to leave that night. My understanding is he may have returned once or twice more ever but after that he vanished completely. Store manager was sad about it, saying he used to be a good member of the community but that at some point it stopped being about the game and started being about the predation profit-making.

Players selling used cards to card shops is a common practice. What about board games? Do you ever get people trying to sell you dime-a-dozen board games like Settlers of Catan or Apples to Apples? Do you ever get people trying to sell you rarer board games? In the case of rarer board games, do you complete the sale? Or do you never purchase used board games for resale?

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No further explanation required. But I have a formatting pattern going so here we go.

How do you compete against Amazon, eBay, and mom & pop outfits with online presences (like Troll and Toad)?

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I understand the frustration you get with people walking in the door and complaining about your prices. But as a consumer, I can hardly blame them for turning down your sale if they can get it cheaper online and the only trade-off is having to wait a couple of days to a week. Usually when I bought cards from my local comic shop, instead of buying them off of eBay, it was because:
  1. it was a gratuity purchase (I had come to spend time with the people, not make a purchase, but then as thanks for their time I would make a small purchase as well)
  2. I was buying boosters (this slowed down the longer I spent with MtG, but even in the final days of me buying cards I would still purchase boosters occasionally)
  3. I was windowshopping for older stuff, something caught my eye, and it was so cheap that the S&H costs alone from an online sale would make the online alternative prohibitively expensive (example: I found a pretty artwork version of a white Instant card that isn't worth putting in a deck but still looked really pretty, it was only 10˘, may as well pay 11˘ to the card shop instead of $1.17 to an eBay vendor for S&H.)
  4. the card shop matched online, so why not go ahead and go with the card shop? (e.g. when I bought my four Azusas way back when, they sold them to me for like $1 or $2, whatever the going rate was at the time, and it was the exact same price quoted by anyone on eBay.)
But in general, when I bought Magic cards in the end (quite a few years before the Chinese counterfeiters changed the game), I would 1) go on eBay 2) to buy singles or playsets of cards. I don't remember how much of it was the card shops not having in stock what I wanted and how much of it was them charging more than the eBay vendors, but either way, supply or pricing, eBay was the way to go and eBay I went.

I think if I were to get back in the game today, I would be a lot more mindful of the counterfeiters. I'm not even sure how you can evaluate an older card's (Zendikar or older) legitimacy without destroying the card outright, but if there are ways to do so, then I would certainly see that as an advantage to purchasing from a card shop locally rather than going online to eBay and playing Russian roulette with your money. If I'm going to purchase bling lands, fetch lands, planeswalkers, or other coveted money cards, I'm sure as hell not going to wind up trading cash for counterfeits.
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Old 06-23-2018, 11:49 AM   #3
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1) Generally speaking, we don't have a ton of squatters. Even if they aren't playing in the night's event, if you're sitting in the building, you'll eventually buy a drink or snack, especially in the latter hours. But players themselves are also part of the hang out experience. The guy playing games against people are still providing entertainment to the other guys. And people who play are competitive, so even if that guy doesn't buy cards to improve their deck, the guy who lost to him will.

2) No one did that here. In NYC, players are pretty well informed. And even if they're younger kids who might not know, the other players nearby always try to make sure trades are fair. Honestly the worst money scenarios would be someone opening an expensive bomb rare or mythic in a draft and they pass on it not knowing it's expensive. In that scenario, the next player reaps the benefits.

3) We don't buy back games. Just because a game is rare, doesn't mean anyone is looking for it.

4) TCG card prices are competitive. We use TCGplayer to set our prices 99% of the time, which is just about the industry standard now.

Usually when people complain about prices, it's like board games or imported figures or D&D books. Some of these are impossible to compete with.

I know D&D 5th Edition Player's Handbook at times is cheaper than wholesale at times, otherwise it's like a few bucks up. It's just not possible to compete with that. Not sure why, but people buy these from us all the time anyway. We're constantly sold out of PHB despite it being MSRP. Why? I don't really know. I assume it different in a case by case scenario.

Most people will buy from local shops because we're helpful in various ways Amazon can't be. My co-worker did a few "New Dungeon Master Lessons" a few months back. We do weekly Adventure Leagues. And people appreciate that.
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Old 06-23-2018, 12:28 PM   #4
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First of all, let me say I'm sorry that the future of your store is looking uncertain. I hope things work out, though I know that's really just an empty platitude at the end of the day.

Anyway, here's my take on the whole 'Amazon' thing: I can't buy something from you, if you don't have it.

(Below, Tate rants salty about the local comic shop.)

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I'm not typically a dick about price-matching. If I shop local, it's because I want to shop local for whatever reason (expediency, supporting local business, whatever) so if I have to pay $5 more for a book, that's fine. I'm willing to eat that extra cost, because of whatever benefit I'm getting from buying from your store.

There's a comic shop really close to my house; maybe 11 blocks from where I live. It's pretty much exactly halfway between my home and the university campus, on the route I walk every day. It's a super convenient location... and I've bought exactly two books (and maybe 8 single issues) from them in the two and a half years I've lived here.

See, they never have what I'm looking for. Part of it is that, I think, they poorly utilize their space. Most of the floor space is filled with shelves of boxes and boxes of old single issues -- we're talking 5, 10, 15 years old. Then there's a wall of current single issues, and a wall of Funko Pops, and then there's like 1/3rd of a wall of trade paperbacks, which I would think would be your best sellers and therefor justify more space than a small corner in the back of the shop, but w/e.

I hate to admit it, but I once left a review on their website that amounted to "You give me no choice but to go to Amazon." Maybe that's a dick move, I don't know. At the time I wrote it, I had just spent an hour in their store looking for literally anything I wanted to buy, and had ultimately left with a book I didn't even really want because, well... I had just spent an hour in the store. I couldn't leave without buying anything, right?

I had gone in looking for Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 0; a book I was not entirely expecting to find, to be fair. They didn't have it, which wasn't surprising. They also didn't have SM/DP Vol. 1, or Vol. 2, or even Vol. 3 -- just Vol. 4. They didn't have X-treme X-men, or Loki: Agent of Asgard (or any Loki books, actually), or Captain America: Winter Soldier. Basically, they didn't have anything I was looking for. So I started browsing. Oh, here's a series that looks interesting... and they have Vol. 3, Vol. 6, and Vol. 11. That's no good. I own Vol. 1 of the New 52 Suicide Squad, which I bought here. Surely they'll have Vol. 2 of that, at least? Nope.

In the end, I bought SM/DP Vol. 4. I hadn't yet t that time read 1-3, but at least it was adjacent to something I wanted to buy.

And you know... I do sort of get it. You can't stock more than what you can reasonably expect people to buy. Maybe people aren't actually buying trade paperbacks, or maybe they are... and they're just going to Amazon. Maybe those crates and crates of ancient single issues that I'm so certain is a poor use of space are really where the money is really at. That's the kind of shit people aren't going to find as readily on Amazon, and at $1 a pop they're probably a hot commodity for the children, and the poors like me. Heck, I've bought a few single issues from those boxes.

I don't know. I just know I rarely go in anymore because I don't want to wind up in a position where my options are leave without buying anything, or buying something I don't want, because they don't have what I want.




If I had to ask a question, I guess it would be this: as a consumer, am I dick if I leave the store without buying anything? I always feel like a dick. When FCBD rolled around this year, I was broke as a joke, so I went in, got my free comics, and left without spending any money... and I felt bad.
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Last edited by 134; 06-23-2018 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 06-23-2018, 09:02 PM   #5
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I didn't speak about comics personally because this was one of the more shocking things I learned about the hobby shop industry. We actually dropped the entire comic section, which was heartbreaking because my boss is a huge comic fan, but the business end of comics is actually really fucking messed up since the 90s.

Basically, distribution of comics is entirely handled by a single company. Yes, a monopoly controls the distribution of all English language comics. DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, whoever- they're all handled by Diamond Distribution. Why? Because the comic industry bubble burst and they were the only one who didn't close down. No one has since risen up to challenge them nor do I think anyone ever will. This has lead to a lot of shady shit from them. And if you don't like it, there's literally no one else to turn to.

The other issues with comics is the terrible returns. Cover price will be anywhere from $2.99 to like $5.99, but after shipping and everything, a store probably makes like $0.50 to $1.00 per issue they sell. And if it doesn't sell, it really becomes a burden as the dead stock sitting on the shelves. And it's not like we only need to order a few issues each time. Every week was a new issue from a different hero between the big publishers. Even if we only got like 3 copies each, that's like maybe 48 issues a month. And that gets costly.

We started with comics and we even had several guys who would come in and say "I want all issues of this upcoming event each week it comes out," and we'd be ecstatic about it. We'd even give them a discount of like 15% since they were continuing customers (which if you remember the returns, it meant we were making like nickels per issue) and because my boss loved comics and wanted more comic customers.

The problem was when these guys suddenly disappeared. We had their phone numbers and we'd usually give them a call if they didn't come and tell them how many comics were waiting for them at the end of each month. We understood sometimes you might not want to make a trip every week. But when it goes like 3 or 4 months with no response, instantly being sent to voice man, and a huge backlog of comics now sitting on their account. A ton of money we dumped down and no one is coming to pick up. We even said if they ever wanted to stop, just let us know. No one ever spoke back to us about it. They didn't even finish those story arcs. And now we several boxes of comics we can't really sell.

The other issue with comics is timing. If a new Spider-Man is coming out next week, stores needed to have had ordered it like three months ago. And people don't tell us they want it three months in advance. They usually only remember maybe the week prior or the day of release. And it's hard to gauge if those stories will be liked by the time they come out. Details aren't really hinted or revealed until maybe a month prior when hype is being spun. It's almost impossible to know if a store should order conservatively or aggressively because we know just about the same information as the consumer, except we need to know LONG before you do.

And because of poor returns, the long period between ordering and releasing, and a lot of dead money we can't really use if they don't sell, my boss would always order conservatively up until we pretty much stopped ordering in total.

And here's the dumbest part. When we said we were halting our orders for a period with Diamond Distribution, they told us we owed them money. And a lot. But the thing is, Diamond would always do Cash On Delivery with our orders, so that basically means we paid everything up front. So how do we have a debt with them? They basically threatened to call debt collection on us, so we never called them again after that. They never did anything to pursue the supposed debt and we stopped carrying comics. And literally the moment we stopped spending money on comics, we stopped being in the negative.

I don't know what it's like at your local hobby shop, but I can't imagine they had much of a different experience that we had.

Now I'm reminded of a weird comic book encounter while working for the shop.


When we originally opened, we didn't open on Mondays until late. Like 2PM in the afternoon. Most other days we did open at noon. Anyway, like 10AM this guy shows up and sees the place is closed. Instead of coming back at an appropriate time, he just went around the neighborhood and knocking on doors and asking when we opened. Like asking the residents. He was so annoying, the landlord ended up calling us when one of his tenants was complained about him. Apparently he was ranting about what an inconvenience it was that he drove all the way out there and we weren't opening the doors for him. Note that this guy didn't tell us he was coming and we had no idea who he was.

Later in the week, it's my shift. The guy comes back after I've already opened. We didn't know he was coming again. He comes in, like maybe 50 year old white guy in weird short-shorts, a fanny pack, and a sleeveless tee with his elderly mother who looks a mess, like she was clearly rushed based on your disheveled lipstick. He brings a huge box of comics and he says he has an appointment for us to buy comics from him. I literally knew nothing of it, my boss didn't give me any heads up about it. I call my boss and he tells me it wasn't an appointment, rather he harassed our neighbors prior in the week and I guess someone told him a random time and day to show up and now here he is.

My boss pretty much cancelled his plans with his new baby daughter and drove over to the store to see what this was about.

Meanwhile, at the store, two of our regulars (Let's call them P and D) come in and are kind of weirded out, but they sit down at our table to prepare a board game (they did have a scheduled meetup with people). The weirdo starts bragging about his collection. He talks about a lot of random issue numbers for random Marvel and DC heroes. The numbers literally mean nothing to us. It's like saying you own issue 792 of Xena Warrior Princess. Fuck if I know why it's important.

And then he brings up that he has a special limited edition promotional issue of Spawn sold only at FYI (if you remember that store) to coincide with the Spawn film release back in 1997. That's when D decides to fuck with him. He just shouts, "I'll give you a dollar for it." The guy is livid! He keeps saying that there's no way that the price can be that low for such a rare comic. D repeats, "I'll give you a dollar."

Now, you might hear special and limited edition and promotional and only sold at FYI and think this might be something fancy. It's not. Like I don't think anyone really cares about getting it or anything. D was kind of being a dick, but he was trying to show that no one really wants to buy something like that and despite its low supply, it has no demand for it either.

My boss finally comes in. He does a bit of a meet and greet. They chat a bit. Then he starts looking through his collection. It's almost all 90s crap. When the comic book bubble was growing and we would get like six covers for every issue and it was a collector's nightmare because there was no rarity to any of them. He has a fairly terrible collection. But then he spots a few gems here and there. The one I remember was Teen Titans vs. X-Men, which is fairly weird mixup and has some value.

My boss starts tallying up some prices and telling him which ones he's willing to buy when Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody starts playing on the radio. Then he shouts across the store, "Yo Ma! Do you know this guy? Queen! He was a queer! He liked to fuck men. Died of AIDS! Friggin' tragedy!"

We all stop. Dead silence. He then turns to my boss and says, "Can you believe that? A popstar like that could have any pussy he wants, and he decides to fuck dudes!"

My boss calmly responds with, "Maybe he was happier that way."

The guy dejects with a, "Impossible. That's insane."

This is the moment when my boss slashed down his offering prices to like abysmally low. The guy fights the numbers, but my boss kind of explains we need to sell the comic too and we need to make a profit and doing the whole Pawn Stars shtick. Truthfully, he didn't like his homophobic attitude and pretty much rejects like 90% of the stuff he brought as worthless to us. The guy gives in and sells it to us for pretty much pennies.

We kind of knew right from the start he knew nothing about the collector's market due to his collection of mostly trash, but the fact that he thought he was sitting on a gold mine was probably the bigger hint. Was is wrong to cheat him out of some money? Probably. But he should have known better if he was a real collector. And his whole attitude and insane personality, we really never gave it much thought.

Then finally, he leaves and we kind of breath a sigh of relief. My boss says he wants to get home to his family and walks over to his car. That's when we see the guy run over to him as he's about to enter his car. He starts dropping questions. We can't hear it from the shop, but everyone it watching from the window. My boss gets into his car and pretty much drives away and the guy walks off. I called him and the guy apparently started asking him what he planned to do for the rest of the day and ask oddly invasive questions and he just told him he had to go. We never saw that guy again. I hope no one ever has to deal with him either.

And TBH, I think $1 is too much for that special limited edition promotion Spawn comic from FYI.

Last edited by Loki; 06-23-2018 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 06-23-2018, 09:14 PM   #6
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Thank you for the insight on comic distribution. That does put some things into perspective. The entire wall devoted to Funkos makes a lot more sense now -- I expect those have much better returns. Bearing this in mind, I think I'll make better effort in the future to buy at my local store.

A question: I recently found out that my store will order you a copy of a trade paperback if they don't carry it. If I asked my store to do this form me, would the value of my patronage outweigh the inconvenience to them, or would I really be more trouble than I'm worth at that point?
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Old 06-23-2018, 09:15 PM   #7
Lady Kuno
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Story time with uncle Loki is the fucking best. Sorry about the work situation.
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Old 06-23-2018, 09:28 PM   #8
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Oddly enough, trade paperbacks aren't handled or rather exclusively handled by Diamond. I think those end up being direct orders from the publisher, but I could be wrong. We haven't ordered anything comic related in over a year.

This ultimately depends on things like shipping. Most of the time a store can get a discount or free shipping if they order enough trades, so if you want only 1, it might be a while before you see it come in because the shipping fees might negate the profits and they'll wait for more orders to come in before they make it. If you want like 6 different titles or something, it'd probably be a lot easier for them to handle it. I personally don't know for sure though.

Also, walking into a store and not buying anything isn't usually a problem in my eyes. Walk in, look around, leave- whatever. Nothing off my back. It's when people ask the staff for help and we waste a lot of time and give detailed explanations and talk about everything they want to know, then purchase nothing. Like they took full advantage of our knowledge and we take into account all their needs and variables to give really good suggestions and they can't even make a single purchase. Like the $5 cheaper on Amazon outweighed the hour of my life I spent talking to you and trying to help you find the perfect game for your group.

And this isn't the same as if we didn't have the item they want. If they come in looking for something and we don't have it, that sucks, but I don't care if you didn't buy anything. We didn't have what you wanted. It's perfectly within your right to not buy anything. But when we do find what your want and waste a long time helping you, that's when it's heartbreaking that we can't seal the deal.
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Old 06-23-2018, 11:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady Kuno View Post
Story time with uncle Loki is the fucking best.
Hear, hear!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki View Post
I don't know what it's like at your local hobby shop, but I can't imagine they had much of a different experience that we had.
I haven't been back in a long time, so I don't know. The name of their outfit has "Comics" in the title, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have to carry on purchasing new comics from Diamond if they no longer want to. I'm sure they could convert to a used-comics-and-also-TCG store or even a purely TCG store if they wanted to.

From the vendor side of things: I don't think it's an accident that nearly every comic book shop dabbles in other wares as well, be they TCGs, tabletops, RPGs, what have you.

From the content creator side of things: this is exactly why Marvel cashed in their chips when they did (late '90s) as they did (rummage sale to Fox, Sony, and Disney of all their major properties).
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Old 06-27-2018, 05:46 PM   #10
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I spilled a drink on my keyboard and my spacebar has been wonky. But here's some more stories.


This happened in our first year at our original location. About 4 or so months in, there was a really disgustingly bad storm and when we came in, we had no power. We thought it was because of the storm or whatnot, but it was pretty perplexing. The owner at the time was renting the attached apartment and he still had power. Either way, we called the power company and they told us they were swamped with calls about people losing power and they were notified and would eventually get to us.

We end up jury rigging extension cables from the apartment into the shop and we run on lamps and nonsense. Two weeks pass and we still don't have power. We start calling daily and eventually we get a response. Apparently our power wasn't off because of any damage from the storm, but because there's a debt linked to us. We've only been around for 4 months and we don't use a ton of power (mostly lights, one laptop, and one TV).

Turns out, the previous tenants of the shop was a beauty salon. They had a tanning bed, hair dryers, all kinds of power hungry shit. And when they shut down, they didn't pay their bill. A bill that was in the tens of thousands!

This is when we start a long argument with the power company to prove that we're a completely different business and their debt isn't ours. Did the 2 year gap from their closure to our opening not clue them in? The different name on the business. The fact that we paid the bill.

Eventually they did turn it back on, but that was literally a month of darkness. Thankfully, it was like May, so it wasn't too dark during the days.


Also from early on. A guy walked in and asked if we carried the "My Little Pony" TCG. My boss said, "No, we don't have it but..."

He's immediately cut off and the guy responds, "I'm sick of this bias against Bronies! I could take a shit on your floor right now and how stupid would you feel for upsetting one of us."

My boss would have said, "If enough people show interest, we will consider stocking up on it," instead he has to respond with, "You take a shit on my floor and I'll have you eat it! Now get the fuck out!"

My boss isn't a huge guy, but he was definitely bigger than that Brony. Once that guy left, it immediately became store policy to buy nothing MLP.


About 7-8 months into the business, we finally got approved by Wizards of the Coast to host larger scale MTG events. WotC goes through a huge screening process as they don't like online only retailers and makes stores jump through hoops to actually get these events. So we finally make, Core, which is the lowest official tier, but we get to run events like new set prereleases and such.

It's the first one, all the guys have been around for a while, so they're all excited. We decide to do the midnight prelease since at the time, our closest competitor didn't run a midnight event. Midnight, I start handing out kits. But apparently, Verizon wireless time is a minute ahead of Sprint (I've learned this though Pokemon GO actually), so the Wizards of the Coast spy- Yes, they sent a spy to make sure everything went correctly, tagged us for handing stuff out early.

Like a week later we get an email about it. They tell us to not do that again. From then on, we start several minutes late. Sometimes I don't watch the clock, sometimes I do it on purpose. And we always watch for spies. It's really the dumbest thing ever.

It wouldn't be for another few years, but the Friday before Christmas, some guys decided to bring some liquor and egg nog for some MTG drinking games. They were playing casual non-sanctioned, non-tournament event, but some asshole spy decided to report us. My boss wasn't upset at me for allowing it, but more upset that Wizards of the Coast is trying to tell us how to run the business. And it continues...


News of a judge was once convicted of pedophilia breaks out and many in the community are upset. It's very understandable that players should feel like they're not wholly safe when the person in question was caught with pictures of child pornography less than a month after he judged a major event.

To make matters worse, a somewhat famous Magic Cosplayer announces she is retiring from cosplay because she has been cyberbullied by a MTG Youtuber and shit starts to really hit the fan. People start talking about how women get bullied at their LGS and that's why we don't see more women win Grand Prix and Pro Tours. Women are oppressed and the patriarchy of male gaming is destroying diversity. Yada-yada-yada...

WotC demands that every store is required to run background checks on all their employees. This isn't entirely unheard of, as Pokemon does this with their TCG, but Pokemon also pays for the background check and do it long before they start letting you do tournaments with them.

All the LGS pretty much go into huge debate. Many stores in rural/suburban areas kind of cave in. They can't afford to lose their good standing with WotC with megastores like Walmart and Target killing their market. Urban stores pretty much tell WotC to mind their own business. How independent stores run their operation really isn't up to WotC. They simply supply the product, we well it. These arguments rage on for a while.

Of coarse everyone cares about everyone feeling safe, but that doesn't give WotC the right to enforce their policies on us. In the end, WotC repeals the call for background checks and simply asks everyone sign a form stating their employees aren't pedophiles and post a poster about how all our stores are about fair play and no bullying.

Now, I can't say their has been absolutely no bullying in the MTG scene, but I do think there is a difference between shit talking and bullying. And we (the regular gamers of the store) have talked about it on at least a few occasions. In fact, my favorite was when one of our guys was talking to a younger, newer player (he was like 12 at the time). He explained, "We all like sound like we're being mean to each other, but we're actually just joking around. You know your real friends will be brutally honest with you and we all tell it like it is. If that's a bad move, we call you out on it so you learn next time."

Meanwhile, I still don't know if WotC runs background checks on their judges. I don't even really know how LGS got involved since it was a judge and an online Youtuber who caused all the problems. Also, the cosplayer later on stated she was starting a new job as a nurse anyway, so she wouldn't have time for cosplay. The Youtuber stated he was being bullied just because she wanted to find an excuse to leave cosplay. I don't know of validity of their accusation.
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Old 06-27-2018, 07:51 PM   #11
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The midnight release thing is rather petty. I think I understand the possible intents behind it, but each has its problems.
1) If you release early, someone at your event could spoil the surprise for someone somewhere else that unveiled the product a minute later. But there's a problem with this: timezones. It's not as if NYC releases at midnight while Chicago releases at 11pm and Los Angeles releases at 9. Everyone's releasing at midnight. Which means that East Coasters are always going to be able to spoil West Coasters by hours. Not to mention that in this day and age, aren't the entire contents of the expansion revealed ahead of time by WotC anyway!? There's nothing to spoil! Nothing that hasn't already been spoiled by Wizards!

2) If you release early, and you become known for releasing early, you'll draw business away from other stores towards yours. This is an unfair business practice. The problem is, there's no meaningful difference to attending an 11:59 release and attending a midnight release when the two stores are more than one minute's transit apart. And that's generally going to be the case. While it's certainly possible that players might preference your store over another if they learned of your early releasing habits, chances are much better that they're going to stick with the 00:00 release five minutes from where they live vs. the 23:59 release at your store ten minutes from where they live. If you'd been releasing the product an hour earlier than allowed, then sure, I'd see Wizards' point. But releasing it a minute early, even on purpose, I don't think significantly impacts other vendors.
The electric one is pretty shitty. No one wants to play card games in a room with so much heat.

I feel like if we made a Venn diagram of MLP fans and of Rick & Morty fans, there would be an overlap in the middle where we'd find the dysfunctional human beings that ruined each franchise for its other fans.
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Old 06-28-2018, 11:19 AM   #12
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No real heat late April to early May, the problem was no one could read their cards.
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Old 06-28-2018, 11:33 AM   #13
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So

Yugioh? What were your shop's experience with it, if any? Were you just a Magic shop in the TCG aspect?
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Old 06-28-2018, 11:25 PM   #14
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Yugioh was always something we wanted to grow, but it never did. We had a lot of issues with Yugioh in various ways. The area where the store was located was pretty much dominated by another store that's both well established and had free tournaments and a huge selection of singles.

We also didn't have an employee that specialized in Yugioh. While we did have a judge, the judge himself was kind of a bum and didn't himself like to buy cards, so he never knew prices or what upcoming cards would be meta relevant or possibly worth a lot. We didn't want to hire him because he literally had no sales skills (or any job skills) and was the big stereotype of the nerd living in mom's basement.

And when we did get tournaments started, the players we got were basically the same. Poor guys who were super cheap and never wanted to buy cards or packs. They're probably the closest to leeches that we had when it came to our player base between all the types of games we had. And they complained a lot.

My boss also always heard stories of terrible Yugioh players over on retailer websites. One that horrified me involved a store that had a weird urine smell in their gaming area. After almost a year, the store owner ended up hiring a plumber to look for a leak in their pipes. After tearing apart walls and floors, found no leaks, but the stink persisted. Eventually someone told the owner that one of the regular players was too lazy to walk to the bathroom and would just pee in the corner. No one thought to tell him as it happened and didn't say anything until after he has spent hundreds both tearing apart and rebuilding the room. The guy ended up never carrying Yugioh again and banning all the Yugioh players for life.

Magic is much easier to get sales with thanks to limited format like draft. We can always get people to buy packs even if the set doesn't necessarily have cards they want. It literally kept the store afloat during several bad months over the coarse of the many years I worked there. It was like easy consistent money. And sometimes we would get huge spikes of money if a set was good. There's definitely been some bad ones too though that lead to shaky months.
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Old 06-29-2018, 01:43 PM   #15
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Yeah that all makes sense although I don't personally feel like the Yugioh and Magic demographics are really too different to be scared about one but not the other.

Should have hired me when you had the chance :p
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Old 07-01-2018, 11:46 AM   #16
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Yugioh definitely has a different demographic from magic here with vastly different mentalities and habits. I'll also say Yugioh players tend to start much younger than Magic thanks to the anime.
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