One of our favourite sites on the web is Bleeding Cool. Rich Johnston has been around since the dawn of the internet (originally posting on Usenet back in the early 90’s), and has never been one to back away from controversy. This week he posted a column from Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics, who writes “A Comic Store in your Future”.
Rod’s column was on pull boxes (what we call subscriptions), and the realities of the comic store.
A lot of people don’t know that comic stores have to pay for all stock within 7 days of it arriving. Shops get a 35-50% discount (depending on the publisher and the product). Items are non-returnable so the full risk is on the store.
More importantly, a lot of a store’s cash flow is sitting, unsold, in people’s pull boxes. When people eventually decide not to pick up those comics, it leaves a store sitting on a bunch of product they’ve paid for, that often can’t be sold.
For most shops when you factor in overhead of keeping the store running, they have to sell three units for every unsold unit (if you have 1 extra copy of Amazing Spider-Man, you need to sell 3 units to break even), and all profit is funnelled back into product.
It doesn’t take a lot for things to quickly spiral out of control. 2017 has been particularly brutal for comic stores. A combination of lower selling titles, and an unexpected exodus of customers has resulted in a ton of high profile comic stores closing their doors.
This article is on the importance of pull files, and the reality of what happens at your comic shop. We really enjoyed it, and highly recommend you give it a read.
There have been various stories about how comic stores have pull boxes; how people suddenly without any warning abandon their pull boxes sticking the store with comics. I’ve been through it also, of course. Trying to call people and leaving messages and still getting blown off. Even talking to people on the phone about their pull box and being told “Yeah, I still want those comics! I will be in next week.” And then next week the same story. Why people simply don’t say, “No, I am not going to get those comics,” I do not know.