Monday, December 21, 2009

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 14


In 1978, while I was working for Jay Maybruck at Sparkle City Comics, I learned quite a bit about business. I learned how important it is to be able to make quick decisions. If you are faster at making decisions than your competition, you’ll frequently be the winner of collections of old and valuable comic books. If you respond to your customer’s needs faster than your competition, you’ll also sell more old comic books. At Sparkle City Comics we did both.

I also learned that it was important to have a lot of available money to buy collections of old comic books because you never knew when a great collection would become available. There were many times that we ended up buying massive collections simply because we were the only dealers who had the cash necessary to complete the purchase.

I remember one day, while we were at our Ohio office, we received a phone call from a man in Kansas City. He explained that he had a huge collection of comic books from the 1950’s and early 1960’s he wanted to sell. Jay and I immediately made arrangements to meet with this man at his home to evaluate his collection. We asked him to describe the condition of the comics and to give us a list of some of the more valuable books he had. We determined, based on his descriptions, that we were very interested in buying the entire collection, jumped into Jay’s car and drove twelve hours to see it. It turned out that this man didn’t understand how to determine the accurate condition of his comic books. Many of them were in beat-up condition. Some had the covers missing.

Jay was furious with this guy but he managed to stay composed until we got outside. Jay had quite a bad temper at times and he wanted to make this guy “pay” for wasting our time. It took a lot of effort for me to calm Jay down. We decided to stay in Kansas City overnight and we’d check out some of the local comic book stores in the area. We went to Clint’s Books and spent thousands of dollars buying up great old comics that we knew were underpriced. At least our long trip wasn’t completely wasted.

In our business relationship, I was the “good cop” and Jay was the “bad cop”. Jay was usually seen as the tough, all-business guy, while I enjoyed the role of the easy-going guy. As a team, we were very successful. At almost every comic book convention, our sales would be at least $20,000.00. Our best show was the big Chicago Comic Convention. We arrived for the three-day show with two vans and one station wagon full of comic books. We had a great first day of sales. At the end of the first day a dealer from Minneapolis offered to buy our whole display if we’d give him 65% off of the sticker price. For some reason, Jay decided to accept his offer. We ended up leaving the show with a briefcase filled with $33,000.00 in cash. Jay had sold all of the comic books that he had brought to the show but he still had a great inventory back in Ohio.

Jay surprised me with an offer to become an equal partner with him from that day on. I would inherit half of his inventory in exchange for my abilities and knowledge. This arrangement wouldn’t last much longer.

Next chapter: We miss our friends and relatives.

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