Monday, March 1, 2010
My Life With Comic Books: Part # 56
MY LIFE WITH COMIC BOOKS: THE HISTORY OF A COMIC SHOP - Part 56
Our lives were changed when Debbie Traylor died in October of 1988. My wife, Mal, lost her best friend. My old friend, Allan Traylor had lost his wife and he now had the difficult job of raising his five-year old son, Peter. Several people pitched in to help take care of Peter so that Allan could return to his job. Mal offered to take care of Peter after school as often as possible. Our children, Adam and Cassandra, loved Peter and they got along great.
Losing Debbie changed my life too. As she was struggling with cancer many of us were praying for her full recovery but as she got sicker it appeared as if our prayers were not being answered. I had been taught that if we’d pray for things that God would “answer” our prayers. With Debbie’s death I decided that God is “in control” and that my real prayer should be for the desire and ability to trust that our Creator loves us and has a plan for our lives. I no longer feel the need to pray for the same thing over and over again. I believe that my prayer is heard if I pray sincerely for something. God “gets it” the first time. The answer to our prayers just may not be the answer we were hoping for.
Allan eventually found love again and married a great woman named Pascale and they raised Peter and Pascale’s two children, Monica and Frank. Pascale was part of a large, close family and we all found it difficult to schedule much social time together. We still keep in touch and we consider them as good friends but it’s not the same as spending time together.
One day in 1988, an old friend, Don Phelps, came out to my store to sell me an old comic book. It was the first issue of Captain America from 1941 and it was in beautiful, near mint condition. It was valued at about $5000.00 and Don sold it to me for $4200.00. I was willing to pay that high a percentage for it because I had a good feeling that our “big-city newspaper” would be interested in writing a story about a our local comic book store paying “crazy” money for a comic book. I was right. The newspaper ran a full-page story about me, the store, and about old comic books in general. They even included a large photo of me holding the Captain America #1. Newspaper readers tend to notice and read articles that have pictures included. As I had hoped, this article generated a lot of interest in the local community. We got dozens of phone calls from people who had old comic books and other collectibles that they wanted to sell to us and we were happy to purchase them all. That’s how we stay in business. We need to constantly replenish our inventory of older collectibles.
I decided to price this comic book at $7,000.00. I also knew that I could eventually sell the copy of Captain America #1 for at least as much as I paid for it so I knew it would all work out great. Surprisingly, it took almost six months for me to find a collector willing to buy this comic book from me for the $7,000.00. This exact same copy sold for an astounding $150,000.00 in 2003. Even though I only made $2800.00 on the comic book when I originally sold it, the value of the new publicity for the store is worth many thousands of dollars. I bought many collections of toys and comic books that I’ve sold at a profit because of the article and I’ve gained dozens of new regular collectors and customers who spend money at my store every month. It’s hard to place an accurate value on my purchase and marketing of the Captain America #1 but I’m guessing that it far exceeds the $150,000.00 sale price of the comic book in today’s market.
Next chapter: My customers heard it through the grapevine.