Tuesday, March 16, 2010
My Life With Comic Books: Part # 65
MY LIFE WITH COMIC BOOKS: THE HISTORY OF A COMIC SHOP - Part 65
I arrived at my store early on the Saturday that I was going to give away the five hundred free tickets to our private showing of the new Batman movie. My store doesn’t open until ten o’clock but I knew that I wanted to be there around seven o’clock to be sure that the store was organized enough in case there was a good sized crowd of people. I had no idea what to expect. By seven o’clock there were about one hundred people waiting in a line for my store to open! The first person had arrived at four o’clock in the morning! Everyone seemed to be enjoying passing the time by talking about comic books and the excitement and anticipation about the Batman movie was growing. I explained to the people in line that I couldn’t begin to give the tickets away until the store opened at ten o’clock but nobody seemed to mind waiting.
By the time that my employee, Pat Donley, got to the store we had about three hundred people waiting in line. My wife, Mal, and my two children, Adam and Cassandra, arrived at just about ten o’clock and by that time we had almost five hundred people in line.
I was giving the tickets away as a “Thank You” for my loyal customers, friends, and Worcester residents, so making a lot of money in return was not my intention. As it turned out though, my “gift” was returned to me in huge sales. I thought that most of the people in line would come into the store to get their free ticket and then they’d leave but I was wrong. Most of the people stayed and shopped. Many bought Batman related merchandise but by the end of the day I was surprised to see that we had sold a bunch of every product line that we carried. It was a fun-filled day for me at the store. Almost every customer was in a good mood and the excitement was building for next week’s special screening of Batman. Our small store was jam-packed with so many people that we had to have some customers wait outside until there was room for them to enter. After eight hours of “ringing the cash register” my pointer finger was sore. (For some reason, cash register manufacturers put a small raised bump on the #5 key and it actually made my finger hurt because of the heavy use!) But I certainly wasn’t going to complain about this situation.
The next Saturday was the big day. Pat Donley stayed at the store because we were open for business at the same time that we would be showing the movie. I arrived at the downtown Showcase Cinema location and paced the floor while I waited for the courier to bring the film from the other Showcase theater. In the meantime I greeted many of my customers as they entered the lobby and directed them to our reserved theater. My mother and father sat with Mal, but we had decided that our two children were too young to see this movie. Adam wasn’t happy with us but Mal and I were concerned about the dark, evil, somber tone of the movie at that time in his young life. He was only ten years old. He’d get to see it a couple of years later. Cassandra was only five years old and she didn’t seem to mind missing this movie.
The courier finally showed up fifteen minutes before “show-time” and we actually started the movie right on time. The crowd loved the movie. They cheered and clapped when Batman first appeared on-screen. The movie was visually exciting and the soundtrack was dynamic. Tim Burton did an amazing job of entertaining both young and old. He even made it seem okay that Michael Keaton was Batman. My father said it reminded him of the old-time movie serials and the teen-agers thought it was cool. It was definitely a success. It was a lot of fun to see this movie with just a room full of friends. As the film ended I made sure I was at the exit of the theater to thank each and every person for attending our showing. I also invited everyone to comeback to my store for a “Batman party” where we had a huge Batman cake, soda, and lots of snacks.
I was the last person to leave the theater and by the time I got back to my store the whole store was packed with people. Everyone seemed to have a fun time and my store had a record-breaking sales day. This special movie showing cost me a few thousand dollars but the huge sales on both Saturdays, the great stories in the local newspapers about our store, and the goodwill generated by this event made it successful beyond my expectations.
Next Chapter: Hank Stolz and the Same Bat Channel comic shop.