Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 84

Cast of Characters:
Paul: age 37
Mal: my wife
Brian: an artist and my friend


Now that we had moved our entire store into our huge new location on Park Avenue in Worcester, we had an enormous amount of work to do to set up this store properly. In our old location, we only had about 1800 square feet of retail space so we kept a maximum of three of each back issue comic book out on display at any one time. We would keep track of every comic book we sold and then we’d pull out replacement copies from our backroom full of old issues and then we’d put these into our retail stock. This process took so much time and cost me so much in employee salaries that I decided to change this procedure at my new location. Since we now had more space in this building than we thought we’d ever be able to fill we decided to put every comic book back issue out on display in the main retail area. This system would cut labor costs for me because there would be no restocking costs. This meant that we had as many as one hundred copies of the same comic book available at any one time. This amazed a lot of collectors because they didn’t realize how big my inventory had gotten but now they could see the whole inventory at once. While this created quite an excitement with our customers, I began to notice that this new system slowed the sales of some back issues that we had dozens of copies of because the customer now perceived that there was no urgent need to buy these comic books. There seemed to be plenty of them available to buy some other day. Even though this wasn’t smart we decided to leave it this way because we needed to make it look as though we had a lot of product available in this larger store.

At the same time that my employees and I were attempting to rearrange things in the new store we also had to keep our normal business activities going. Business was great and it was increasing each week as we bought more products to offer to our customers. We also noticed that more women were coming into the new store because this new location was in a much safer neighborhood. It was nice to have entire families shopping at our store now. We continued to move stuff around to make it more appealing to non-collectors and our increases in sales indicated that we were making the right decisions.

All of this extra work left me little time to work with Brian on our ongoing project of “Classic Toys Trading Cards.” We had hoped to have this project finished by now but I just couldn’t get motivated to work on these cards and this frustrated Brian. We had been friends for years now and we had always gotten along but this situation was getting tense and it came to a “head” one day when we were attempting to photograph some collectible toys in one of the unheated storage rooms of my new store. Brian explained how much he wanted to finish these cards and he was upset that I wasn’t willing to set aside the time necessary to complete this project. He pointed out that he was also very busy with his full-time job as a teacher but he was willing to work hard to finish these cards. After a brief and angry exchange, we agreed to work together to get the cards ready to send to our printer. We were only mad for a short time once we got everything “out in the open.”

While we waited for the last batch of photographs to be developed, we began to design the layout for the cards. We wanted these to look “Classic” so we went to a wallpaper store and spent hours looking through books of wallpaper until we found one that looked like marble. This would be used as our border on all of the trading cards. We had intended to actually cut the wallpaper to the size of our trading card and we’d glue the developed photographs onto it but my old friend, Mark Marderosian, who now had access to a computer, thankfully helped us.

I had worked with Mark a few years earlier when I published his comic book, “Delta Tenn,” and he was always friendly, talented, and professional. He offered to design our clever “retro” logo for our “Classic Toys Trading Cards” and he scanned all of our photos and the wallpaper border into his computer. Mark ended up doing far more than he ever anticipated and this project would not have been as professional if he hadn’t been involved.

Brian and I photographed lots of interesting toys for this set of trading cards and most of them were from our own personal collections but we did get some help from a few other collectors who had items that we didn’t. Eventually we selected sixty-five collectible toys to feature in our set. The toys we selected included: Captain Action, Robby The Robot, The Man From Uncle Napoleon Solo Gun Set, Aurora monster model kits, Marx playsets, Barbie, Corgi cars, Star Trek action figures, The Beatle’s Remco Dolls, GI Joe, View-Master sets, Colorforms, lunchboxes, the Lost In Space game, Easy Bake Oven, the Mouse Trap Game, Star Wars toys, Major Matt Mason, Mr. Potato Head, James Bond items, Slinky, and many more!

We decided to design the backs of the cards to be an informational price guide so we researched the current values of all of the toys that we featured. We had fun writing some of these and many contain our “trademarked” sarcastic wit. All that was left to do was to get these cards manufactured.

Next chapter: The Death of Superman!

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