Monday, May 3, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 89

Cast of Characters:
Paul: age 38
Mal: my wife


We had booked Davy Jones of The Monkees to make an appearance at our store in Worcester, Massachusetts in September of 1993. Davy’s manager agreed that he would receive a “lump sum” fee and Davy would be responsible for all of his own travel expenses. Davy would also agree to sign free autographs for any visitors. We wanted to be sure that Davy was safe so we hired a Worcester police officer as security for this event. We wanted this special event to be “perfect” and we tried to anticipate every possible problem that could come up. Our store had arranged to have many guests before but this would be the highest expenditure we ever had for an in-store event so I wanted it to seem really special for my customers.

We printed thousands of “flyers” to give to everyone who visited our store in the three months prior to Davy’s visit and we encouraged all of our employees to be sure to verbally advertise this appearance. We sent out the flyers to everyone on our huge mailing list and ran our newly created television commercial on cable television channels for a thirteen-week period before the September event. I was excited about the opportunity to meet one of my favorite childhood performers. I wanted my customers (and any new visitors to my store) to have the opportunity to get a personal autograph from Davy Jones without having to pay for it. But I wouldn’t mind making a bit of money on this event if I could figure out some way to do it.

Davy’s manager would get me some copies of the two different books that Davy had written about his days as a “Monkee” that I could sell. I ordered two full cases (forty copies) of one book and twenty copies of the other at a wholesale price of fifty percent off of retail price. Agreeing to purchase these on a non-returnable basis, I wanted to be sure that I didn’t order too many copies. I also got lucky because a good customer of mine had five different vintage photographs of The Monkees from the 1960’s that he offered to allow me to copy so that I’d have something interesting for Davy to sign for my customers. A local printer reproduced five hundred of each of the 8 by 10 photos on a glossy paper at a very low price. The possibility that I would sell that many photos was low but the cost was reasonable and, just in case I ended up with a big crowd, there would be something there for them to get signed. I also knew many people might bring items from their own collections to get autographed.

We contacted the local cable news station and they agreed to do a small news segment about Davy’s appearance. Two of the larger newspapers also expressed interest in covering the event. I was satisfied that we were “covering all of the bases” as far as publicity goes but the almost complete lack of interest on the part of my loyal customer base surprised us all. We would try to remind every customer about the upcoming appearance and most of them would just shrug and say, “Yeah, I’m not a fan of The Monkees.” We’d try to get them interested by reminding them that he is a famous celebrity and he would be signing FREE autographs but as the day got closer we all began to believe that we’d really made a mistake.

A week before the appearance Davy’s manager called to inform us that Davy had a “gig” in New York City that wouldn’t get over until almost one o’clock in the morning on the day he was supposed to be at my store. By the time his concert was over he’d be exhausted and he’d still have a five-hour drive from New York to Worcester, Massachusetts. By the time Davy and his road manager checked into the local hotel there would be less than two hours for him to get some rest before I was to pick him up to bring him to my store. I certainly wasn’t happy with this new development. I hate surprises, especially when the financial risk was so high. I enjoyed being in complete control of my situations and this was ruining our careful plans.

Next chapter: Even the weather is against us!

Picture: A young Davy Jones of The Monkees.

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