Friday, October 15, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 159

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 45
Mal Howley: age 46
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 16


While living in New Hampshire in the fall of 2000, I realized there had never been a good comic book store in the area and it occurred to me that there might be some nice, undiscovered comics and collectibles stored in the attics and basements of some of the older homes here. I met with the manager of a nearby shopping mall to discuss the possibility of renting out some space in the center of the mall, explaining that I didn’t want to sell anything there. I just wanted to buy collectibles that people would bring into the mall. I planned to spend some money advertising that I would be there the whole week to evaluate any vintage items that local residents brought into the mall. The mall manager was smart enough to realize that this could possibly attract hundreds of potential shoppers into this normally very slow mall so he agreed to rent me space for a few hundred dollars.

I wrote up some small and medium sized display advertisements offering to buy and appraise collectibles and brought the ads to the three local newspapers. With only about five hundred dollars budgeted for print ads I needed to be sure they got good placement in the newspapers. I didn’t want them to be buried with lots of other small ads. I suggested that they would be noticed more if they were placed on the upper right corner of the right-hand page and the ad salesperson eventually agreed to this placement. The ads would read, “Need Cash For The Holidays? We pay cash for: Comic Books, Barbie Dolls, Model Kits, Trading Cards, CDs, Records, Video Tapes, Old Toys and Games, GI Joe Dolls, Sports Cards, Old Calendars, Matchbox and Hot Wheels Cars, Beatles Items, Video Games and Video Systems, Star Wars Toys, and more. For free appraisals call Paul, or visit our booth at The Belknap Mall.”

These advertisements began their run the night before I was to be in the mall. Some small classified ads also ran a few days before my time in the mall began. Most importantly, I sent out press releases to the local newspapers and radio stations to let them know that I would be buying and appraising collectibles and that I had hoped to spend at least $50,000 while I was here. Two newspapers ran short articles about my upcoming appearance at the mall using mostly the information I had provided in the press release. One article appeared in the Laconia Daily Sun and it said:

“Local collector-dealer Paul Howley, (owner of That’s Entertainment, New England’s largest collectibles store) wants to spend $250,000 on comic books, old toys and games, old books and magazines, GI Joe dolls, Barbie dolls, and more during the week of November 6-12.
“Paul Howley of Gilford, New Hampshire, is considered by many to be one of the most knowledgeable collectible dealers on the East coast. His store in Worcester, Massachusetts was the winner of the prestigious 1997 “Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Award” naming That’s Entertainment the best comic book and collectibles store in the world.
“Paul Howley has been involved with the collectibles market since the 1960s, and in 1990 authored ‘The Man From Uncle Collector’s Price Guide.’ He also served for many years as an advisor to ‘The Comic Book Price Guide.’
“Howley’s business was recently the subject of a feature article in the national publication ‘INC. Magazine.’
“Howley will be available at the Belknap Mall in Belmont each day to make free appraisals and offers on a vast assortment of collectibles including comic books, old toys and games, Barbie dolls, GI Joe dolls, old magazines and books, sports cards, trading cards, model kits, Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, Beatles items, old calendars, CDs, records, video tapes, Star Wars toys, video games and systems, and much more.”

This was almost word-for-word from my press release!

On the first day of my mall space rental, I arrived early and set up my booth that consisted of four eight-foot long tables that I arranged in a square, leaving space for me inside. I used the tables to display rare and interesting toys, comic books and sports cards to give people an idea of the kinds of items I was interested in buying. Now, all I needed was for people to bring me things to buy.

Next chapter: Working alone at my mall booth from 9am-9pm makes a long, boring day.

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