Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part #160

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


I was sitting in the Belknap Mall in New Hampshire in the booth space I had rented in the center of the mall which was set up as a display of rare and valuable collectible toys, trading cards, comic books and model kits. My advertisements had been running for a few days in a few local newspapers and I was anticipating people coming in to sell me some interesting items. A few hours passed and no one came in with anything for me to make an offer on or to appraise. Mal, my wife, came by around noon to bring me a lunch and to see how things were going. I was disappointed that I hadn’t bought anything yet. Perhaps the local newspaper ads were just too small to be noticed.

When I closed up the booth at 9 pm, I hadn’t bought anything. The day had been wasted. Frustrated, I called the two major local newspapers the next morning to try to encourage them to write an actual article about my appearance at the mall and was told by both of them that they’d try to send a reporter out to interview me at the mall location. I suggested that they may want to send a photographer too because the selection of rare collectibles would make an interesting photograph for the upcoming article.

I returned to the mall and set up the booth display again. (I couldn’t leave such a valuable collection overnight in the open space of the mall) During the morning I bought some not very valuable record albums and some vintage Hot Wheels cars still sealed in the original packages. I paid $75.00 for the six Hot Wheels cars assuming I could sell them for about $125.00 for the lot. Since I didn’t have any samples of these cars in my booth display, I added them into a prominent location. Later in the day, these Hot Wheels cars caught the eye of two guys, Jim Blackie and Dan Schroeder. Both of them hung around and chatted with me about collectibles for a couple of hours. I would have been very bored if they hadn’t come by. (Both of these guys are still friends of mine many years later!) By the end of the day I had given appraisals and purchased everything that had been brought in to me including a few comic books from the 1970s, the Hot Wheels cars, some Matchbox vehicles, some record albums, and a very nice lot of original 1960s G. I. Joe dolls in their original boxes. I was disappointed that the local newspaper’s reporters never came by to interview me but at least my advertisements were noticed by some people. Some of the money I had invested in this mall rental would be recouped once I sold the collectibles I had just bought.

The next day I was surprised when my son, Adam, and his then-girlfriend, Alletta (who was staying at our house for a couple of days), stopped by for a visit. Adam was dressed up as a punk rocker. I was so happy that he was expressing an interest in what I was doing and took the time to come to see me that his outlandish “costume” didn’t bother me. Adam was constantly changing his appearance by dyeing his hair bright colors and he’d go from wacky clothes to conservative clothes depending on his mood. They stayed and visited for quite a while and it was very enjoyable.

The next morning, before I went to the mall, I called the editors of the local newspapers to remind them that I was still hoping they’d do a short story about me and they assured me they’d send a reporter that day.

Shortly after I got to the mall, a man and his wife came by to tell me about some vintage items they’d be interested in selling to me. They hadn’t seen my advertisements but had been referred by Karen Fogg, a fellow school board member and a friend of mine. This couple had a few things that interested me but I was not sure of their accurate current value so I suggested that they allow me to try to sell a few of the items for a small commission. They agreed to this and I told them I’d contact them sometime in the coming weeks to make arrangements.

Later that day, both newspapers sent their reporters out to interview me. The reporters also took several photographs of me with my collectible display. Neither of them could guarantee when these stories would appear in their newspapers but I urged them to hurry before my week was done! It wouldn’t help me if the stories ran when my mall rental was over! Two days later, the stories still had not appeared in the newspapers.

Next chapter: With only two days left of my time in the mall, the two newspaper stories appear.

Picture: My son, Adam, and his friend Aletta.

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