Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Complain, Complain, Complain

side note - I thought about calling this entry "bitch, bitch, bitch" but my sensibilities held me back.

Have you ever known one of those people who are always negative? Who always seem to find something to complain about? I know I have. Often I’ll suggest to “Negative Ned” to do something about this or that problem, but “Negative Ned” never does. Maybe “Ned just prefers to complain, rather than to actually take some actions that could give him something positive to talk about.

I bring this up because recently I was reading an article on talking about bad comic book stores. The person writing it decided that the best thing to do would be to buy her comics and related items on-line. I have no problem with that, believe it or not. If there isn’t a single store that meets your quality standards within a reasonable drive for you, then I say don’t give any of them the money. Someone posted a reply to this article, a guy who writes comic book reviews. He goes to a store that is, from what he says, terrible (any non-Neptune person reading this, just to let you know, this guy is not from the Milwaukee area, so don’t go telling people I’m writing about your store). This guy’s store put up signs the day Countdown to Infinite Crisis came out saying “RIP Blue Beatle.” The store, according to this guy, is a total mess, the employees are rude, and the owner is basically incompetent, and so on. He had quite a laundry list of problems with the place. Yet, he continues to shop there. Now, this is a guy who tries to promote comic books and writes reviews, and I really really think he should know better. WHY would he continue to give money to a comic shop that he hates because they are very thing that’s bad about the industry? He claims that because he has to do reviews right when books come out, he has to pick them up, otherwise he’d do mail-order. I told him to STOP going to the place instantly and to do his best to try to find a better place in his area, even if he had to drive a little further, rather than support such a horrible store. The area he lives in is large enough that he should be able to find at least a few stores that aren’t too far, and if traffic isn’t too bad should be worth the drive.

A while back I read a posting from a guy who said he had gone into a comic book shop with his daughter and was horrified that he even took her in there. They were using bad language, the store was a mess, comics “adult” in nature were out in plain sight, the store was dark… So, instead of running for the door he found something quickly, bought it and left. Again, I posted to him saying he should have just left. Why support this type of place? This wasn’t even his usual shop; he just stopped in to check it out.

I have had people come into our store and pick up a comic or two, and let me know that they aren’t happy with their current comic book store for whatever reason. Yet they are only picking up issues they missed at their other store, and go running back the next week. Don’t tell me you aren’t happy with your store and then keep going back to it. It just makes no sense at all to me. I had a problem with the Kmart store near my house and then another worse problem, so I decided not to shop there anymore. I am not even saying these people should switch from their regular store to Neptune Comics (although I would certainly like them to), but if they aren’t happy, they should take their business somewhere else. Maybe not if it was just a one-time problem, then give the store a chance to make it better. But usually the stories of problems I hear seem to be things that have been going on for a while. I never tell the people, “hey—stop going there already, bring your business here,” because I want them to make that decision on their own. It’s my job to impress them while they are here in my store, not to convince them that their current store is horrible. Usually I just shake my head and say, “that’s too bad, “ or “that doesn’t seem right,” or some other sympathetic statement.

So, why DON’T people leave bad comic book stores that they say they hate? Is it like an abusive relationship, where no matter how bad it gets they don’t think they’ll find someone else who will love them, or that they somehow deserve the bad treatment they are getting? In many areas where there is one comic book store there are several, so in these cases it’s not like they can’t go to a different store because there isn’t one around (and if that IS the case there are several quality mail-order stores). Is it because they have a discount they don’t want to loose? If so, then remember this sage bit of advice—YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!! Is it worth the problems you deal with every week for that discount? If it is, then stop your complaining. Is it because they don’t want to miss books off of their pull-list? That’s not a good reason! Most comic book stores can pick up your subs instantly, and if you get some “unusual” comics/items the good ones can track down anything they don’t carry for you fairly easily. Is it because, no matter how bad the current store is, they know what “Ned” wants and likes? Again, a bad reason—tell a new place what you like and if they’re any good they’ll remember and do what they can to help you find plenty of things you like. Maybe the “bad place” is a little further away from “Ned’s” house or work. That’s a little better reason, since gas prices have been pretty high. But there’s always mail order, and sometimes you can find a store that’s worth that longer drive (I know we have customers that come quite a ways out to shop here).

In all honesty, I say if you love comics but hate your comic book store, then STOP going there. Stop right now. If you feel like you can, then let the store owner know why you are leaving—maybe someday he/she will make changes. Like I said earlier, if it was some little mistake they made one time cut them some slack. If they don’t carry some indie comic you like and you haven’t asked for it, then ask for it and give them a chance to get it. But if you walk into a comic book store and it seems that they haven’t cleaned it in years, that’s bad. If you walk into the store and the clerk isn’t busy with customers but still doesn’t acknowledge you until they look at you on your way out to make sure you’re not stealing, that’s bad. If your orders are consistently wrong—I don’t mean a few times over years, I mean consistently, that’s bad. If you ask for help or recommendations and the staff looks at you like you’re speaking Russian, that’s bad. But if none of these things bother you, then fine, keep going there. However, if it’s so bad that you are already shopping at (and complaining to) another store then QUIT complaining and QUIT shopping at that store. It’s the best way to show them you are unhappy, and the best way to help good stores spread and thrive. Generally speaking (from experience) it costs more to run a nice store than a bad store, and if people will shop at a store no matter how bad things are there, then it doesn’t make sense to run a good store—it’s too expensive and too much work. So please, if you are not happy with your current store (be it comic books, pet food, toy trains—whatever), regardless of where you live and work in this world we share, STOP complaining about it and do something! Stop going there and try to find a good store to support. Otherwise just stop complaining!

Disclaimer: This article is, in no way, intended to convince any specific person to leave any specific shop and come here to Neptune Comics. We hope our store speaks for itself and we will let readers decide on their own where to spend their money.

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