Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sneaks, News & a Blog about Honesty!

Today I’ll start off with the Sneaks and News, and then get into a bit of a gripe I have. Let me tease you into wanting to read it – I complain about a competitor. Craig’s out of town, which is good because he’d flip if he knew I was doing a blog on this!

OK gang, just when you thought that you were spending too much money on comics and movies, the entertainment industry is crying out for our help!! Marvel announced a disappointing third quarter profit wise, saying that while still profitable the profits and earnings sank compared to last year. They also warn that 2006 looks to be “a difficult year.” So, before they jack up the comic book cover prices again I guess we’d better buy more. And in similar news, video rental giant Blockbuster reported a HUGE (we’re talking around $491 million) financial loss this quarter. They warn of a possible bankruptcy, and said they’re going to be closing some of their smaller stores. Guess they really were making money off of those dang late fees.

Smallville’s Kryptonsite and TV Guide are confirming that the rumors are true—Aquaman will get a spin-off show. I’m not sure Aquaman has the same fan base as Superman, but we’ll see what happens.

Superman Returns official movie site is now active. And the first trailer will with the next Harry Potter movie, Goblet of Fire, which opens November 18th.

For fans of ABC’s hit show, Lost, what would you do if you were lost on a deserted island? Play to find out.

Wondering if your favorite new show is going to be continued or canceled? Find out here.

If you have money you just don’t know what to do with, invest in buying on-line real-estate. That’s right—virtual property.

Are you really going to need a phone down there? (get your mind out of the gutter and click on the link to see what I mean)

I think Joss Whedon spends too much time writing on his blog and not enough time putting out new issues of Astonishing X-Men. But regardless, he’s announced via his blog that he’s going to be doing another installment of his Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic.

Brian Wood created a great comic book series that ended about a year ago called Demo. It was one of those comics where each issue was a stand-alone, yet they all fit together into a larger story. Now Wood will be working with Ryan Kelly to create a new series called Local. While Demo focused on a different character in each issue, Local will follow a young girl traveling through life and through the cities and towns across the United States, in a 12-issue series. If you never read Demo, it’s coming out in trade in a month or two, and I highly recommend it. This series also looks to be very good. I think Wood can craft an excellent story, and Kelly’s pencils (this is a black & white comic) are wonderful. Read up on it and see what you think.

Next month Marvel will share their holiday spirit with us all in a number of Holiday Special issues. Check them out!


Ok, Ok. I’m sure you’re saying, “enough with this news and information stuff, give us a rant already.” So, here goes.

As I said before, this is about a competitor, actually a couple of them. I won’t mention the name or give too many details. That way folks at that store can’t (well, I guess they can do whatever stupid things they want) hand out my blog to people in an attempt to badmouth my store. No one, except insiders, will know who you are, so don’t point out your own corruptions by trying to make me look bad. And actually, there are a couple of different stores involved in this whole mess, so you all should just keep quiet and try to fix your problems before they bite you in the backside.

If you have watched the TV show “My name is Earl” you know all about karma. We have always believed here that if you cheat people or the IRS or your distributor or ANYONE, it will come back and get you. You can only do that for so long before the mighty hand of karma takes a good, hard swing at you. But on the other hand, if you treat people like friends, enjoy what you do every day, be honest with everyone-customers, competitors, the government, then karma will smile upon you and things will go well. Now, sometimes things just don’t work out that way, and bad things happen to good people. But none-the-less, we try to run a top-notch place here. Everything’s by the book. We keep detailed financial records, we work with a tax accountant, when I get paid we use a payroll company who reports to the IRS. When we order comic books from our distributors, we order for our store only and don’t cheat the system in order to get better discounts or terms of sale, nor do we sell to stores we don’t own in order to benefit from a better discount ourselves. We try our best to always be upfront and honest with shoppers when they come here, and to people looking to buy or sell items of “value.” Young and old, browser or regular shopper, we always say hello and try to help people find something they’ll enjoy. Basically, we do our best every day to run a good small-business.

Our business continues to grow, and we believe it is because of the quality of store we provide, both outwardly and behind the scenes. Sure, we could maybe make more money if we “cheated” a little here and there. Maybe people wouldn’t even know about it. But we would know, and we’d feel guilty. And what if somehow someone found out and reported it? Well, then we could be in trouble, both in reputation and financially. Truthfully, it’s a shame that some business owners feel that it’s OK to cheat the systems if it benefits their business. Sure, some of the systems nibble at our bottom lines and might not seem fair. However, if you don’t like the system it’s better to try to change it than it is to try and cheat it, because if you get caught the penalties might be worse than the cost of following the rules to begin with.

So, you Mr. Store Owner who pays his employees under the table, shame on you. And shame on the employee for letting it happen. And shame on you Mr. Store owner for buying comics for other stores who, because of various reasons, can’t get an account with “The Distributor,” in direct violation with “The Distributor’s” terms of sale. Shame on you for selling product before it's release date to get a jump on sales. Sure, if you get paid under the table you don’t have to report income and you get to keep more money. And yes, if you pay your employee under the table you don’t have to pay Workers Comp to the state, or social security… If you own a store and want a better discount or terms of sale, or just had financial problems that keep you from having an account with “The Distributor” you benefit dramatically from the discounts, terms and charity of the other store that’s supporting you. While the store that orders benefits from even better discounts (which are based on volume of order – the more you buy the better your discount) as well as being able to keep any variant comics or limited editions that the other stores orders have helped you qualify for. But “The Distributor” has rules against this, so watch out. And if you hand out product before it's release date you might take away my customers by giving them the product first, but "The Distributor" and "The product Maker" have policies agains this too.

You who are scamming the system should rethink the way you do business. I met a few people over the years who got into trouble with their small businesses, being busted by the IRS and owing thousands of dollars, some loosing their business because a supplier pulled their contract due to TOS violations, having partners vote them out of the business without buying them out. Every business owner hopes that these things don’t happen to them. But some do get caught. You shop owners flying below the radar, think about this—if I know what’s going on, and I’m pretty “out of the loop” as far as being an insider in the local comic book community—then other people know. If you have enemies out there and they find out what’s going on, the fun could all end. I won't tell them, but if I know, your enemies have probably known for a while. I hope you can “fix” your ways before this happens because I believe that we need more comic book stores, not fewer. Do YOUR best to run honest businesses and while you might see some of your profits get eaten up, in the long run karma could actually bring you more business, from which you could actually benefit more from than from what you save by cheating. Or, if you have to cheat just to stay afloat, then maybe that's a sign that you should consider a different line of work.

While I know that actions by specific comic shops have spurred on this rant, the truth is that EVERY business should do what they can to be on the “up and up,” both small businesses and large ones (let’s not forget Enron and the other major corporate scandals that were discovered over the past few years). We always try to evaluate our operations and constantly improve things, to better record things, to just be a better business. How about we all give that a try, and give karma’s bad side the day off?

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