Monday, May 01, 2006


There are some people who just think they know EVERYTHING. Let me tell you, those people often know less than everything. They know so little, in fact, that they THINK they know everything because they just don’t understand how little they really do know. Wasn’t it some kind of ancient philosopher from a far away land who said something like “the wise man understands that he knows little, the foolish man thinks he knows much.”

Why do I bring this up? Because I just find it funny at times how people who come into the store barely able to keep their own lives/finances in check offer their comments on how we should be doing business. Sure, sometimes people will give us good advice, or an idea we’ll consider or even try out. But other times I just want to laugh and tell them to let me know when they have their own store. I’m not trying to say I know everything there is to know about owning a comic book/pop culture store! We’ve got a lot to learn and I’m sure we will make many mistakes along the way. But if you have trouble holding down a job and spend hours a week hanging out in a comic book store, where you can’t afford to pick up what they’re holding, I’m thinking you don’t have a good understanding of how to run a business. Maybe I’m wrong, and some of these people are the “idiot savants” of the business world, unable to run their own lives but brilliant business people. But seriously, what are the chances of that?

Here are some examples of great advice we’ve gotten…

“You guys should hire me, and then I’d be able to get people back in here gaming.” First, we’re not hiring. Second, we don’t want to hire someone who makes this a “hang out joint” for his friends (it increases the temptation to give friends “a deal” on merchandise when unsupervised and it decreases the amount of customer service given to “non-friend” shoppers who come into the store). Third, we don’t have room for gaming anymore. And Fourth, we did gaming, and found that we’re better off without it, both financially and mentally (dealing with gamers can be a stressful endeavor). And finally, I sure hope that having friends isn’t your only qualification for employment.

"You should open the rest of these (random/blind packaged item) so I can just buy the ones I need." Well, if I do that I'm going to have to charge you more. I have to take the time to do it, I run the risk of selling less because the one you want is the hard one to find, and now you have the convenience of being able to just pick up the one you want. If you don't like buying random/blind box packaged items, then don't. I am sure you can find the one you're looking for on EBay (probably for more than what you're going to pay for it here if you get it out of its original packaging).

“You guys should price your stuff using EBay as a guide.” On rare occasion we do this, especially for action figure toy variants. But, our cost is our cost, and we usually use the suggested retail price (SRP) given to us by the manufacturer or distributor to price items. There are times when we see items on EBay that are priced less than what our original cost was. Maybe that seller has hot merchandise, or maybe they don’t want it and just need cash so they’re blowing it out. I know when we sell low-priced items on EBay it’s either because it’s sat too long and we just want something for it, or we need the space for something we think will sell better in the store. I would not use EBay as a price guide for general merchandise because it’s a loosing proposition. We have a lot of overhead here that EBay sellers don’t have.

“I have a lot of Magic cards I want to get rid of. You guys should buy cards.” Well, we’ve thought about it a few times, but there are a few problems with this. The main one being we are not primarily a game store, so we don’t move cards as fast as a game store does. The other one is that our Magic singles are priced a bit less than some other stores in the area, so we can’t offer to buy them from people for the same price—a smart seller would go to the store that offers them the best price. And finally, just like buying used comics, people often don’t understand why a reseller offers them so little for their excess, unwanted merchandise. (If you don’t want it, why should I?)

“You guys should move downtown.” Hmmm… seriously? Move from a location we already wish was easier to get to from the freeway and had even more parking than we do, to an area that’s harder for someone not from the area to find their way around in and generally has much less parking? Sounds like a bad idea already.

There is one guy who had mentioned that he wanted advice on opening his own store, and then was so distracted by whatever was playing on the TV at the time, that I never answered and he never asked again. Yet, he will come in every few days with advice on what we should do here – advice I usually think is terrible, maybe advice he should use if he opens a store of his own so he can see just how terrible it is.

I don’t want to come across as someone who is not open to new ideas. We’re always looking for suggestions on how to improve our store and increase our business. But self-motivated suggestions aren’t generally useful – just because it helps you doesn’t mean that anyone else will benefit from it. And suggestions for us to do something we’ve already tried and scrapped aren’t good either. Occasionally someone will bring up something and we’ll really think it’s a good idea and give it a try – sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes we’ll get a suggestion that’s good, but not practical for our store—it might involve more money or space than we currently have, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea. However, there are plenty of bad ideas out there too, I’m sure I’ve even had a few, but I don’t run off to someone else who is more of an expert than me and tell them they should do it.

No comments: