Thursday, May 04, 2006

New Pricing Policy

I think I’m going to start a new story policy; an unwritten policy.  You can ask us for a “deal” or a lower/better price on something once.  If we can or want to do it, we will, if not we’ll tell you that.  If you ask again on that same item, the price goes UP, not down.  We are not a discount store. We pay high rent to have a fairly decent location with parking, and we try to keep our shelves well stocked.  Occasionally we’ll have deals – a sale or special on something.  But understand that the mark-up comic book retailers get on most new merchandise is negligible already. The average retailer has a 100% - 300% markup, we are lucky when we get half of that lower number.  Used items are the exception, and we don’t buy much of that at this point.  Once we expand our store we’re going to buy more comic book collections and even statues and mini-busts, but for now we buy only comic book collections, and we don’t buy many of them.  But this “used” or “secondary market” buying is where comic book and collectable retailers make most of their money.  If you ask for a deal on something we bought used/second-hand, we might give you a deal, or it might already be bargain priced and we won’t.  But chances are, if you ask for a deal on something new that we got straight from a distributor, chances are we can’t afford to do it. We price the items at, and sometimes below, suggest retail price, and that’s really the best we can afford to do.  You can ask, but if you’re a pest about it, your price will go up because we have to put up with your nagging.

I bring this up because last night I overheard, as my stomach was churning around, a guy asking Craig what we sell boxes of Magic: The Gathering for.  The price of a full box here is $94.99.  That’s already around 30% off of the retail price if you buy them by the pack.  It’s the only deal we offer, and that’s only for full boxes that we buy at our regular price from the distributor. If it’s a harder to get or older set and it costs us more to purchase, the cost of the box to the consumer goes up as well.  Anyway, this guy, who, by the way, has NEVER spent a penny in our store before this, says to Craig, “no man, what’s MY price?”  Craig again repeats the $94.99 price.  They guy says, “What if I buy 12 boxes, what’s my price?”  Craig replies “Whatever $94.99 times 12 is.”  The guy asks AGAIN, “no, seriously man, what kind of deal would you give ME.”  Craig said, “That IS the deal – it’s already 30% off regular retail. It’s the best price we’re giving.”  The guy takes one of our cards and says, “OK, I understand, you don’t want to give me a lower price right now (there were a few other shoppers in the store that he gestures towards, as if to indicate that he might get a better price of other people wouldn’t hear) but I’ll give you a call later and see what you can do.” Then he continued on, explaining how it took him several months before a comic book store in Milwaukee (I’m not naming names, but he did) gave him $69 a box.  We said that we would loose money at that price, and that he should just keep getting cards from them because there was NO WAY we would EVER sell them for that. I told Craig after this guy left that he should tell him his price is now $110 per box, and if he asks again, it’s $120.

Maybe if he pre-paid for an entire case of 12-boxes we might be able to give him a little better price. That would be the ONLY way, and even then he wouldn’t get a price close to $69!  We may as well just give him the name and number of our distributor and have him buy direct from them, then at least he’d get close to that price.  What’s a guy doing with 12 boxes of Magic anyway?  If he’s getting them for $69 a box, my guess is he’s re-selling the boxes at closer to $94.99, or he’s opening them and selling massive amounts of single cards on-line and getting top-dollar for the rare cards, easily doubling his money (we opened a box of Magic recently and kept all the rare cards to the side, priced them, and then added them up. They came out to be right around $130 – about the full retail price of 36 booster packs). We’re not in business to make other people rich.  We’re in business to make money for ourselves and our store.  I’m not going to give away boxes of Magic so some other guy can earn a living off of my loss!  Distributors are in the business of selling so others can make money (of course they make money too), retail stores usually are not.  If you want to buy Magic: The Gathering cards and make lots of money off of them, I don’t suggest that you buy them from a retail store. Buy them off EBay or from the manufacturer or a distributor—heck, open your own business, either on or off line. Bother someone who doesn’t realize that they’re better off selling 6 boxes for $94.99 than 12 boxes at $69.  I want to keep my store open, and I think that most of our regular customers want that too.  So, you can ask once for a price reduction, and we will honestly tell you if we can or can’t do it.  After that, you are just being annoying, and the price for being annoying is HIGHER, not lower.  Go put someone else out of business, but we plan to stay open for a while.

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