Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bad Weather is Bad for Books

If you were already in our store yesterday you should know this story, but if you weren't it is a sad tale of comic book boxes separated from friends, left alone in the cold and snow.

Wednesday is new book day, it is "money day," it is our busiest day of the week most weeks. Nothing upsets the perfect balance of new book day as much as product not arriving. Yesterday Craig and I wake up at the earlier new book day time and prepare ourselves for the day. Then we drive out to the UPS hub to pick up our boxes, most marked with Diamond's logo. We knew this would be a smaller week already--there were only three boxes coming. Usually we have an average of 5 - 6 boxes to pick up. Craig went into the UPS office to sign the UPS pad and bring the cart with our comics out to our truck and I waited in the truck for him. Usually it takes all of a minute for Craig to go in and come back out with our boxes. Yesterday he was in there over five minutes. The longer I waited the more I KNEW that at least one of our boxes was missing. Finally Craig came out with the cart and only two boxes. He had given the UPS guys our phone number in case it showed up and off we went to the store to put out whatever we'd received in the two boxes we did get.

Once at the store Craig left our Diamond sales rep a message to let him know one box of ours was missing and that the UPS tracking showed it had gotten as far as Buffalo New York. All of our new Diamond products come out of their Plattsburgh NY warehouse, then E. Syracuse NY, next they go to Buffalo where they must catch a flight or large truck because the next time we see them they are in Hodgkins IL, then onto our UPS hub. One of our triad of Diamond boxes got separated from his friends; maybe it got distracted, or cold, or just lost, but his friends continued on the pre-destined path to the comic book racks of Neptune Comics while he stayed in the 10 foot drifts of snow in Buffalo New York.

As we do on new book day, we unboxed the new products, received them, pull items for pre-orders and subscriptions, and put everything else out on the shelves. Once we were finished with the two boxes we could see that about 1/3 of our total shipment was in that sad, lost box. This prep took us about an hour since it was a small week, made smaller by not getting the full shipment. Our Diamond rep still had not called. We sent him an email, still nothing. But, a few minutes later we received an email from Diamond that stated that due to bad weather there would be very few members of the Diamond staff in the Timmonium MD office - which is exactly where the Diamond sales reps work. Apparently there was a bad ice storm out in MD (click here to see a photo of the aftermath) and not only were the roads treacherous, many people lost power. Thankfully Diamond's web site was working and we could track our missing package. It looked like it was back on it's way, and would arrive today, which it in fact did. We did luck out--our big books for the week: Astonishing X-Men, 52 and Justice Society of America did all arrive in the boxes we managed to get on Wednesday.

About 1:30 pm I realized that another Diamond shipment wasn't going to arrive. All of our new products, as I explained earlier, come out of the Diamond NY warehouse. These are marked so that they are held at the hub for us to pick up so that we can get books on the shelves by 11 AM on new book day. We usually also get another shipment from Diamond on new book day - a box of items we are restocking on in the store. This restocking box is sent out of Diamond's Memphis TN warehouse and is delivered by a UPS carrier instead of being held at the hub. I saw the UPS driver pull into our parking lot in front of the store at the usual time. I rang up a customer's purchase and as I turned around to complete the purchase via our credit card processing machine, I see the UPS truck pull away. The driver never came into our store. Once the customer left I went back to Diamond's web site and saw that the bad snow on Tuesday had held up our restocking order as well. Thankfully that one also arrived today and the shelves are finally full once again.

All-in-all we had a pretty good Wednesday considering that it was a small week and we didn't even get our full order that day. Thanks to everyone who already came back today to pick up the comics we didn't get yesterday!


Scott King said...

I don't understand. Are you the only store that has these kind of problems with Diamond? Or does EVERYONE have to deal with this kind of crap on such a regular basis? It just seems ridiculous that this much stuff happens so much.

...yeah the ice storm sucked. Its no fun when power goes out and playing "in ice" isn't as much fun as "playing in snow." I just fell down a lot and have a big bruise on my leg.

Lisa said...

No, we are actually pretty lucky with our shippments. Other stores have reported not getting any of their shippment for days. Sometimes there isn't even bad weather, Diamond just screws up somewhere. While it is very rare that we get EVERYTHING we ordered with nothing missing or too damaged to sell, we have been pretty lucky with getting our boxes on the right day.

Weather is a reasonable excuse - I completely understand people not getting shippments when they have to travel and travel can be hampered by bad weather. Sure, it's inconvenient, but forgivable.