Monday, September 17, 2007

Greedy Bastards

I know I promised a blog about those that take everything in site at the retailer summits, but I just haven't had time. But here it is Monday and the store is quiet at the moment, so I'm jumping into it.

For the last three years we have attended one of the Diamond retail summits. The first in Fort Wayne, IN and the last two in Baltimore MD. And at all three, in both locations, they have an exhibit hall where retailers can wander through. It gives us all a chance to meet publishers and even some creators, and talk to them one-on-one. There are also usually some game company reps from places like Mayfair Games and Wizkids, etc. that answer questions and give game demos. Many of these exhibitors give things away to retailers. Even Diamond has a bundle of stuff they give to us for attending. These items are supposed to be used: 1. to promote the publisher and the comics/books/games/whatever they're selling and 2. to help recoup some of the costs of attending the summit. The items vary - you've seen many of them pictured here and here in the last few days. There were other items we've already given away to customers we know will enjoy them. And, our Diamond stuff probably won't get here for another month or so.

Many of the exhibitors at the summit put their free stuff out on the table, so as people walk by they can grab it. Others put items they are promoting or want to sell out. Well, some attendees at the summits don't seem to know the difference. I was talking to a woman about how we don't order DVD's from Diamond because they don't show up on time. As we were talking she was taking most of her stuff off of her table because it wasn't for taking - it was for promotion of upcoming video releases - but people were just walking up and grabbing them without asking and walking away before she could stop them. I saw some people at one publisher's booth looking at manga displayed and waiting for the person at the table to turn his head - at which time they'd grab a handful of the manga and walk away.

We saw one guy in Baltimore with two huge bags full of stuff, about 1 hour into the exhibit time, sorting and flipping and figuring out what he had. His forehead glistened with a bit of perspiration as he tossed out some "unnecessary" items to make room as he prepared to make another lap around.

There are some items that are given out one per attendee, and we've seen people bringing in their children to claim a copy. People will also use children to try to con more free stuff off of the tables. Even if a kid has come by the booth once or twice before, of course the vendor is going to let them take the freebie again - how can you say no to a kid?

Some exhibitors do a good job of monitoring things. They will give one per person after a dinner, or have Diamond monitor the handing out of items by marking off registered accounts from a list. Others just let people have a free-for-all, the operative word being "FREE."

Typically most retailers are good. Some take absolutely nothing. Others make sure to get the quality items in the one per account or one per person quantities they're supposed to be distributed on. Top Shelf looked like they were selling a TON of graphic novels - people weren't just taking them. So, I'd have to say that overall it isn't that bad.

But you know what they say about the bad apple spoiling the bunch... there are still a good number of people at these summits who show up for and only attend the exhibit portion - not any of the other programs, meals, demos, etc. They come for the free item grab and run back out. There are those that make trip after trip, grabbing as much as they can get. There are those that hear booths having giveaway drawings at the end and calling off store names and when no one claims it will run up and pretend they're from that store. (I witnessed this one!)

The picture at the top of this post is of the group I call the "Greedy Bastards." The two on the right were part of a group of three that just continued to do laps and grab everything that wasn't tied down. ALL of that stuff pictured was theirs. Even if they each represented one store that's a LOT of stuff. We had one Diamond double box and some stuff in our suitcases. That was it. These people would take turns guarding their growing stacks of stuff and running to grab more. When vendors were packing up they REALLY went nuts, grabbing everything they could and running back to throw it onto the stack and go back for more. The Dark Horse stand pictured is one example of their madness. We saw a stack of at least 20 of these in their pile - and those were just the visable ones. WHO needs 20 of these?? Sure, they look cool, but that kind of quantity seems a little, ummm..... unnecessary. They don't come with the comics - just the stand - you fill it yourself. You don't even get a coupon with them to use toward a Dark Horse purchase. They are JUST cardboard stand up displays. You saw the post with the Garth Ennis M&M's right? People even took those - and tried to sell them on eBay. Last year we saw Michael Turner at his booth - alone - no one was talking to him or anything - because he'd run out of the free comics he was signing and giving away. In fact, you can usually tell which exhibitors have run out or didn't bring anything to give away - they don't have a soul at their booth.

These greedy bastards can make the rest of us look bad. Many retailers sit back and shake their heads at these types when we see their kind, every year, at every retailer summit. And I know there are people at every con or exhibit that do the same kind of thing, so it isn't just us comic book folks that try to freeload. There are things that Diamond and the exhibitors could do to keep this from happening - like not having exhibit day registration or having registered account lists and once someone from that account gets their stuff they can't get more from that exhibitor. I didn't think that this year's Baltimore summit was as bad as the two previous Diamond summits I attended in terms of folks going nuts for anything that wasn't tied down. With the exception of that group pictured at the top, who seemed to try their best to make up for the rest of the usual "grubber and glutton" crowd.

1 comment:

Devil Doll said...

That is really appalling. I don't know what it is about free stuff that brings out the worst in people, but you see it time and time again. Ugh.