Most North American comic shops offer a pull and hold service for regular customers wherein they pull your regular monthly titles and set them aside for you. Most of the Comic shops that offer a pull service also offer some sort of discount for loyal customers. Again, most shops work on an honor system wherein they order you your stuff even though you have not paid for it and even though you may not have even signed some form that says you are responsible to pay for anything ordered for you. Shop keeps are very trusting that way.
Sometimes people get ahead of themselves and their ‘file’ may fall into arrears. Weeks, even months worth of comics may accumulate for a customer before the shop pulls the plug. Oh, yeah, the shop will have done their due diligence; made their calls to the numbers on file, sent the emails, sometimes contact may even be made, promises exchanged, but to no avail. Since comic shops buy on a no return policy it’s very likely that many of these unclaimed comics will go unsold and thus hurt the comic shop’s cash flow.
This is all messy stuff. The buyer may come back a year later, apologize and want to start up a new file, which puts the comic shop in a tight spot (fool me once shame one you, fool me twice …). The buyer may be embarrassed and never come back to the shop; he or she may actually drive or bus way out of the way to an inferior shop just because of the awkwardness of the situation. None of this is any good gosh darnit.
The good news is that this can all be easily avoided with honest communication and mutual respect. Respect comes from the customer in knowing what the shop is doing and how much money it is tying up when the pull pile grows. Respect comes from the shop when it listens to and understands when a customer is having financial difficulty or even waning interest.
There are solutions available.
Scale back. Shops want you to come in happy and not stressed by the financial obligation. They’d rather have your $10 a week for the next 15 years than your $50 a week for the next 4 months.
Stop altogether at a point where the shop’s pile is manageable. The shop will appreciate the honesty and gladly restart your service when you get back on your feet.
Work some sort of trade for your pile. You may have old issues the shop needs. If at the end of the day both parties are happy then it’s all good.
I’m sure you and your shop are creative enough to figure out other solutions that will work for both parties.
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada