Comic Shop Etiquette
Vacations, business trips, sporting events, seminars and family functions are just some of the reasons we find ourselves visiting other cities. If you’re a comic collector like me odds are you’ve pulled out the local yellow pages to see if there are any comic book stores in the area. Usually there are one or two somewhere near where you’re staying so time permitting you make the effort to check them out.
Entering a comic book store for the first time is a very exciting experience for any comic book collector. Anticipation builds as you open the front door, your pulse quickens as you spot all those Golden Age Porky Pigs you’ve been so religiously collecting for the past 11 years. Elation is quickly doused as you realize every single issue you need is extremely overpriced (in your opinion). That’s OK you tell yourself, its haggling time.
If the comic shop is a good one the odds of you finding the owner behind the counter are less than you’d think. Most owners try to take weekends off (and you may only be in town for the weekend). Owners may use days like Monday and Tuesday to run errands, go pick up supplies etc. In other words there’s a good chance you may find yourself dealing with a very knowledgeable employee but one that cannot negotiate with you in any way about price.
Comic stores that stock a lot of back issues usually have a rule for those working the till when the boss is not around. At our shop we allow the people working to discount any expensive back issue 10%. This has bit me in the butt more than a few times because I know that I would have given that guy wanting to clean out my Metamorpho bin 50% off if he took them all. Better this lost sale though than say my weekend manager letting that Detective Comics #35 go for 40% off because we were having a slow day. Defined limits help the employees by taking pressure off them especially around items they may not be familiar with. “Sorry sir, 10% is all I’m allowed to discount. You wouldn’t want to get me fired would you?”
Ask the person working whether there are discounts on the comics you are interested in. If what ever they tell you is not to your satisfaction then by all means make an offer on the comic books you are interested in but make sure that they are able to present this offer to the owner. All our staff has my cell # just in case they have to get in touch with me should an old guy trying to sell his Action Comics #1-100 walk through the door (I was at the beach with my cell charging in the car when the guy wanted to buy the Metamorphos).
Do not pressure the employee and do not haggle with the employee. Respect the fact that he or she may not have the right to set prices below a predetermined percentage. Again, ask that they try to contact the owner. Often you may have to leave without the comics you want because you think they are priced too high. Take a business card. Email the owner when you get home and make your offer. Again, if it is a good shop there should be no problem negotiating a fair price and arranging shipping. The owner may even thank you when he or she hears how professionally you treated his or her staff when you were in the shop.
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton, Ontario.