Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I.M.O. (In My Opinion) By Eddie R

Note: The following article is based upon the experiences and opinions of the writer of this article, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those associated with Pendragon’s Post.

Thank you.

Little Shop of....

Has this ever happened to you? You walk into a place where they sell comics, and you suddenly feel as if you’re more in a private members club rather than a comic book shop? I have, way too many times.

Now I am going to start off by saying that not every comic book store is like this. When I lived in the big city for over a decade, I guess you could say I was spoiled. I had about 10 comic book shops to choose from, and if I found one or two which did not suit my liking I would just stop going to them. I am a firm believer of “Shop with your feet & wallet”, meaning if you don’t like a certain store for whatever reason and you feel there’s no point in complaining, because nothing will be done to correct the situation, you try to find one that will meet your needs, and you give them your business. That’s called being a consumer. And yes, even comic book readers are considered part of that demographic.

O.K. I know the situation I mentioned above isn’t exactly ideal for everyone, especially those who live in a small or rural community, and have no other means to access the books they love, and who are at the mercy of the person behind the counter. Trust me, I grew up in the country and recently decided to move back to my hometown, and this type of situation is also all too familiar to me. I know a well stocked newsstand or magazine store cannot replace the charm and variety of a local comic book shop, and if you do have one in your small town, be lucky you do and please support them. These people are just like everyone else, and I do believe they try their best in order to accommodate and satisfy their customers. But there are some shops, and the owners who run them, which seem to foster an atmosphere of “member’s only”. As I said, in the big city that’s fine, you got more choice, but on a local level, this a completely different story.

The one thing has always puzzled me about these so- called “members only” comic shops, which seem to cater to a select few, is how can they stay in business if they seem to alienate their clientele so much? You would think the ones with bad customer service, ranging from dismissing or talking down to customers who have legit questions, to having a customer service style akin to consulting a brick wall, would actually want people to come in and buy from them, especially the local ones. I don’t know how many times I have walked into certain comic book shops where there seems to be a meeting going on around the cash counter, and the person behind the cash seems more interested in talking about how bad a book is in length, rather than actually letting the paying customers actually buy something . Or even more serious, you want to ask the clerk a question, but you have 5-10 guys there ready to pounce on you if you manage to say the wrong name of a book or character, and then have them rant and rave to the point where you just decided to walk out, without the owner or the clerk intervening. That stings, I know, I have been there.

I think the only solution to this dilemma is to demand better service from those shops which seem to want your cash, but not your physical presence in the store. Today in the 21st Century, we have a lot of choice when it comes to purchasing comic book material, the internet being the biggest advantage, especially when it comes to trade paper backs. It’s not uncommon to find TPB at an online bookstore for much less than the cover price. But you take a big chance because you’re not able to see what your purchasing beforehand. That’s where good customer service on the part of the Comic book shops will have to come into play if they want to retain their clientele.

Now I am not telling anyone to stop buying from their local comic book shop. That’s the last thing I want because they are in business for a reason, but what I would like my fellow readers to ask themselves is this. Does my local comic book shop meet my needs as a consumer? And if not, what can I, and the owners, do about correcting the situation?

You might be just as surprised as I was with the outcome.

Eddie R

Review Co-Editor

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