Archive for the “retail” Category

One of the things that happens when you move is that the previous tenants catalogs keep showing up. Sometimes you can get a sense of what kind of person lived there before from these things, but mostly it’s just boring, aspirational stuff like Sur La Table or Pottery Barn.

Today’s catalog was Bud K, something I hadn’t seen since I was in high school. It struck me today that this stuff is basically just a Previews catalog without the explicit nerd pandering.
Honestly, this stuff is kind of amazing, in a “really not for me” sort of way.

And right out of the gate, we’ve got a Predator mask…
Okay, so there is still some nerd pandering. Hey, the bread-and-butter of this operation seems to be selling movie replica and “fantasy” weapons. You’ve got to expect a little of this.

And then we get kitty-cat shaped knuckle-spikes right next to testicles for your key-chain. Because if your truck already has testicles, your keys need them too.
Actually, the kitty spikes need a little something…

There we go…Sanrio, call me.

Part of me wants to know whether walking into someone’s bedroom and seeing a Confederate bedspread is a turn on for some people…

It’s a horn…

A sword hidden inside an umbrella makes perfect sense. I’m constantly having to fight off swashbucklers in the rain.

If the idea is to create an inconspicuous stash box, something that looks like a gun and straps to your steering wheel doesn’t strike me as the best solution.

Oh, sure, a Masonic watch sounds like a good idea, but you have to be initiated into at least the 12th degree to read it correctly…

No joke, I really do think it’s fantastic that Bud K’s customer base includes people who would wear an “Armour of God” t-shirt and people who would buy “jiggly-boob” beer cozies.
Also on this same page:

It truly is your one-stop shopping resource for Christians, Pagans and Creepy Guys.

I think “futuristic” here is being used to mean “legally distinct from anything Lucas owns the copyright on.”

Yes. Your “law enforcement” needs. Because that’s exactly what hand and leg cuffs that cost under $20 are going to be used for.

This is nothing short of breath-taking. The Bud K people have found a way to get people to pay to have pieces of wood shipped to them.
They are brilliant. There is nothing more I can say about this catalog. Oh, no…there is one more thing…

It’s a horn…

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Dear Mark Millar,

No, that doesn’t happen. Oh, sure, I’ve heard those sub-Dane Cook level comedians make those same sophomoric jokes: “Hnurr hnurr, I wish I was a lesbian, I’d just stare at myself all day, amiritefellas?”
It’s not funny. It’s really kind of offensively stupid. And the joke really doesn’t translate when being applied to gay men. Especially not when it appears in a comic aimed at 25-35 year old man-children who would probably shriek in terror at the thought of a nude gay man.
And yes, this is me being appalled at something in the worst comic since Skate Man. A fool’s errand at the best of times.

Speaking of people who have apparently never met a real-life homosexual, I’m a little weary of people trying to make the Machine Gun Joe character in Death Race some sort of indicator of the progress of gay characters in mainstream films.
In the film, when the question of the character’s sexuality is introduced, it is quite clear from the context that it’s just a homophobic taunt. From one of the likable “good” characters, naturally, homophobic insults still being something that it’s okay for protagonists in mainstream films to say. Unlike smoking or racist insults.
Now, I’m aware that some of the film-makers have said that the character is meant to be gay, while others have not. In any case, there is nothing in the film itself to suggest the character is gay, save that insult. The character himself never declares himself to be gay. And the one vaguely “homoerotic” moment in the film is almost instantly deflected by the normalizing return of heterosexual values.
In a way, the film-makers have stumbled upon a neat trick; they get to take credit for a “ground-breaking” gay character in an action film without ever actually having to deal with a gay character.

So, I keep thinking about Kevin’s posts about bad retailing decisions, mostly because I’m baffled that smart people keep missing Kevin’s point so badly. Either they think it’s a good thing for a retailer in a small margins business to actively discourage sales in the names of “integrity”–which is an argument that really phenomenally misses the point that comic shops being run like club houses instead of businesses is bad for the industry, or they keep bringing in this asinine restaurateur metaphor, as if a waiter suggesting the crab cakes because the clams with linguine are a bit off tonight is anything remotely like a retailer sending out a mass e-mailing to existing and potential customers insinuating that they’re idiots if they like a comic he doesn’t.
It all makes me reconsider that “smart” adjective.
But what I keep coming back to is that telling your customers your opinion of a book, and still selling it to them, are not mutually exclusive.

Amazing Spider-Man #2338; While many fans, myself included, were upset with what it took to bring the character to the new status-quo, the new creative teams on this title have met with critical and commercial success. A new storyline starts here for those curious about what’s been going on.
Astonishing X-People #2222; While the combination of Ellis and Bianchi are not to my taste, a new storyline starts here, tying in to the larger “Manifest Destiny” branding in the X-books. It’s a good jumping on point for those who enjoy Ellis’s super-hero work.

Hey, whoa, did you see that there? I gave as neutral a judgement as I could while still finding a way to tell interested customers to check the book out. And it was easy.
Of course, this doesn’t address the concerns of those bloggers who see nothing wrong with what the retailer in question did because he was bashing super-hero books in his newsletter. But I’m sure that if he had slapped a big NOT BUY on Kramer’s Ergot or Love and Rockets, the art-comix bloggers would have had my back.

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From Star Spangled War Stories #93, a message to all my brothers and sisters still toiling away in the salt mines of comics retailing:

DC Comics circa 1960 has your back!

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If I still worked in comics retail my response to this news would be: “What? DC publishing a Batgirl comic that I could actually sell to kids? Has the world gone mad?.”

Cue comic fans bitching about Character X not getting an “All Star” book before this in 3…2…

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No, I’m not talking about the recent yaoi unpleasantness. I’m talking about Tokyopop’s recent announcement that some titles will move to online sales only.

Even though I (thankfully) no longer work in comic retail 24/7, I still keep my hand in and assist my former employer with the manga orders. I really try my best to maintain as diverse and full a stock of new titles as possible, and research new titles as they’re solicited as much as I can. But I don’t have an unlimited budget and manga is not the focus of the business, so cuts and exceptions have to be made. Occasionally I screw up. I never ordered any of the Project X books, for example, because I couldn’t imagine anyone possibly wanting to read a comic about the history of Cup Noodles. And then it became a hit with the discerning manga blogerati.

I’ve got a pretty good grasp, otherwise, about what does and does not sell to our customers. Manga novels don’t sell. Sports manga don’t sell. So-called “global manga” titles don’t sell. A few Korean titles will sell every once in awhile, but the “original English language” stuff is almost always dead on arrival. So I keep in mind the types of material customers won’t buy at the store when I set the order numbers.

But a great way to keep orders down on certain titles, or entire lines, is to pull stupid, un-friendly to comics retailer moves. I’ve been very impressed with Go Comi’s line of books, particularly their production values. But I won’t order any of their titles that have been Borders exclusives. Why should I? Anyone who wants them has already had four or five months to buy them at Borders. We haven’t carried anything from Net Comics either, because, as I said earlier, Korean comics tend to be a tough sell with our customers and they solicited something like twelve first volumes their first month in existence. That was simply too much at once on unknown properties from a new publisher. I may start ordering some of their material, now that I’ve had a chance to see it for myself elsewhere, but I have no regrets for not letting them flood our shelves early on.

And now I have to decide what to do, if anything, about Tokyopop. I’m extraordinarily upset about this latest move of theirs. They’ve always been a bit of a nuisance to deal with, from an ordering and budgeting angle. They put out too much at once, their section in Previews is a mess, and now doesn’t even include descriptions for anything more than one or two volumes old, and their production values are somewhat lacking in comparison to almost all their still in business competitors.

My first impulse, honestly, is to simply stop ordering any Tokyopop titles outside of what we need to fill pull-lists. Why should I take a chance on ordering a new series from Tokyopop if, two or three volumes later, they might decide that it isn’t selling what they think it should be and make it an online exclusive item? Why should I attempt to build an audience for a title in the store if Tokyopop could decide that they’d rather cut out the middle-man and sell the title direct themselves? And what do I tell customers already buying a title when Tokyopop decides to take it exclusive?

I’ll probably have to talk with the rest of the people who work at and operate the store before I come to a final conclusion, but I have a hard time imagining that anyone is going to have an opinion about what to do that’s far different from my first impulse. Tokyopop really did a lot to usher in the current manga marketplace in the U.S., but their actions since then have been frustrating and baffling and have burnt out a lot of people’s goodwill towards the company.

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