Comic Store In Your Future: Getting Rid of the Dead Shoplifters Before the Secret Shopper Arrives

Posted by December 15, 2017 Comment

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics, writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here.

Once again we passed Diamond’s Secret Shopper test. Out of all the vendors and businesses that I deal with only Diamond makes me spend money for a Secret Shopper program. The trust between Diamond and the people they supply comics with is so strong that Diamond feels they need to make the stores they deal with pay to be policed. I feel safer already.

[Rich adds: Ever since Diamond Comics started providing comic books to comic stores across the industry the day before official release, they have run a Secret Shopper programme to ensure that stores maintain the correct sales date and don’t try and aim to get one up on the competition by selling the comics a day early. Stores that get their comics a day early (which is most of them) pay $5 a week towards funding this. But not everyone is keen. Take it away, Rod…]

The questions to the secret shopper were as followed:

Was the assigned title/issue number available? No

Were the store hours posted, or did you have to inquire about them? Posted

Please specify their store hours (days and times)

Monday- closed
Tuesday 12 – 8
Wednesday 11 to 8
Saturday 11 to 7
Sunday 12- 5

“General Information” Comments about the Location:

The exterior of the building was clean. From the outside, the blinds were pretty much closed so you could not see what was inside without entering the building. The store hours were clearly posted in neon right by the door. I did not have a clear shot of the front of the building, so the picture is from a side view somewhat because a parked car was obstructing the view.

What someone had parked their car in front of the store to come in? How dare they!?!?  The posters of the Hulk and Justice League along with a sign having the word “comics” in it wasn’t a hint of what was sold inside the building? That would explain all the people coming in asking if we sell DVDs! Thank you Secret Shopper for saving the day.

Were you greeted when you entered the location?   Yes

If YES, please specify what was said.  Hi, can I help you with anything today?

Was it easy to figure out where the new releases for the week are located?  No.

I am not sure what to comment on for that one. The new releases have the words “New Release” right under them.

Please specify the titles of the comic books you were to find. X-Men Blue and Star Wars POE Dameron

Please specify the issue numbers of the comic books you were to find. 16 and 21 respectively

Why not combine these last two questions?

Were these specific title(s) and issue(s) available on the shelves?   Yes

What?

If applicable, please specify where it was located.  Other

If other or different shelf, please specify here.

Both of these issues were located in close proximity to each other on a table in the middle of the store.

Was the employee who assisted you friendly? Yes

Well then, I guess I will keep her for another week.

Was the employee who assisted you helpful and focused on you?  Yes

Whoa! Keep this up and she is going to want a raise.

Name/description of employee who assisted you on sales floor:

Name:   n/a

Sex:       Female

Height range: 5′ 5″ approx..

Age range: late 20s to early 30s

Other distinguishing characteristics:   dark short hair

Not sure why all that info is needed. The report says the date they stopped by. It isn’t like, say for payroll purposes I don’t know who is and who isn’t working. Though I do wish I was there because after all these years of secret shoppers I would really like to deal with them again. I really want to see what would happen if I sold them issue 15 and 21. Respectively of course.

“Inquiry” Comments:

The employee did not have on a name tag and I did not inquire her name as to not appear suspicious. I was the only customer in a very small shop and I am not familiar with comic books so I gave the impression I was Christmas shopping for a nephew. The new releases did not appear to be clearly marked, but both of the issues I was assigned were on the same table in the middle of the floor so I assume that is where they put new issues. Both issue were on display with plenty available, but she did indicate I could not purchase them until tomorrow.

What my employee didn’t have her name tag on stating where she lives and her social security number? She is done.

The Secret Shopper was trying to be deceiving? Shocking! They are always so honest and helpful. My faith in humanity is over with.

Um, that table is the back issue bins that the comics go on after they have been received before they go on the shelf. They do not arrive in alphabetical order. Heck, if there are variant covers to the same issue often times they are in different boxes if Diamond bothered to send them at all.

Did this location use a POS system (cash drawer with computer monitor) or a standalone cash register?    POS (cash drawer with computer monitor)

Were you thanked and/or given a sincere parting comment?    Yes

Oh, that sincere parting comment better have been come back when you are actually going to buy something you secret shopper!

“Purchase” Comments

The associate was friendly and helpful. As I looked around, she immediately pointed me in the right direction of the issues I was looking for. She was busy straightening and stocking when I entered the establishment.

Thank god for the secret shopper. It’s always helpful when we are busy to deal with them instead of doing something actually productive.

Description of the store layout:

The cash register was a flat screen computer monitor located right in the middle of the back of the store. There were plenty of displays to view, but no TV in the store. It was a quiet atmosphere with no music or noise. The store was fully stocked and appeared very tidy. There were tables set up in an orderly fashion making aisles that had plenty of room to move between them. It was well-lit and didn’t have any debris, trash, or unpleasant smell with in the environment. The only drawback would be that if the comics were in some type of category or title groups, they weren’t clearly marked that way, so a newbie like myself may have to ask for help. There were no gaming tables seen.

Sigh, I still think those “tables” are actually back issue bins.  At least we got the dead bodies of the shoplifters off the floor before she came in.

Was there at least one T.V.  in the store.         No

Diamond if you are so concerned about a T.V. in my store feel free to send me one.

Was the floor free of debris?          Yes

Were the shelves orderly and well stocked?   Yes

Was the store free of boxes on the floor/ and or stacked against the wall?    Yes

Actually surprised on that one sense the secret shopper came in on of course on a Tuesday and that is when we are usually taking care of the comic shipment and have boxes that need to be tossed.

Was the store well lit?      Yes

Was exterior signage visible?     Yes

Was the exterior of the store clean and free debris? (If in mall, refer to the immediate entrance of the store.)  Yes

Were there gaming tables in use and/or were customers playing games while you were there?      No

Why is this even a question? Management wouldn’t know already if people were playing games in their store?

“Image” Comments

There was no TV on display or in use in the store. There were also no gaming tables visible or in use at the time of my visit. I was not able to take interior photos as I was with feet of the employee at all times.

That’s right secret shopper. Watching you like a hawk! Acting all weird like a shoplifter gets you watched like a shoplifter. Maybe I will keep the “employee” after all.

Have you been to this location before?    No

Did you feel comfortable in this location during your visit today?    Yes

Please comment on why or why not.

Yes, I felt comfortable because the associate did not make me feel bad for trying to purchase comics I was unable to. She just said I could come back tomorrow to get them so I didn’t feel intimidated at all.

How would you describe your prior knowledge of comic books of comic books and graphic novels?

I had no idea that there were specific releases dates for certain issues of comic books. I did not know they had such variety of comics either. I thought before I did this shop that comics were almost obsolete. So my knowledge is very limited.

What someone working for Diamond Comics that doesn’t know much about comics? Say it ain’t so!  I never thought I would see the day. One would think instead of comic stores spending over $200 a year on the secret shopping service we could use that money to help educate others about comics. Such as the fact that comics aren’t “almost obsolete. ”

“Overall Impression” Comments

My overall impression of this store is that it was a very one on one business. I feel that if someone wanted to legitimately make a purchase because of his/her own personal hobby or interest that he/she would get one-on-one attention. They would have the most recent selections available and also find help from an honest employee.

Honest employee? I guess we will keep her. I hear the owner is a dishonest person that makes Loki look like a saint so that would be a good balance.

Whew, the last secret shopper of 2017. Looking forward to all the help the Secret Shopper and Diamond will bring the comic industry in 2018.

(Last Updated December 15, 2017 12:34 pm )

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