Comic Store in Your Future: Walmart and DC Make Money, So Why Can't I?

Comic Store in Your Future: Walmart and DC Make Money, So Why Can’t I?

Posted by August 7, 2018 Comment

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics writes weekly (or more) for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here.

When I write these columns, they are meant, at times, to make people think. Heck, I write these at times to push myself. To remember. A previous column was about Walmart’s exclusive 100-Page Giants. I knew it would not be popular with everyone. After years of being in business, I have noticed some people think comic stores are not a business. I have seen some comic stores and gaming stores open and the owners treat it as a hobby. One even said to me once that he is not in it for the money. That is great, though having an actual retirement plan other than to sponge off others until they die is far more responsible.

When I first wrote about Walmart’s exclusives, I never thought they would be selling for over cover price online. When I wrote about wanting the box the comics come in, because it had old school art from a Superman storyline I liked, I didn’t think the box would be worth anything either.

I went to two Walmart stores and picked up some of what was there. Some people seem to think that every Walmart was raided of every copy ever printed, and the sellouts destroyed any child ever being able to get into comics ever. But both of the stores I went to had every issue of the comics. At the second one, I picked up two copies and not a single copy had been sold before that.

There are plenty of Walmarts in central Iowa. When I first picked them up at the first Walmart, I did so because I wanted them on hand at my store for anyone who wanted them. I did not think they were in demand for over cover price. There were plenty at both Walmarts I went to, and reports had them as coming out the day before.

I called a friend in Omaha, Nebraska, who later checked his Walmart and said they also had every copy available. I looked on eBay after getting back to the store and must have had too long or detailed of a search, because I did not find any. I threw a set on eBay starting at $29.99 and was pleasantly surprised they sold for $39.99 with Buy It Now. I then tried new searches and found out they were going for more than that. I threw a few single issues on and sold them. I also had issues here in store that all sold here for $6. No one complained — everyone who bought them in store was thrilled to be able to get a copy. One person came back a second time wanting to buy the Justice League 100-Page Giant after skipping it the first time, now upset that someone had bought it before he did.

To those that are going “but you made a dollar off them!” Please — $4.99 with tax means I paid over $5 to make less than a dollar. A terrible way to make money. I did not force anyone on eBay to bid or pay for any of the auctions. People were willing to pay the amounts they did. Why are people buying these comics on eBay? Because they want them. Here is a thought: they may even be buying them to read or for kids.

This comment I read was amazing:

Ah, so you and people like you are the reason I couldn’t find any copies of the Superman and Teen Titan comics for my 7-year-old son. He enthusiastically DEVOURED the Batman and Justice League comics and I would have gladly bought him the other two had they not been sold out.

Thanks for making sure the target audience couldn’t purchase this product at a reasonable price, so the neckbeards of the world would be able to line your pockets and get some “collectible”.

And people wonder why comics shops are dying out.

How does he know who bought what, for what reason? That would be like me saying he is the reason kids are so selfish and entitled. Only one parent in the USA bought these? No other parents bought any before he got there? Somehow, he just knows?  No other comics in the world are available for an entitled kid? What happened? Would he allow another adult to buy these for heaven forbid themselves to read? Is this person’s money somehow better than others’? These comics are only for his kid? Only Walmart sells comics now? Getting their kid into reading comics is only worth $4.99 and it has to be the two that were sold out? That is terrible. Kids being told they are entitled. Where was he when Walmart started selling three comics for $5 in three-packs? A kid isn’t worth an extra penny?

Comic shops are dying out because a kid did not get two comics at Walmart? That is unreal. One would think comic stores would have more of a selection for comics than a Walmart. My store is not dying out.

To those that said, “but DC did this for the kids!” They did not do it for kids.  They are for existing readers and new. New does not equal kids. There are still copies at Walmarts. DC did this to make money.

I am not typing this up as an apology or trying to paint myself as a good person but to educate. Why do businesses exist? To make money. Why are there comic stores? Because there are people making money off of comics. Why is Walmart selling exclusive comics? To make money. Why did DC do exclusive comics for Walmart? To make money.

Here is a shocker… why does Rodman Comics exist? Because it makes money. Why do I keep Rodman Comics going? Most likely for the same reason yourself and others work. To make money.

When new comics come in every Wednesday, comic stores pay less than cover price for them. They are selling them to make money.

My customers are a priority. My options, when I was surprised to find them still at the first Walmart here in Ankeny, were to leave them and just tell my customers that they are at Walmart and hope they are still there when they come up, or buy the ones that were still in near-mint shape and sell them directly. I did not think, when I made it in to Walmart, I would find any, nor did I know they were going for over retail. The part in the previous article when I said that I left the non-near mint copies was ignored. Like kids or people wanting to read them will only want mint copies.

When I first opened my store over seven years ago, one of the many mistakes I made was having so many free things. Free Magic the Gathering gaming, free Dungeons & Dragons, board games nights for free, free Heroclixs, and so on. I wasted money and time on people more than willing to freeload. I even told them I could make more working for minimum wage. They did not care. They would take me for all they could. I was enabling that. I lost money and could not keep losing money. I started only having gaming that people paid for. I then started making money on gaming. Cheap people, I learned, are not going to keep a store open.

As I stated in the past, money keeps the store going. Healthy amounts of cash on hand means the store can make donations. Donate comics to schools that are strapped for cash. Donate comics to the local movie theater during when a comic-based movie is out. Donate to charities. Years ago before the unemployment rate fell, we hired people who were down on their luck. It takes money.

Healthy amounts of cash on hand makes me happy. Cash on hand means I can replace things and buys things. Like an air conditioner or more glass cases. My love of comics was not and is not enough to keep the store going. When one buys something, either online or in store, odds are that sale is done at a profit.

Selling is a two-way street. Human nature is to want a deal, even at the cost of another person. If I was foolish enough, I could do huge discounts or even give away product and bleed money until I went out of business. There are plenty of people that would be all right with that — other than me, of course.

People do buy comics from our store because they are going for double or more online. On Wednesday, July 4th, Nightwing #46 sold out. I was puzzled since it sold out the day it came out for us, and I do not ever remember that happening. I had people from out of town visiting in that day, so I wondered if that was why it sold out. No, I came to find out that the variant cover by Ben Oliver was going for over double the cover price online. I thought the variant cover for Deathstroke #33 was going for over retail since people were buying multiples of it, and I thought it was a cool cover. I was wrong. How do I feel about people buying comics to flip online from me? Perfectly fine with me. His or her money is the same color as everyone else’s. The store exists to sell collectibles. When do statues get hot? When they go above retail online.

Rod Deals is a great sales day for us. People love them. Many people feel they are getting great deals, which is what we want. Many people think I am losing money when I do the sales, but I would not keep doing Rod Deals if it was losing money.

I am always puzzled why some people that buy all their comics online seem to hate local comic stores. Is there a feeling of guilt there? On the other hand, are they wondering why everyone is not doing the same as they are doing? Because some people get off their butts and can do human interaction. Do they feel lazy because others walk in a store to get their comics? Everyone is free to spend their money the way they want.

Now the question is: will the next round of exclusive Walmart comics be as big a deal? No idea. Like last time, once I read online that they are out I will try to make it to the local Walmart again and try to get at least some for my in-store customers. They really appreciated it.  The store’s bank account will really appreciate it if they are selling for a good penny again. If they are not and if Walmart just has stacks and stacks of them that, no one is buying, no will care, just like with the packs of three DC Comics bundled together for $5 that only Walmart has.

“In order to make a man or boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.”
― Mark Twain

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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(Last Updated August 7, 2018 12:31 pm )

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