Wednesday, November 22, 2017

#NotAllMen, Comic Book Stores Redux

When I get a private e-mail response to one of my posts, it's almost always a guy, and it almost always starts with, "I didn't want to get into it with you in public, but..."

The missive sent because of Monday's post about failing comic stores was my first official #NotAllMen response for this blog.

WOO-HOO! I finally got my feminist cred! *Snoopy dance*

The gist of this Particular Reader's missive was that his local comic shop was run by a woman and she mean to him.

First of all, I don't doubt Particular Reader's account of his encounter for a second. But there's a few things to keep in mind:

1) I never said women were better managers than men. I've ranted more than a few times on this very blog about Blue Willow Bookstore in Houston and the snotty female manager who got pissy with me because I wanted to buy a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. However, with the current slump in comic book sales and the closing rate of comics store, chasing away ANY behaving, money-in-hand customer is not a smart idea.

2) I'd like to point out that in the numerous independent comic books stores in five states and the District of Columbia that I've visited since 1988, only one was owned by a woman.

3) The two articles I mentioned in Monday's post regarding the comic store downturn were written by...wait...for...it...TWO WHITE DUDES! Now, if two white men can recognize a problem in the industry they cherish, maybe, just maybe, there is an actual PROBLEM!

4) If you're selling a particular type of merchandise that you're not intimate with to the point you can't answer a customer's questions, then you need to hire someone who is familiar. One of the people I mentioned yesterday was the little old lady who ran the Book Nook. She knew the DC and Marvel lines, but she wasn't as familiar with Dark Horse, Image, etc. She hired her nephew who was.

5) Going back to point #1, the owner of the Book Nook was a class act. Like I said Monday, she sold new and used romances as well as new and used comics.

One day back in the early ‘90’s, I’d taken the afternoon off for a doctor’s appointment, one of those things at 2pm where it’s not worth going back to the office. I stopped by the Book Nook on my way home. There was a display wall that partially divided the comics from the romance section. I was behind that wall when an older man came in.

Apparently, he’d come in during that quiet time on weekdays after the lunch crowd, but before school let out to pick up some romance books. He and the owner were discussing the latest Nora Roberts when I walked up with my stack of comics. Poor guy turned twelve shades of red when he realized someone else was in the store. (Have I told you how bigoted this town is?)

The owner didn’t bat an eye. She just turned to me asked for my romance suggestion. I said I preferred Harlequin’s Temptation line since it was a little more modern, but my grandmother swore by Debbie Macomber. Once he realized I wasn’t going to tease him about his reading choices, he chilled, and the three of us had a nice chat.

And that's what makes a good business owner who will get repeat patronage.

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