Monday, May 4, 2009

Free Comic Book Day War Journal: Aftermath

So as you could guess from the last post, FCBD was horribly busy. Every FCBD has been great for us traffic and business wise, especially since we always add a little sale and usually have someone signing or have a bunch of stormtroopers on the sidewalk. Those guys do wonders for off the street traffic (and car accidents, but y'know, whatever).

This year, however, was just crazy. We opened 15 minutes before our usual time and were greeted with a slow trickle of customers. About another twenty minutes into that you could not walk across the store. So much humanity. Like a never ending wave of....humanity. Two of us behind the counter with two out on the floor, and the flow of customers at the register was non-stop. Every time I left the register to help on the floor, I was bombarded and helping virtually every person I came across.

We pretty much doubled up on our free comics this year and put in a bunch of overstock on top of it. Yeah, that lasted till about 3:00pm and I might be generous saying that. We did let people take a total of 8 books each, so we were expecting to run out fairly fast. I got on the phone to see if I could send people to other stores and found out that at least one of them had already been sending people down our way. By 3pm we actually had to refill the free books with extra inventory we just had on hand that we were expecting would become overstock anyway (CURSE YOU, TRINITY).

No one really complained though, because even when we were out of the FCBD kids books (Sonic, Archie, Owly, DC Kids, Melvin the Monster) I just started pulling some books from our kids spinner(Tiny Titans, Marvel Adventures) and passing those out. So while I am tempted to bump our quantities for next year, 4 hours worth of free inventory ain't bad, especially considering we were supporting the traffic of a few other stores as well towards the end there.

I can't help but be flabbergasted by people who come in at like 6pm expecting us to have a full compliment of the official FCBD books. Nobody bitched us out, but you could tell they were disappointed.

What's also interesting is that we didn't actually have the 501st Legion stormtroopers show up. They were supposed to but due to some sort of scheduling snafu only one guy showed up. We had an Imperial Officer greeting customers at the door, and I have to say that dude was a trooper. By himself, when all the customer were expecting Boba Fett and clonetroopers, and in the rain. This dude stuck it out for like 6 hours and was cheerful as hell and posing for pictures and making kids smile. If the Empire had more guys like Chuck, those dirty rebel scum wouldn't have had a chance.

That's the other thing. It was raining a lot, and traffic was horrible due to construction in numerous key spots. Yet with all these problems, we still had the best showing and best sales in the entire history of all our FCBDs.

Now all of that being said, I do plan to either throw myself down a flight of stairs or jump into traffic before next years event. Because seriously. Everyone was lucky I didn't pull out the death cannon within the first 5 minutes.

Anyone have any good FCBD stories or were you happy with the selection this year?
I'm always interested to hear peoples take on it.


Frank Lee Delano said...

I gave up brick and mortar for mail order years ago, but my virtual shop started forcing me to pay $5 extra UPS shipping if I ordered a Previews. Moronic, whether decided in-house or by USPS, so I've opted to pick one up at a ship near my girlfriend's house instead. It was actually the last physical shop I subscribed at, but under different management. I still don't like it much, though, and typically just raid their cheapie bins.

We happened to show up on FCBD, because those UPS fucks didn't show at my place until 7:45 p.m. Friday night to confirm my lack of Previews. The shop is small, but had security to insure only one free comic per customer and a lengthy schpiel about the merits of a lousy fuckin' 10-15% discount subscription service.

I took about five FCBD comics anyway, figuring I'd pay some nominal fee for the extras. I also picked up $2 worth of dime comics. The clerk was supposed to charge me $1 each for the FCBD books, which I o.k.'d, but he then waived the exorbitant fee (wholesale each is what, a dime? A quarter?) I thought he was being a good guy, but I suspect my girlfriend's having secretly bought me a $75 Golden Age Captain America two-volume hardcover slipcase set might have factored in.

In conclusion, I don't overly much care about FCBD, and I'm glad I don't have to deal with gaming geeks and obnoxious kids on the regular. I'll maybe attend again if I'm still forced to buy my Previews at a shop proper, but will likely try a larger chain like Bedrock City next time.

Continually Spicy said...

Interesting. I really don't get the 1 book limit, and charging for extra books is just kinda....evil? Yeah, I'm going with evil I think.

Here's the thing. FCBD is costly if the store participating actually orders a healthy amount of books. The benifits outweigh the cost though, without a doubt.

10-15% is kinda....dinky. If a store is going that low on a subscription service, there had better be some additional benifit. Especially with the cost of books these days and the economy.

joe bloke said...

I gave up. I had a wander down my regular comic shop, took one look at the crowd, and went to the pub.

Frank Lee Delano said...

This is why I mail order. I get several times the discount offered at most actual shops, and any inclination I had toward receiving weekly comics or talking shop was tortured out of me through eight years of retailing drudgery. Most importantly, were all of the above to suddenly change, there's still way better stores in town I could go to.

In their defense though, it looked like the shop carried a few of everything FCBD, quite a commitment for a small place. I picked up Attack of the Alterna Zombies Volume 1, and considered a bunch of other indies before I knew they were charging extra. I wouldn't have pillaged the lot, but I'd have liked to have tried more of the obscure stuff nobody else likely wanted. Their clients are mostly gamers and super-hero freaks, after all. Whatever-- I'll buy them out of the cheapie boxes in the coming months, I'm sure.