Something that I have been planning on doing soon is compiling an etiquette/survival guide for comic book stores. Now I'm fairly sure this has been done before and by finer people than myself, which is actually part of the point that I will get to later. Most of the time when I read anything about 'how to run a friendly comic book store', it usually makes a lot of sense but focuses on a lot of things that to me are a given. For example, don't be a douchbag. Make it a friendly and inviting environment for kids and women. Clean the damn place. Y'know, basic stuff.
What I feel tends to be missing is a sense of actually understanding what kind of work goes behind the scenes in this type of industry and the people who are on the front lines. I'm kind of hoping of going into a lot of different topics and addressing them from both a retailer's point of view as well as a customer's. For example, I may choose something as store presentation and examine what a customer might perceive as a good store and then examine what priorities a retailer might have versus the actual ability of that retailer to achieve them (via funding, time, management, available workforce).
Now anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time might be familiar with a few details about myself; I get pissed off a lot. I'm kind of cranky. I get touchy about the way people judge comic book stores without allowing for a discussion. My life goal is to destroy this planet. I like monkeys.
Those fundamental aspects of my personality might help you to understand the following basic stance I have about how a retailer should operate in this industry:
As a retailer, you should do everything in your ability to create a healthy, polite, and inviting atmosphere so as to promote this medium and your own business for the sake of its survival. HOWEVER. You need to keep in mind that an alarmingly large portion of your customer base are A) ignorant of how your business and this industry work, and are generally B) greedy, rude, selfish, socially maladjusted dumb asses who need to be savagely beaten from time to time.
Unfortunately, you are not legally allowed to administer said beatings. So you have to realize one all important facts otherwise you will have a mental breakdown at some point. You can't make everyone happy all of the time, so screw it. Let's go get a drink.
Some stores have the funds to look awesome and are cool with awesome customer service. Some have the funds to look cool and are operated by complete assholes. Some are huge messes run by nice guys. Some are huge messes run by creepy hippies. I work in a store that while not really pretty it is not a huge honkin' mess either. We have to balance the aesthetics with the quality of service and find a nice middle ground where you don't really mind the concrete floor and just care about dealing with friendly people who will help you find some comics.
We are by no stretch perfect, but then neither are you.
That's pretty much all the context you'll really need for the future. Let me give you two short examples just to illustrate the way I'll be doing this guide thingy.
Example one: Mistakes are made often times by both parties.
A) We accidentally gave you Angel instead of Amazing Spider-Man in your subscription one week since they are right next to each other in the pull boxes. We switch it out, or worse case scenario is we are out of Amazing Spider-Man and we have to reorder it for you. Sorry about that, we screwed up.
B) This customer keeps telling me he's been missing books every single visit for the better part of 2 months . He gets a number of titles that always have variant covers or reprints, as well as any and all Ender's Game titles which can be a bit confusing at times. Each time I help him find what he thinks is missing, but he seems kind of agitated. After a month though I have to question the situation because seriously, we can not suck at this that bad. Sure there is human error but for this level of mistakes we would really have to suck.
So he comes in again, and says 'can I tell you something?' I go sure. He proceeds to tell me that he just worked through his comic boxes after moving for the past few months, and he has duplicates of every single book he complained about. We filled the subscription right, but because he wasn't checking the variants and actual issue numbers (because seriously, every cover to Ender's Game looks the same) he assumed the worst and doubled up.
Most guides are pretty much one sided and just tell a retailer how they should behave. They never seem to actually prep you for the sheer stupidity you have waiting ahead of you. So what I was hoping for in the longterm was that I can touch on a great number of subjects and try to give both examples of how not to be a douchbag as a retailer and as a customer.