Sunday, June 11, 2006

Tricky Situation

This long weekend sees some of the premier events for collectors held in South Australia. Down at the Wayville Showgrounds you have the following: some clown selling dodgy bedding and other knock-off gear, the Mega Toy Swap Meet - always worth a look - and the even that we participate in, the Giant CD, DVD, Record and Comic Sale. All sounds good? Well there's one small problem this year - there's no comics.

We initially weren't going to go because of our Melbourne trip last week, but decided at the last minute that we would go, if only to dump some old stock and mainly to get rid of a pile of promotional CDs and some music magazines that have been accruing here since last year. So we phoned and said we'd take one table, for the Saturday only. Incredible as it sounds at such late notice we got booked in (we rang on the Thursday I think) and off we went. The television ads clearly say, "Giant CD, DVD, Record and Comic Sale!" Very loudly and very proudly. They even show oodles of comics being handled (not ours, another dealers) and it all looks very inviting. Normally we take two tables and stay the entire three days, but no more. It's too much hard work, long days and frankly it's not worth it, financially. At least two to three other dealers attend and they take anywhere from two to four tables each. Not this weekend.

Our one table was it.

We lost track of the amount of people who came up and said, "Where's all the comics? You mean, you're it??" Our answer, "Looks like it," clearly wasn't adequate enough, nor was the guy with a box of Mad Magazines going to cut it. One table is hardly a Giant Comic Sale, and we sold more CDs than comics, but then we only had 12 boxes to choose from, which soon got whittled down to 9 as trades and cheap comics leapt from the boxes. It was a good day for us but lots of angry people. We ended up saying to people, "Don't blame us - WE didn't run the ads." A cop-out to be sure, but faced with angry men wanting to know where all the cheap comics were for their young children, well, might as tell the truth - it wasn't our fault. It didn't help that a major dealer in the city itself was busily telling all and sundry who entered his store that there were no comics at the fair at all (hey - why cut into your own sales? I can understand that) and diverting people away from the show*. More anger. The Toy Swap Meet had a few comics, but as the main dealer there is a known crook** who used to run a shop, and has a tendency to buy comics for no more than 50 cents and sell them, regardless of condition, for two and half times the near mint guide value, well you can see why we didn't point people to him. It'd only have made things worse.

False advertisement? I don't know. All I know is that we weren't going to go because we wanted a break. Others don't go because some people down at the show itself have either pissed them off or they've been banned. At least one dealer won't go because he wants a better deal, ie: cheap tables or free tables - again, understandable, you get what you can after you bend the organisers over a barrel. Not my style, but for some people it's the perfect way to work. A variation on the 'buy low, sell high' syndrome. I expect that particular dealer will indeed be getting some cheap tables in the future. However if you advertise then you need to have the product that the bodies want. It didn't help things to hear that people, upon walking in and paying their $5 entry, were asking, "So there's heaps of comics here today?" and getting the answer at the door, "Yes!" It'll be worse today because there's pretty much no-one down there with comics - just a guy with a box of Mad Magazines and that just doesn't cut the mustard. Tomorrow, well...that'll be just like today.

The odd thing is, as we left yesterday we were made to feel that it was our fault that there'd be no comics there. That it was down to us to be there for the three days (against our wills) and that any complaints about the lack of comics would be focused onto us. We did the organizers a favour by changing our plans on Saturday to attend, we intend on going back for a look around tomorrow (maybe today if we get time) and I'm sure we'll cop a bit of abuse. Perhaps we'll be banned from entering. All because the show is advertised as having comics and because we couldn't do the entire three days.

But then the prospect of another two days answering angry people asking where the hell are the rest of the comic books just doesn't appeal to us. I'm not sure who's to blame, but I am sure that we're not to blame - it's not our fault, we didn't run the ads, nor did we charge people to get in (the second most common complaint was: "You charged me $5 to get in for this?" Us: "No, WE didn't charge you anything.")

Mind you, if you're around the place then go right in - loads of cheap CDs and DVDs. We picked a few up, including a copy of Once Upon A Time In The West for a mere $10 - more on that later. Just don't expect to find many comics.

* Said dealer doesn't appear to like me much anyway and takes any opportunity to run me down. Me? I like the guy. He's a fun guy to speak to, his wife is wonderful and there's been a lot of chuckles over the years. However I expect that part of the reason for him saying what he said was to keep people away from us. Why? Because they might find items priced a lot cheaper, which people did. We lost track of the amount of people who'd pick up a USD$15 trade paperback and say, "You only want $20 (AUST) for that? Comic shops in the city charge $30 to $40 upwards for the same thing!" Same thing with a lot of the fully priced comics we have, or, more to the point, had. Hence we sold more than we expected to and we didn't have enough of certain titles - time to restock. I suspect, and had a few people close to him tell me this, that said dealer believes that if he's not at a function then there's no comics of any worth there. Good for him - he does have good stock, but the only monopoly he has is a board game, not a reality.

** The less said about this grasping, fat little man the better. If you know Adelaide then you know him - he recently closed down his shop, it was located well past the East End of Adelaide. One of his favourite tricks is to not sell to other dealers - you can pick a comic up and if you ask the price he'll take it away and say it's not for sale. He also specialises in selling incomplete, torn and otherwise ruined comics to kids for the maximum Overstreet price, doubled with an extra 50% on top and telling them that the books are mint and will accrue in value. They don't.


Zaphod Beeblebrox said...

Looks like you at least made a profit this time. I remember you telling me that it wasn't worth it financially for you to bother with this show.

Danny said...

Generally it isn't. However I suspect that the fact that we were the only ones selling comics there, along with us finally having the right blend of stuff to sell meant that we were always going to make a profit. A well needed profit to boot.

The thought process is now that we'll go to future shows, but only do the one day - the extra two days of relaxation was appreciated, Sunday saw us visiting family and I was up at 4am today chatting with Mike Royer. If I had to do the show then there'd be no way known I'd be able to have made that phone call.

Still, we popped back in today for a look and were told that the organisers are seriously thinking of not having comic dealers there in the future due to a major dealer saying they'd be there, booking four tables and then withdrawing on Thursday. If he'd been there, along with us, then there'd have been no fuss, but as it stands it's an ill wind that blows and I suspect that the no-shows will impact upon future shows.