Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Every Wednesday a Christmas.

I get over 2/3rds of my product each week on Wednesdays.

It's fun to open the boxes, to reveal the shiny array of new toys and books, games and cards. All the cool stuff, nestled in the wrappings and popcorn. Lifting out a stack of comics to find that really neat looking toy. Seeing the cover of the new Star Wars comic just pops. Leafing through the new art book of fantasy drawings.

Every week seems to have it's own surprises -- some item that is way cooler in the real world than I expected. (Why didn't I order more of this!)

Or something that looked really cool in the catalog but is way lamer in the real world. (Why on earth did I order that?)

I never know for sure what's going to arrive each week. Shipping dates are all well and good, except when the publishers don't bother to follow them. (Which seems like about half the time.)

I'll often have a customer inform me that something is out, when I know for a fact it hasn't arrived. I call it the Unicorn Effect. I tell them I can sell a Unicorn over the internet, but if I tried to sell them a Unicorn in my store they'd demand to see it.

Way back in March, DC offered a really cool Joker bust, for 300.00. (I even profiled it on my Pegasus Blog). I got all enthused and ordered 3 copies (which is way, way more than I usually order; indeed, I rarely order expensive statues at all.) The movie came and went. Heath Ledger's interpretation of the Joker supplanted the older classic version, and finally this week they tell me I can lower my orders if I want.

So I canceled them.

I'm going to play as few of these 'preorder and be damned' games with the distributors as possible, dammit.

You want to wait until the peak selling time has passed, and then deliver during the slowest time of year? Keep it.

In fact, I've made the momentous decision to quit preordering most of my game and card product at all. I just don't have anyone left who is paying attention to the newest card releases...Sad, but true.

I'll just wait to see what comes out each week, observe the lay of the land and my bank balances, and decide if or when I want something. I couldn't do that in the old days for a couple of reasons. First, there was only so much stuff being released and I needed all of it. Second, I always risked being unable to get the product due to sell-outs.

Neither is really a problem these days. Now the only advantage to preorders is that it's just a bit more convenient to put an order in advance and forget about it. But the inability to control the arrival of the product now outweighs the convenience of preorders in my opinion.

It will require a bit more work on my part, keeping track of what's been released.

I can't really go this route with comics. Marvel and DC (about 80% of the monthly comics) have instituted a 'Final Order Cut-off' (FOC) which is only a couple of weeks before shipping instead of the old standard 2 months. Some stores are ordering all their comics this way; but it seems kind of risky to me. I'm afraid of being FOC'ed if you will.

Still, I'm going to need to spend a bit more time every Tuesday looking over my orders on the FOC, and seeing if there are any comics that didn't perform up to expectations and shaving them a bit.

There's a bit more incentive (and a bit more time on my hands) to fine-tune the orders, cut down on the waste.

I'm not too worried about running out of stuff to sell.

Wednesday arrives every week, and I get a whole new batch of product.

And it's still a blast to open those boxes.

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