Friday, July 3, 2009

Keeping vs. collecting.

The other misapprehension that people have about my store, besides that I am a kids store, is that I'm a collectible shop.

I stopped being this about 15 years ago. Most of the card collectors left, and then the people who were buying comics only to collect and then most of the toy collectors and so on and so on.

A common thread that ran through all this was those who really like a particular product for its own worth -- for instance, who enjoyed the art and storytelling of comics, who treated sports cards like bottle caps, who bought a toy to take it out of it's packaging and display on their bookshelf -- were consistent customers.

Collectors came and went.

I also no longer believe most collectibles are worth more money down the road. If I don't believe it, it would be unethical in my eyes to sell them on that basis.

Oh, I'm sure that there are many customers who buy comics with the intent to collect; but none of my current customers I'm aware of who don't read and enjoy, and then collect.

Collecting is what happens after the product leaves my store. If someone wants to do it, I don't hide that I don't buy back product.

Collecting is tricky word. It's more or less halfway between "investment" and enjoying and discarding. I usually don't recommend the former, but I can understand why someone would want to go ahead and keep and take care of what they purchased.

I think, in the back of their minds, they know it isn't worth a bunch of money, but they're probably hoping. Some of them want to pass them along to friends and family, or possibly to reread it someday.

All that is understandable.

But I don't buy off the street.

Partly this is a business decision based on space and time and money, and to make the best use of all those things. But it is also a personal choice not to haggle anymore. I got really tired of that.

There are great deals to be had, but there are also minefields of resentment and misunderstanding and just plain bad blood.

Buying from wholesalers bypasses that whole thing.

Besides, in my opinion, this market has moved mostly online, and what part hasn't moved online will soon move online and I'm just getting ahead of the curve.

The problem is, the vast, vast majority of former customers were 'collectors' (as I said, that may be why they are 'former customers...') Someone who tells me that they "used to" love comics or cards or toys or whatever. used to kind of "like" or maybe you did it out of "habit" or perhaps you were buying because your friends were. But if you LOVED comics, (or cards or toys or whatever), it seems unlikely that you would've quit and never looked back.

Think books. Readers tend to keep reading. Most of them don't believe the current books they are reading are an investment... tell me, you used to really love....comic, cards, etc. O.K. I'll give you that. You used to "love" comics, etc. You quit because it got too confusing or expensive or players use steroids, or the stories got bad, or your local dealer sucked, or whatever...

But that was at least 10 years ago for most of you who 'collected' comics. The glory days of cards peaked about 15 years ago. Toys peaked about 5 years ago.

So there are these huge bulges of "used to be" collectors. Chances are, if you come into the store and you aren't a current buyer, you are one of these people. And your mindset in no way reflects current reality.

My words are a garbled mess to you.

"How much is such and such worth?"

"I don't know..."

"What do you mean you don't know...?"

"You might want to try to sell it online...."

"But what is it worth?"

"I don't know....."

"What do you mean you don't know...?"

And around and around we go. I've had bigtime collectors come in my store and sneer at me. Fine. But they don't understand that I'm happier selling product that is new. I'm sure they think I'm a complete idiot. Fine. But I really don't want to haggle with them. The minute they say, "Do you have OLD..." anything, I'm pretty much looking for an out.

I think Wizard Magazine, the used-to-be price guide for comics, is near the end of its run. I know that Scrye and every other CCG priceguide has folded. Becketts are down to selling one or two per month. Investing, in my opinion, is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

There is just too much stuff. How can all of it be worth something?

But if you buy what you like and enjoy, how can you go wrong?

1 comment:

blackdog said...

Hey Dunc, I've got a George W. Bush Naval Aviator Action Figure, untouched condition in original box, issued to commemorate Captain Codpiece's landing on the deck of the carrier Abraham Lincoln to announce "Mission Accomplished." What am I bid?