www.comicbookdaily.com has drummed up a little controversy over a resent article. Blog ‘Whosoever Holds this Hammer’ posted a quite scathing review of many local comic book shops, calling for consumers to rise up against poor service, and poorer hygiene. When speaking of local stores, the blog explains:
If your store is a sweat filled hobbit cave stop going. If you store doesn’t employ at least one woman stop going. And if your store doesn’t provide you with the basic level of customer service that you could get at a McDonalds definitely stop going. Put these dinosaurs of the comic book world out of business and only frequent the good shops.
Anthony Falcone is not advocating the decimation of the local shop, but believes comic book stores should be held to the same standards of commerce as any other business. Why should nerds have to make do with less?
Edit: Kevin Boyd responds to the reponse.
While understanding his point, Kevin Boyd and Rob Haines of the Shuster Awards (The Canadian Comic Book Awards) took issue with Falcone’s tone and agenda.
Rob Haines responds to the article (in the comments section) saying;
While I have strong opinions of what a comic book store should strive for, opinions I expressed as a recent guest on the very same Comic Culture radio show/podcast, Mr. Falcone comes across far too angry and mean spirited.
Frankly, harping on the physical appearance of a sterotypical comic retailer is not productive, actually, it’s a non-starter in my opinion. Rubenesque, ape, ignorant, overweight, chronic flatulence, these are the descriptors Mr. Falcone has applied to comic book retailers. Unproductive baiting at least. Needlessly hurtful words, definitely.
Today Falcone has responded with a second post, clarifying his position and is in no way backing down. He directly responds to the Shuster representatives say:
Kevin notes that he doesn’t advocate stopping to shop at a store altogether, but that customers should work with retailers to keep business going. No. I am sorry but you are wrong Kevin. It is not the customer’s duty to mention that a store is dirty, prices too high, and customer-service poor. It is solely on the shoulders of the retailer to provide a good experience for the customer. The customer should not have to ask for basic common-sense treatment.
As an employee at a local comic book shop, this argument is interesting to me. I understand where Anthony Falcone is comic from. The stereotype for a comic book store is a dark, dank pit–a basement closest with no windows and no room to move. These stores exist. I’ve shopped there. I’ve tripped over boxes and knocked over precariously placed merchandise. I’d rather frequent a store where people made an effort to know my name (I again apologize to all my customers whose names I just can’t remember). I’d rather work in a shop with big windows, a warm atmosphere, and a variety of products (and I do). But I know sometimes it’s not possible. Robert Haines makes a good point too. We may love comics, buy comics, and generally worship at the altar of comics, but it’s still a niche market. Batman may make a ton of money at the box-office but not all of those people (really only a tiny percentage) have jumped on the comic band wagon. Some stores just don’t make enough to hire many employees. They can’t buy bigger stores and are forced to cram their merchandise into every conceivable space.
This however, doesn’t justify lack of service. Before Moving, I frequented a small store in a relatively small city. There were a few boxes here and there. Reduced price toys were piled in the corner. There was room enough to circle the back issue bins, but not much else. New comics were organized well. Trades and graphic novels were packed tightly onto a few long shelves and a spinner rack held favourites like Sandman and Fables. It wasn’t perfect but the owners did what they could to make the store inviting. What made it great was the staff, and by staff I mean the owners plus family. Friendly, fun, willing to talk, and joke and tell stories-It makes a difference. Even now, and it’s been two years since I was a regular customer, they ask me what I’ve been up to, question my choices in schooling, and tell me all the gossip I’ve missed since the last time. The people make all the difference.
So for all you retailer out there, whether or not you can afford the retail space, or the time to re-price countless numbers of back issues, please please please take a look at your staff. A smiling face when you walk in the door, a ‘hello’, a short chat about the latest issue of Brightest Day, or baffled banter about vampire X-men: It helps. Comic Book Staff-Leave your baggage at home. Customers can tell when you have a superiority complex, or exasperated by the number of times you had to re-shelve Walking Dead. Suck it up. We all have bad days, and there are those customers you can share that with. But not everyone wants to be pulled into your problems, judged, or flat-out ignored because you’re having a bad day. It’s common courtesy. Come on, we work at a place where we get to read good stories, look at beautiful artwork, and talk nerdy until our heart’s content. We have the Nerd Dream Job! Yes Mr. Haines, I’m a Nerd, and I’m taking it back. 🙂
EDIT: The discussion Continues. Kevin Boyd reponds to Anthony Falcone’s latest post HERE
What are your feelings about local comic shops? Horror stories? Fantastic places I should visit? Do you think these articles have a point or are just trying to creat controversy? Leave a comment.