View from the Game Store is a bi-weekly column by Marcus King, Director of Retail Operations at Troll and Toad Games & Comics in London, Kentucky.  This week, King takes us through what he does to run his retail comic operation for one week.

I've been selling comics for more than a dozen years.  This time.  I had sold them from 1999 through 2001, gave it up and got back into it in 2003.  Here is the actual cycle I went through a couple weeks back.  Doing comics correctly is a struggle; it's work.  You plan months out, then weeks out, then after your delivery, each and every week, you begin a reorder cycle for hot titles.  With about 800 titles being offered every month, there are around 150+ titles which come out every week.  My shop, in a town of 8000 people, has 200+ subscribers.  The average subscriber gets 6 comics.  So, 1200 comics a month for subscribers.  About 10% of my subscribers drop every quarter, so I am constantly getting stuck with comics that age to the point of being unsellable before they ever go out on the shelf.

We carry about 150 titles on our rack, in quantities ranging from 2 to 20, for non-subscribers.  But, even though I count these titles weekly, we are always sold out of something on day one.  This is because I want to sell out within about 10 days of any title coming out.  Comics have a shelf life akin to milk: about 10 days, after which it is literally outdated.

Thursday:  From 8AM till 10AM, I sat down and did a cycle sheet count of all the comics I sold out of the day before.  Opened the store at 10AM, had lots of customers all day coming in to buy things, some of which we were sold out of.  Tried to sign them up for subscriptions for titles they could not find, so they would never miss another issue.  We had fourteen total customers wanting things we are sold out of, and signed up two subscribers.  I placed reorders for titles that people added to their subscription pull.  Delved into the new Diamond Liquidation list and bought some stuff, not much.  There were 200 line items offered; I bought five line items.

Friday:  Took the invoice email from Diamond Comics Distributor, copied it, pasted it into a Word doc.  Fiddled with it to leave only staff-pertinent information, shared that on my staff Facebook page to inform my staff of what would be in the next week.  Updated my new subscribers list, and my FOC order list.  Wrote one comic review.  All before breakfast.

Saturday:  Called subscribers who had not come in for at least 2 weeks.  Informed subscribers of the quantity of comics in their pull, offer to take credit card payment over the phone and ship for free.  Offer to take Paypal payment and ship for free.  Offer to hold for one more week before pick up.  Called 17 customers.  Three pay with CC, one with Paypal.  Seven ask to drop their subscriptions.  Total of 80 comics now pulled, and will likely never sell at cover price.

Sunday:  Do my Final Order Cut-off adjustment.  This takes three hours.  Starts with adding new subscribers to my subscriber lists, and adding their comics to my FOC list.  Then adding adjustments from established subscribers who want to add or drop titles.  Then, accessing the Diamond Comic Distriburos site and adjusting the titles for the next 30 days.

Monday:  My reorder for last week’s comics arrives.  Inventory package, report shortages to Diamond.  Pull copies for subscribers.  Put some copies on the new comics rack, where they will be the highlight until the new weekly comics go out on Wednesday.  Write a comic review and post that to the store Facebook page.  Reorganize the new comics rack to remove the “New this Week“ tags from comics we are sold out of.  Place weekly order for sold graphic novels.  Place weekly order for sold-out action figures, Pop figures, and other Diamond titles and items.

Tuesday:  I get to come in late, 9:30 a.m. since I have nothing to do from 7 a.m. ‘till 10 a.m.  Dink around all morning with other stuff until UPS drops off my Diamond order.  Eight large boxes, one smaller box, one long box with posters in it.  Excited, I open the box with the posters first and find: ONE poster.  Free.  Except the postage on the one box is about $6.  Frak.  Open the large box marked Invoice Enclosed.  Unload that, lots of action figures and POP! Vinyl, some smaller items, but find no invoice.  Open the heavy boxes, mostly comics and some graphic novels.  Continue to open large boxes until I find the invoice.

Once I find the invoice, I start inventorying items.  Pricing them for sale (the next day), and noting shortages.  Takes about two hours.  Then, we put the comics in alphabetical order, and start doing pulls for customers.  Some of the comics are replacements for previous damages, so we have to be careful not to add an additional copy to anyone's pull who already got that title, while still pulling them for subscribers who got shorted the first time.  This takes my wife and I 2.5 hours to do the comic pulls.  Then we bag and board all the pulls, and set them aside.  Kim then puts all the merchandise we receive into our POS system, and reports shortages to Diamond.  I immediately do a reorder for stuff we didn't have enough of.  And adjust my FOC numbers on items I had too many left after pulls.  Bookkeeping stuff.

Wednesday:  New Comics Day.  Come in at 7;30 a.m.  Remove older stuff from New this Week rack.  Put all Diamond toys, action figures, lunch pails, lamps and other items on the New this Week rack.  Put older stuff way.  Put graphic novels which were replacements for older sold stock away.  Put new comics on rack.  Tag those which are New First Issue.  Tag those that are New this Week.  Put new comics into subscriber pulls.

Open at 10 a.m.

First Customer of the New Comics Week:  A nice customer I always enjoy seeing.  I greet her with "Hey, good to see you," as I see her looking through her pull at the counter.  Her reply is, "Hey, I added Flash to my list two days ago, and it's not in my pull!  You guys clearly don't know what you're doing, so just cancel my whole pull, okay?"

Headdesk, facepalm.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of