Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne discusses some of the most common things retailers hear from customers in their stores.

There are a number of questions and comments every game and comic store owner hears on a regular basis.  Here is a list of comments I would be happy to never hear again:

  • "I know how much this (INSERT ITEM HERE) is worth; I looked it up online." This comes about when we are trying to buy collections for the store.  It is often followed by "You are trying to rip me off" when they hear our offer.  My first thought is usually, "Yes, you probably did, but the price you found is what I, and most other stores, are going to sell it for or you looked up the asking price rather than the price that people pay for the item. "  If we pay you that price, we cannot resell it and make a profit, which allows us to keep running the store.
  • "Do you price match?"  Admittedly, this is asked much less frequently than about five years ago, but we do still get it.  Since we do not get the volume discounts and guaranteed sale on products that the large chains and Amazon do, we cannot afford to match their prices.
  • "I have a large collection of comic books to sell.  They are all in the original bags and boards."  This is a comment generally made by someone that bought the contents of a storage unit and found several long boxes of bagged and boarded comics.  Unless the store you bought them from is one of the declining number of stores that bag and board all their comics before putting them out for sale, you have a collection of comics that someone else purchased and bagged and boarded.
  • "I have an original (INSERT ITEM HERE).  How much is it worth?"  Without seeing it, I have no idea.  Condition of any collectable item affects the value greatly.  That is why a graded comics sells for multiple times the value of an ungraded one.  A professional in the field has evaluated the item and says that, in their expert opinion, on a scale of 1 to 10, this comic has this level of wear and damage.
  • "It’s in mint condition."  Unless you are an expert, it is probably not.  A slight crease, a chip in the spine can significantly affect the grade.  Evaluating the quality of a collectable item is what graders are trained to do and they will spot flaws that the average eye will overlook.
  • "You know what you need to do/carry?"  Yeah, probably.  There is likely a good reason why we do not carry that product or do whatever it is you are suggesting.  I have lost track of the number of people who have asked us to run Magic: The Gathering Legacy tournaments or told us why we should run Magic Legacy tournaments.  Every time we have scheduled a Magic Legacy we have one person who comes in, wanders around for a bit, asks where the other players are and wanders off.
  • "Man, it must be nice to read comics/play games all day."  Yeah, it would be.  Unfortunately, we do not get to do that here.  We spend almost all our time waiting on customers, checking in and stocking product, filing, and paying invoices and all the other activities related to keeping the front doors open.  Sure, part of the job is reading comics and game rules, but that is so we can discuss them intelligently with our customers.  The keyword in that last statement is "part."

Which questions have I missed?  I mean, besides "The Customer is always right."  Email with your favorites.

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