Mark Amoroso of Blackthorn Game Center in Dickson, Tennessee saw our coverage of Marvel Masterworks being published by Barnes & Noble (see 'Barnes & Noble To Publish Materworks TPBs') and retailer Sara Gray's comments on it (see 'Sara Gray of Comic Gallery on Marvel Masterworks Exclusive'), and had this to say:


I just read the letter from Sara Gray.  While I fully agree with her, I have to say that Marvel and all the other manufacturers would all comment 'and your point is?'  When will we specialty retailers learn that the manufacturers really don't care what we think or have to say?  We bust our butts day-in and day-out.  We learn all about their products and talk them up to our customers.  We run promotions, demo's, free comic days.  We support a toll-free number to guide buyers to the cool stores that carry the stuff they want.  And you know what?  All this does is give the sales information (quantities sold, etc.) and financial strength for these companies to go after sales with the big mass-merchants.

Granted, our market is smaller.  However, we offer long term stability and require less manpower to service.  Most of the big chains get some type of returnability, purchase orders are required and additional paper work or inventory systems, special racking must be made, all types of promotional and co-op concessions are made.  Then when the product suddenly isn't 'hot' or turning the numbers the way it should the chains usually dump it and move on.  The sad thing is it leaves all the 'original' retailers hurting financially and the manufacturers could have enjoyed more long term profits and a more enduring product.

Marvel isn't the only one doing this.  Look at Tokyopop and Viz with their graphic novel lines.  Most comic stores have carried anime and manga for years.  Now all of a sudden the stuff is 'hip' and all the big chains want it.  Tokyopop [actually Viz, see 'Suncoast Adds Manga Spinners,' ed.] has made a special rack for the Suncoast stores to help promote the line and Viz gives Borders/Waldens the Di Gi Charat exclusive.

If you look at the gaming industry you don't have to any further than Upper Deck for how they feel towards the specialty market.  They have made sure that Wal-Mart has had Yu-Gi-Oh! product at all times.  Not only has Wal-Mart had product during the holidays (when little was to be found for us) but they've had the special tins and the really cool 36 count booster boxes.  The only time I've seen the booster boxes was when you purchased the from a 'secondary' distributor.  Stores that run the tournaments for Yu-Gi-Oh! have to jump through hoops for the 'honor' to run the events.  Now Toys 'R Us, Borders, and a couple of other big chains are running 'tournament leagues' with no hoop-jumping required. What about the Gundam card game Upper Deck made?  That wasn't even supposed to be sold into the specialty market yet our market carried Gundam stuff way before it was mainstream and a Wal-Mart must have.

WizKids was planning to make a product (game) for non-gamers that was to be sold into the mass market only (I've heard rumors that they've now changed their mind due to lack of interest from the chains).  Nevertheless, here is a company that was built by specialty game stores that decides 'we don't need you... we're going to sell this product to someone else and it's not meant for you.'

So, it still stands, I agree with Sara.  However, the fact is the manufacturers and publishers really don't care what we say or think.  The big retail chains give them one massive chunk of cash all at one time and even if it's not better in the long run it's still a quick 'fix' of money.  And if the companies eventually crash, the CEO's will still probably have bucks in their pockets.