In this Talk Back, Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics in Ankeny, Iowa looks at the differences between what he expected to happen in 2021 and what has actually transpired, and wonders if things will ever return to "normal."

The common belief was that 2021 would be better than 2020 after a vaccine was announced.  That turned out not to be exactly true.

In the beginning of 2021 I was stressing if people would be spending money and if things would return to normal, but 2021 has been throwing everyone curveballs.  We’ve been trying to get back to "normal" here only to learn that is not going to happen this year.

Many businesses are claiming they are unable to find workers.  A local restaurant here in town is going to close to due lack of employees.  Here in Iowa, expanded unemployment ended on June 12th.  There were those who claimed by ending Iowa's participation in the federal pandemic-related unemployment programs it would put an end to the worker shortage.  It didn't.

As a business owner at the start of the year, I was looking at 2021 as a possible fight-to-survive year.  Talking with other small business owners and managers of large businesses, I discovered I was not the only one.  Like I did, many businesses expected a slow year.  I had two employees quit on good terms and did not replace them at the end of last year thinking I had better be safe than sorry.

This year we broke records for sales.  I never would have thought that possible last year.  One employee even came back.  We have been very fortunate.

Free Comic Book Day this year was very weird; after having it so long in May many people for whatever reason did not believe it actually was happening in August.

With all the supply issues it has been a challenge at times simply getting product in.  Items that were never an issue before have been near impossible or quite delayed, such as comic boxes.  The supply chain is still a mess.  Recently Lunar has been sending out notices that even DC Comics is having issues with getting their titles out.

I have been saying I do not know a lot this year, which is never something as a business owner that I want to say.  It sounds like a lack of knowledge and it is never what a customer wants to hear.  Sadly it is often the truth; delays and uncertainty are quite common now.  We do take people's contact info down so we can let them know when what they are interested in does come in.

That 2021 luck seems to have bitten Marvel Comics also.  Predator was supposed to be a big new Marvel release and now it is not coming out this year.  For us, Marvel has not been firing up sales as much as in previous years.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #4 finally came out after long delays.  Would the delays hurt the popularity of this comic?  This limited series still is in high demand by our customers, thankfully.  One more issue to go.  With the latest issue we had people come in and pick up the previous issues.  We had one first print of TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 for $54.99 and it sold the same week issue #4 came out.  Go Kevin Eastman!

I will not lie, I am stressed from all the changes this year.  Human nature is to fear change.  Diamond Comics Distributors went from being the only game in town for comics for years until DC left them last year to this year Penguin having Marvel.  Now 2021 is getting closer to being over and I wonder will 2022 even be the year when things get back to "normal?"

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

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