- Posted by Johanna on February 3, 2007 at 8:12 am
- Category: Comic News
Riot Comics, the well-covered new store in Pennsylvania, is closing February 24.
RIOT is closing by choice and NOT by necessity. See, I’ve been offered one of those government jobs that would be foolish to refuse…with the easy 9-5 schedule, fully paid benefits, amazing retirement plan and unmatched networking opportunities.
This isn’t terribly surprising, given how Jason Richards, the proprietor, was talking about his struggles last June.
And the fact is, it’s not logical or smart to become a comic retailer. It’s a no-win situation, with too much dependence on one supplier, no recourse when publishers change contract terms to your disfavor, having to buy non-returnably too far in advance of sale period, too much product offered to you with too little information, a distributor who doesn’t care when they screw up, a catalog that doesn’t distinguish between retailers and end customers (because too many of the former think like the latter) and ultimately, over-reliance on a declining format (and usually a declining genre, the superhero comic). The retailer gets the short end of the stick from everyone.
The only people willing to do it have to be extremely stubborn to think they can succeed in the face of these factors and also have an excessive love either for the medium or one of the genres. That makes it difficult to take well-meaning advice, especially when stores and locations can be so different that what works for one person might not work for anyone else.
Of course, the private retailer forum erupted in a chorus of “told you so”. This wasn’t surprising, either, given Jason’s earlier departure from the group. The thread now has lots of good advice, but as happened before, the people who need it won’t see it. If you really want to help newcomers, “you’re not REALLY one of us, you’re just a hobbyist because you don’t use our methods of evaluating your success or have an employee” isn’t the way to phrase advice that will be listened to. Which is a shame, because the points were good, but they were presented in argumentative and hostile language that guaranteed they’d be ignored. (Some really seem upset that Jason criticized Civil War, too, as though saying Marvel’s plans weren’t ideal was a sin.)
You can see a little of the kind of thing I mean in this comment in Heidi’s thread on the news, calling Jason a “loudmouth” “hothead” who was “throwing tantrums”. I don’t understand the venom, myself. One of the more visible new comic stores is ending. Shouldn’t that be sad, instead of providing reason to celebrate over the corpse?
At the end, I sympathize. KC and I thought about trying to open a store, but, well, as Jason says:
There’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes that I was so blissfully ignorant about, from scheduling problems to freight charges, marketing gimmicks to creator meltdowns, that I’d much prefer to just be a reader again.
James Sime credits Jason with giving other ideas and vision of what a store could be. I hope he’s right. I admired Jason’s passion.
Update: Jason continues to blog . In his latest post, he clarifies why he’s buying mail order: basically, good service and a method that better suits his needs, not the petty motivations competitors have attributed to him.