There’s a reason that the “Comic Shop Guy” is such a stereotype in the comics industry. There quite frankly isn’t a lot of money in the business, and the overwhelmingly “pack rat-ish” mentality of comic book fans means that owners (who are usually fans) are drowning in overstock.
When you’re dealing with 10 and 15% margins, every item you have in stock requires you to sell 5 to break even.
This week we did something at All New Comics that we’ve resisted for as long as possible. We raised prices.
It wasn’t the cost of gas that did it (we’ve debated raising shipping rates for subscribers forever, but have never done it), it was the price of the Canadian dollar that finally forced our hand.
I really didn’t want to do this, but neither Peter nor I have ever seen a steady stream of cash from All New Comics, we’ve had a couple little middling payments amounting to less than a couple of mortgage payments, but certainly nothing that could make either one of us think we can quit our day jobs.
The amount of work we do for the amount of money we make puts slave labour to shame. I do 20-30 hours a month on All New Comics, Pete does the same, maybe more (especially for show months), and in return we see a few dollars here and there.
Almost monthly I have this question about whether I want to continue the business (usually when I’m inputting crap from the absolutely ridiculous 500 page monthly catalogue…that’s a whole other rant). What am I building here exactly? Is it a way for me to get cheaper comics (a commodity that I don’t even particularly like that much anymore, and which I could get in trade form from Amazon for pretty much the same price as I pay at cost), is it a business that I want to eventually run full time? Is it something that I just like to do on the evenings and weekends? Is it an educational exercise? Is it a potential safety net in case I lose my full time gig for whatever reason?
I don’t know anymore. What I do know is that the emails I get back from our customers usually keep me going. They love us, they really do, and even when we do something mean like raise prices to keep alive, they send us re-assurances and thanks for the job well done so far.
That makes it worthwhile for now, but the day will come when Kaylin and Maks ask mommy why daddy can’t go to Canada’s Wonderland, and when mommy tells the kids that it’s because daddy has to input 43 different versions of the latest Uncanny Possum Man mini-series into the system, I will have to seriously consider my priorities.
Just for fun, here’s the email I sent out today about changing our prices.
An urgent notice from your friends at All New Comics
As we’re sure most of you know, the Canadian dollar has been on a nose-dive lately, plummeting from a 52 week high of .97, to today’s close of 1.21.
What you may not know is that we are invoiced by our US based distributor in US dollars. This is why we lowered prices last year, and why we now have to do something about our incredibly shrinking margin. If this continued much longer we quite frankly wouldn’t be able to stay in business, and would have to shut our virtual doors. This isn’t something that we want, and we definitely don’t want to ever leave you, our loyal subscribers, without your monthly comic fix.
We thought about this quite a bit, and decided on a solution. Going back to Canadian cover price, and it is a massive logistical pain in the neck to do it, and often ends up being quite a bit out of whack with reality. So what we have decided to do is charge you a floating exchange rate based on what we are billed, and apply your discount after it.
A real world example from this week looks like this:
$2.99 US comic x 1.18 exchange rate = $3.53 (this is based on the rate we were billed for this week’s comics)
– 20% discount (.72)
Your cost = $2.82
As the dollar fluctuates, our prices will go up and down, if we get back to last summers .97 dollar, that same comic goes way down to 2.32. We’re sorry that we have to do this, but it’s the only fair thing to do with the fluctuations in the dollar, and the fact that we have to remain profitable in order to stay open.
This new policy will go into effect with the comics shipping November 5th.
If you have questions or comments about this policy, please address them to Peter and I at <email address removed to keep out of the spamobots grubby little fingers>.
– All New Comics resident Web Guru