Saturday, August 17, 2013

Buying Comics

The only productive stop I made during last week's less than fruitful yard sale run was the comic store that I used to shop at.  I still consider it "my shop."  I started shopping there when I was a senior in high school, so old habits are hard to break.  The manager still knows me by name and talks to me every time I come by.  Mostly, my trips these days are to buy booth stock on sale days, get comic bags, or do some research.

Last weekend was their sidewalk sale, which is always a good source of stuff for me.  I try not to miss them.  They didn't have as much non-comic stuff out as they usually do (or maybe they did and I just missed it), so I mostly bought just comics.

Buying comics for the booth is kind of tricky, but I think it's one thing I've got down.  There are other dealers with comics in the Peddlers Mall, but I think I outsell them.  It's not unusual to find their comics left at my comic boxes.  People will leave them there after carrying them all over the mall, because my selection and prices are better.

There are three things (I think) that help me as a comic seller:

1.  I know comics and I have a pretty realistic view of them.
2.  I know what's selling in the bargain bins and boxes in the comic shops, comic shows, and places like Half-Price Books.
3. I have been the dude searching through the comic boxes at flea markets looking for treasures.

What this does for me is give me a selection of comics that's more varied with price points that are better than other sellers around me.  I don't have long boxes full of stuff from the 90's glut that no one wants.  I don't uniformly price my comics, either.  Everything is priced issue by issue.  I do have some standard price points, but my comics are priced according to a variety of factors.  My stock changes regularly too.  I add new comics every week.

It's a little more work for me, but I want to do it right (or at least what I consider to be "right').  I think it works for me, based on conversations that I have with people shopping for comics and conversations I overhear from shoppers looking through them.   I pretty much sell some comics every day, even when I don't sell anything else.  (It's the "anything else" part I gotta work on.)

Anyway, here's some of the stuff I got.  Just some.  I got tired of taking pics, so I quit.  I'm such a bad junking blogger.  The lighting in some of these is really off too.  Sorry about that.

I always have to get Silver Age Lois Lane comics when I can get them cheap.  The boxes that held my Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen comics came up missing when Keith and I moved in together, and I have been trying to rebuild that part of my collection ever since.  The one on the right is in rough shape, but for 50 cents, what do you expect?  These are keepers, but I think I might have that one on the right.  If that turns out to be the case, I'll toss it in the booth.

Stuff from the era of my heyday buying comics as a reader/fan.  I think the late seventies to mid eighties gets undervalued in terms of comics.  Stuff was well-written, well-drawn and a lot of fun.  I like to carry that stuff when I can find it.  I think there's some nostalgia out there for it.  The last Supergirl comic was a promo/giveaway thing done with Honda.  I love those kind of product-placement comics, so I'm keeping this one.

Series I always wanted to read when I was a kid.  Keepers, for the moment.

Nineties crap.  So much stuff was pumped into the market in the mid to late 1990's, that you have to be careful with this stuff.  There's a lot of it out there in the secondhand non-comic market.  Dealers will buy a long box of crap for 60 bucks at an auction and think they're going to clean up because the comics are 20 years old and everyone knows old comics are worth a lot of money.  What they don't know is that what they're buying is stuff the original owner thought was going to be worth a mint when it was published.  After that never panned out, they took it to the auction with a bunch of other old junk they didn't need any more.

There's so much of the so-called "hot" comics of that era out there, that you can get burned if you're not careful.  If it's selling in quarter and fifty cent bins at comic shops, then it's really not going to bring more than that in your flea market booth.  What I try to do is limit myself either to getting whole series cheaply then bagging them to sell as a set or else just stick to special issues--basically anything with more pages than a normal issue.  I always liked to feel like I was getting more for my comic money, so I like to pass that feeling on to my shoppers as well.

Stuff from this century.  Again, I try to stick to larger than usual special issues and such.

Major "event" comics from this era.  I hate the whole concept of "event" comics and crossovers and such, but the idea is here to stay and it ain't going nowhere.  When I can get them cheap (that's my mantra), I'll sell a whole series as a set.  Otherwise, I'll stick with the odd issue or special.  Believe it or not, there are buyers like me who would bypass the thing at full price in a heartbeat, but check it out when it's super-cheap. 

Another thing I always look for is what they used to call the "prestige format" (comics with cardstock covers and square spines).  It's another way of offering more bang for my customers dollar.  All I have to do is find them cheaply enough.  (There's that mantra again.)  I wish I had been able to buy all four issues of this one, then I could have sold it as a set.  Oh well.

I know it seems kind of hodge-podgey, but that's what I'm going for, a variety of things from a variety of eras.  There are comic readers who have been priced out of the market who still wouldn't mind catching up on things, if they don't have to pay an arm and a leg.  They don't care if it's the hot event from three years ago.  It's new to them.  They're one of the groups I try to cater too.

Like I said, it seems to be working.  I have a good sell through and turnover.  I also have an audience of regulars who seek my stuff out.  I love selling comics because I still love comics.  I have fond memories of being that kid at the flea market, digging through the boxes in search of back issues.  I remember the thrill of finding a treasure for 25 or 50 cents.  I want to provide that same feeling to someone else.  All I have to do is buy carefully and find things cheaply enough.

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