Anyone who's ever worked in the service industry will tell you that No Matter How Long It's Been Since You've Waited Tables whenever you're really stressed out, you stress dream about waiting tables. Missing orders, people who get up and leave for no reasons, not knowing table numbers, wrong food, coworkers not showing up, etc.
About six months ago, all my stress dreams transitioned into Trying To Order Comics. Usually, they're super brief ten second or so dreams that wake me up. A book won't show up in Diamond. Our POS won't work. I have a pile of special orders and no way to tell who they're for.
Tonight's was ... different.
A distributor was calling, trying to get me to order more copies of their books. And I was trying to explain to him that nobody had ever bought his books from us, so I couldn't justify ordering more, and he kept suggesting ways I could reach out to people to get them to buy his books.
What were his book's names?
"Polite Misogyny", "Unintentional Racism", "Traced Porn Faces And Plotholes", "Homophobic Stereotypes By Someone Who Hasn't Yet Realized They're Gay", and a giant hardcover called "This Hasn't Aged Well".
I kept handing copies to regular customers who sat down, read the books in their entireties, and asked me questions I couldn't answer because I hadn't read the books.
Then they would leave. Without buying anything. Including their massive piles of preordered books. Because they were so put off by the books I had tried to sell them.
Can we please reach the stage of the pandemic where the Restaurants In My Dreams can reopen so I can go back to not knowing table numbers?
Random Loiterer walks into store, over to counter, and with no preamble says "I don't mean to brag" uggggh "but my hand was Batman's first girlfriend."
"Huh." I replied.
Then he walked out the door.
This motherfucker is seriously rolling Every Loose Die In The Store to see which ones give him the highest count? I'm going to chase him out of the store with this Curse Of Strahd coffin set.
Employment is challenging right now. I bet it's damn near impossible to find work if you don't have experience, but calling up businesses at random and saying "Hi. This is totally strange, you know, but if you guys are hiring, I think you found your next employee."
I can guarantee you, we are not, but if we were, we wouldn't have.
My favorite part of Pandemic Mask Wearing is that it enables me to yawn repeatedly while someone who is Never Going To Buy Anything From Me tells me the complete history of every comic they've ever thought about purchasing.
I hate Hagglers.
Frequent Customer puts a bunch of valuable back issues on the counter. "Hey can I get a deal on these?"
I look up the books. They're priced at $10, $10, and $30 in our store. Online they're priced at $35, $35, and $80. "No. Sorry. These are going for three times what we have them stickered for. If you don't end up buying them, I'm going to at least double the price on them. But I will honor their sticker price for you."
"Could I get them for $40?" he asks.
"Nope. They're priced at a total of $50. It's $150 worth of books. You're already getting a great deal."
"$45?" he asks.
"$125?" I offer.
"The guy who used to work here would give me deals."
"I am giving you a deal. You're getting these books for A Third of what they're worth. And since you're getting three copies of the same issue, I'm guessing you're going to resell them. You are getting a tremendous deal at $50. If you don't buy them, they will be a total of at least $100 the next time you come in. Probably $150."
"What's the condidion of the books being sold for those prices. These are pretty dinged up."
They are not.
"8.0. These are all at least 9.0s."
"Is your coworker around?" Fucko The Clown asks.
"Nope. And if he was, he'd probably charge you $100 for these. Do you want them?" I pick up the pricing gun and put it on the counter.
"I guess I'll get them, then. You sure you can't do $45?"
He left, having bought them.
Many of the people who came out to stores on the first day retail was open in MA were exactly the people nobody in retail wanted to see. Aggressive, arguing about mask policies, not respecting social distancing, not actually buying anything, just there to remind employees that people, at their core, are terrible.
This weekend, however, has been an absolute delight so far. Lots of parents with kids who are excited about being able to rejoin society (such as society is), everyone with masks and optimism.
So far, my favorite interaction was a mom and her eightish year old kid. She had told him not to get too excited, and to carefully look at the books unti he knew exactly which one he wanted.
Less than ten seconds later I heard. "OH MY GOD! THEY HAVE AN 'I AM KIRK' BOOK! THIS IS THE GREATEST STORE EVER. WE HAVE TO GET THIS RIGHT NOW!"
It was the mom.
Today was our first day open since the quarantine order in March, and all of our customers were great. We even started the day with a mom who called looking to loiter with her kids and have them read graphic novels, and she specifically stated that they would all be wearing masks, so I had high hopes.
Unfortunately, they didnt show up. But we did have a man who came in looking for Grateful Dead posters announce that he used to live in Beverly fifty years ago "when it was better", and announce that, since we didn't have a public bathroom, "I guess you just want to see a 72 year old man shit in the street."
I didn't. And still don't.
But it did feel like some of the old Harvard Square/Quincy magic had ill breezed through the otherwise wonderful store.
If you were wondering what sort of people were out and about and going into stores today, Yes. Those People.
One Of Those People: "I didn't know you opened a store down here."
Me: "Oh, we're our own store. Did you visit our old location down the street? We moved here a year ago."
OoTP: "I go to your Harrison's store."
Me: "Oh, that's not us. That's another store. Harrison's."
OoTP: "Do you have plastic?"
Me: "Plastic bags? Plastic action figures?"
OoTP: "The medium ones."
Me: "Medium plastic bags?"
OoTP: "I'll know them if I see them."
I lead them over to the different sized bags we have.
Me: "These fit regular comic books. These fit some of the older comics, and these here will fit magazines. Are any of these what you're looking for?"
OoTP: "I need the ones that will fit my nieces and nephews' drawings. I can't tack them to the wall anymore. I'm all out of thumbtacks. And wall."
OoTP: "I just moved into a new place because they wouldn't let me stay in the last one because of the holes in the wall. And now, POOF. POOF! No more walls."
Me: "Oh, of course. About how big are they?"
They move their hands as wide as they go.
Me: "Oh. I don't have any bags THAT big.
OoTP: "That's ok. I just wanted to show them to you. I ordered mine from your other store. You guys have too many" they wave their hands "comics and things. Not enough bags."
Me: "Ah. Ok."
OoTP: "I'm not trying to be mean. I like your store. It looks nice. You should close it down before the looters come."
Me: "Of course. You always want to shut down before the looters show up."
OoTP: "Do you know how long your other store takes to get my bags?"
Me: "Um. How long ago did you order them?"
OoTP: "A week ago."
Me: "I'd give it two more weeks. Unless they call you."
OoTP: "What about the looters?"
Me: "You're right. You should stop in today, just in case they came in."
OoTP: "That's a good idea. Thank you. Have a good day."
Me: "Yeup. You, too."
They left without buying anything.
Regular Magic The Gathering Peruser seems to come in about once a week and try to convince me I need to play MtG. I told him that I learned a bit for the 2011 NPS and it didn't appeal to me, as I already spend enough money on comic book collections (trade paperbacks and hardcovers, not individual issues).
RMtGP: But, like, do you read them, or do you just look at them?
Me: I read them. I have about a small library's worth of books.
RMtGP: But once you read them, then what? You know? Now you've got this thing in your house that you'll never read again.
Me: I do read them again, though.
RMtGP: Why? I mean once you know the story. It's not like the story is going to change, you know?
Me: Well, if a story took ten parts, I probably read each part as they come out, and before the final volume, I go through and read them all again so it's all still fresh in my mind.
RMtGP: People don't have time to READ, though. You know? I play Magic every week. So my cards are my life. You know? I wouldn't have time to read something that's going to be the same as last time I read it. With cards, every experience is different.
RMtGP: Do you collect board games?
I do not explain to him that my dudefriend collects tabletop games, and so there are a variety of tabletop games where I live.
RMtGP: You should, man. I know everybody has their ... you know ... thing or whatever. But card games are just a better investment than reading.
Me: *non-committal noise*
RMtGP: What kind of discount can I get on cards if I play a lot?
Me: Depends on how much you buy, whose cards they are, as we do consignment for some people. There are a variety of factors. Are you looking for any particular card? Did you want to buy a box?
RMtGP: Oh, I don't usually buy them here. I'm just asking.
Me: Ah. Well, if you have like a Holy Grail card you need, or want to fill up a particular themed deck, we have a number of people here on weekends that are more knowledgeable about cards than I am.
RMtGP: If you ever want to get in on a better hobby, let me know. I can tell you where all the best tournies are.
Me: Thanks. I'm sure I'll be in touch.
Then he left ... without buying anything.