Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New & Cool (and Another Anonymous Question!)

Time once again for the Flying Colors' Retailing Brigade to sound off with this week's staff picks:

JOE: Ultimate Casper Vol. 1--- Beautiful reproductions of Harvey Comics from the '50s. Also featuring Wendy the Good Little Witch, Spooky, and the Ghostly Trio, this is a sweet trip down memory lane. recommendation: this book is a good candidate for parents to read aloud with younger children.

MIKE: Jew Gangster: A Father's Admonition --- A stunning graphic novel by the legendary Joe Kubert!

BRIAN: Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #1. With a creative team of Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke, this is a no-brainer for all-out action and weirdness!

JENNY: Y the Last Man, Volume 6. This Vertigo title is consistently one of the most engaging reads on the market today.

CINDY: Fade from Grace trade paperback. An excellent selection for those wanting to try something cool and a bit out of the ordinary.

ANDY: Perhapanauts #1--- A new adventure series from Dark Horse by the creative team of writer Todd DeZago and artist Craig Rousseau. Give this one a look!

ED: Down #1 --- From Image/Top Cow Productions, this is the new series from writer Warren Ellis and artist Tony Harris.


Well, it seems as though at least one person is regularly reading "A View from Flying Colors"! With the cryptic name of "Anonymous", I have received another question about what makes Flying Colors tick. Here 'tis---

"One of the great things about Flying Colors is the wide selection of material in stock. How do you determine which items (and how many) to stock so that you do not overextend yourself financially?"

I'm a good guesser?

OK, Nonny, there's more to it than that. Every month, we get the Diamond PREVIEWS catalogue featuring more than 4000 items due to arrive in-store anytime from six weeks to several months down the road. The catalogue includes comics, toys, statues, manga, anime, t-shirts--- you name it. If it's remotely associated with the explosion of media, it's probably listed in PREVIEWS.

So every month, we collect orders from a few (but we'll always welcome more!) of the Flying Colors Faithful and that gives us a small idea of what some people are looking forward to. Putting together a monthly order from PREVIEWS takes me close to 20 hours of work just to make sure everything fits within our budget while also fitting within the kinds of things we feel good about actively selling.

(SPECIAL NOTE: We always have a "store copy" of PREVIEWS available for you to look through---and hopefully place orders for items you just don't want to miss. Ask us about it next time you visit Flying Colors.)

OK, back to our show---
We also keep pretty copious track of what we sell. Even though we are not set up with high-tech scanners and other inventory control systems, you might notice when you're in the store that Flying Colors' staff have clipboards in hand to take your special requests, to count what inventory we have on hand and to give me information about what's selling so I can re-order items we've run out of.

There *are* times when it is a financial strain to buy stock hoping it will eventually sell. The diciest part of my job is buying back issues since that's the part of the market going through the most upheaval right now. Sometimes I make the mistake of buying by my heart rather than my head, since I still love the old stuff (and that means "old" to me, rather than "old" to you). Sometimes, I royally goof and drastically over-order new items--- or totally neglect to order something at all. It cuts both ways, actually.

But more often than not, we get it pretty close to right. That's one of the bonuses of lasting in this business for more than 17 years. There's *history* here. Sales history, for one, but also a history of knowing the kinds of things regular and casual buyers respond to.

Here's one of the key secrets of the way that I order merchandise---
There are so many comics-related items licensed to so many different companies these days, but I look for cool l'il chotchkes that have the most timeless appeal.

Anything that looks like it's frozen in current continuity will have a short "shelf-life", so I order accordingly. For instance, there are a lot of licensed items currently available with the long, curly haired Superman of the mid-'90s. Uh, they don't sell well at all. But a classic looking, spit-curl Superman item looks far more timeless and thus has appeal to a wider audience.

I'm also a pretty good guesser.

Happy Thanksgiving, my fine Flying Colors friends!

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