From Comics Buyer’s Guide #1684:
“Do you really want to spend two dollars for something that will
take you five minutes to read?”
- Unpleasant garage sale customer to her son, 2011
When I wrote about my plan for a Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage
sale in last issue’s column and also online, I never expected the
vast number of e-mails and other online comments I received before
and after the sale. With editor Brent’s kind indulgence, I’ll try
to summarize what happened with the sale and what I’ve learned from
it. Take notes if you want, but I promise you there won’t be any
quiz at the end of the column.
Although my poor planning torpedoed my hope of having other comics
artists and writers setting up at my sale, the sale itself was an
amazing success. I was looking to make $500 over the two days of
the sale and made nearly three times that...and I did it with around
The key was social media. My son Eddie and I placed a classified
ad in the local Medina newspaper. We put a notice on Craig’s List.
We hung a note on a local supermarket bulletin board. But we also
talked about the sale on our respective Facebook pages and, in my
case, in my blog and on my message board.
One person saw the newspaper ad and one saw the Craig’s List post.
A few customers drove by and saw our signs and the Superman poster
we’d hung on a lamppost. The rest of the customers came because of
our Facebook and other online posts.
The key to the success was our ridiculously low prices. Two comics
fans drove nearly two hours from Columbus to come to the sale and
were so delighted with their purchases that, on hearing we planned
to restock overnight, decided to come back for the second day.
One comics pal bought boxes of 2000 AD and related titles. At far
less discounted prices, I even sold and signed multiple copies of
1000 Comic Books You Must Read (now in a second printing) and Grim
Ghost. About the only things that didn’t sell well were old VHS
tapes and Shonen Jump.
One of the high points of the weekend for me was selling copies of
the suitable-for-all-ages Marvel Adventures to a woman whose kids
love Spider-Man. She was unsure of buying the “regular” Spider-Man
titles for the boys, which is when one of my online pals directed
her to the Marvel Adventures digests. She was enormously pleased
with her purchase.
The only sour note was the woman quoted above. Her son wanted to
buy a trade paperback that was cover-priced at $9.99. Whether she
was disdainful of comics in general or just try to haggle over the
price, she did eventually let the boy - “It’ll take me at least a
half-hour to read this.” - buy the book.
Several comics fans and industry professionals have requested tips
on running their own garage sale based on my extensive experience
of having held one more garage sale than they have. I’m happy to
share my meager wisdom.
Don’t be shy about using your “comics celebrity,” however minor in
your advertising. A few customers came to my garage sale because
they wanted to meet me.
Plan far enough ahead so that you might be able to get some other
comics writers and artists to participate. Then, use that kind of
semi-carnival vibe to attract the attention of your local media and
get some publicity for your sale. I utterly failed to do this, but
my pal Chris Yambar succeeded when he held Lawn Con on the
lawn of his Youngstown Ohio home.
Check with your local government to make sure doing something a bit
more than a garage sale doesn’t violate any local ordinances. It’s
better to be safe than sorry in this regard.
Recognize the sad fact that, for many people, comic books are still
just kids stuff. I got some nice comments from customers who were
not themselves comics readers from a disclaimer I had posted at the
entrance to my garage. It read:
Not all comic books and other items are suitable for all ages. We
will be happy to answer any questions as to the appropriateness of
the items being sold here. We reserve the right to REFUSE to sell
items to minor age customers if we deem them inappropriate to the
age of the customer.
Here’s the most important advice:
Price whatever you’re displaying to sell.
It’s a garage sale. You’re not going to be paying off your house
mortgage or putting your kids through college. Even so, if you’ve
got quantity, variety and insanely low prices, you can do well for
yourself. While your own Vast Accumulation of Stuff might not be
as vast as my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, you probably have a lot
of stuff you can live without. Embrace that concept.
It’s never too early to start your holiday shopping, so, for the
duration of this issue’s column and all of next month’s, I’m making
with the recommendations. These items would make terrific presents
for avid and casual comics readers alike.
Anyone who has ever read Archie Comics will love The Best of Archie
Comics [$9.99], which reprints over 400 pages of great stories from
the past 70 years of Riverdale wonderment. Adding to the sheer fun
of this collection, the publishers include historical mini-essays
and comments from Archie creators and fans.
The scope of this book is breathtaking. Nearly every major Archie
writer and artist is represented, often with stories that haven’t
been reprinted in decades. Secondary characters like Super Duck,
Ginger, Wilbur, and L’il Jinx get their chance to shine alongside
more major players like Katy Keene, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and
Josie and the Pussycats. Some of the odder Archie Comics concepts
from the past, like Jughead’s Diner and Faculty Funnies get a nod
in the form of cover reproductions.
The first Sabrina story by George Gladir and Dan DeCarlo is here,
reprinted from Archie’s Mad House #22 . There are a pair of
heartwarming Little Archie tales by Bob Bolling. There is clever
wordplay, laugh-out-loud slapstick, keen characterization, and the
kind of body language and staging that only the very best artists
in comics have ever been able to master.
Knowing something of big projects than span the history of comics
in America, I was impressed by how well the editors of this volume
included so many high points from Archie history. They might have
left out some of my personal favorites - Cosmo the Merry Martian,
for one - but to get so many incredible material in one book is a
major accomplishment. I just hope they don’t make me wait too long
for The Best of Archie Comics Volume Two.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2011 Tony Isabella