Comic Store In Your Future – My Diamond Secret Shopper Report, In Full
Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics, writes regularly for Bleeding Cool. Seriously, we let him say whatever he wants, as today’s column will underline. Find previous columns here.
One of the many benefits of dealing with Diamond and not dealing with another distributor for comics (because why would any self-respecting comic book store owner want to deal with anyone else?) is the stores that get their comics on Tuesdays, get to pay $4 a week to get our shipment a day early, along with being in the top secret shopper program. The $4 a week I totally understand. After all, UPS charges $4 for Tuesday deliveries. It all makes sense.
Diamond hires only the best for the secret shopper program. And it really helps the comic industry. Without the secret shopper program how could we trust ourselves to not sell a day early? We are comic book store owners. Otherwise known as scum of the universe. If comic stores were to sell a day early there would be chaos. Madness. The comic industry would no longer be the healthy thriving industry it is but collapse and end as we know it.
Because when a comic store has actual paying customers in, we need a secret shopper to distract us. A person that knows nothing about comics. Asks the same questions that they have asked for years. Such as “do you have two comics for sale that come out tomorrow?” Because god knows if we could sell just two comics a day early that would put us over the top on sales.
And when some simple questions are asked such as “are you enjoying the current story arc in one of the comics you just asked about” then you get the deer in the headlights reaction. They clearly have never read a comic book or been in a comic store in their life before that day often times. And instead of helping a customer that might actually spend money we get to “help” a secret shopper that isn’t going to spend a dime in the store.
The following is an actual “report” we get. This one was earlier in the year and part of it was used as an article on our main website.
Was the assigned title/issue number available? No
- Type of location: Strip mall/plaza
- Were the store hours posted, or did you have to inquire about them? Posted
- PLEASE SPECIFY THEIR STORE HOURS (DAYS AND TIMES).
“GENERAL INFORMATION” COMMENTS ABOUT THE LOCATION:
Upon pulling up it was hard to see inside the building because the windows were covered with advertisements for different comics. There were a couple for Doctor Strange, one for Champions, Justice League, Carnage, and a few more. The hours were clearly posted on the window via a light up sign. There was also a sign that read “Keep Calm & Follow The Rules” and one that read “No Outside Food or Beverage Allowed”. The exterior of the store was clean.
INQUIRY AND PURCHASE
- Were you greeted when you entered the location? Yes
1a. If YES, please specify what was said.
“Let me know if there’s anything I can help you find ma’am”
1b. Please specify how long it took to be greeted (from the time you entered the location). 11-30 seconds
- Was it easy to figure out where the new releases for the week are located? No
- Please specify the titles of the comic books you were to find.
Batman #14 and Justice League #12
- Please specify the issue numbers of the comic books you were to find.
14 and 12
- Were these specific title(s) and issue(s) available on the shelves? No
5a. If NO, was an employee able to find a copy for you? No
5B. PLEASE SPECIFY WHAT THE EMPLOYEE SAID.
The employee, who I believe was the owner or manager, told me the issues wouldn’t be available until tomorrow. He offered to hold them behind the counter for me, but I told him I would come back and get them after work tomorrow instead.
- If applicable, please specify where it was located. N/A: It was unavailable
- Was the employee who assisted you friendly? Yes
- Was the employee who assisted you helpful and focused on you? Yes
He didn’t have a nametag on.
…OTHER DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS:
Maroon shirt, somewhat shaggy brown hair, but nicely kept, friendly. The maroon shirt he was wearing could have been a uniform, but I wasn’t sure.
- Did the employee wear a uniform or a name tag? Uniform
I looked around the store for a few minutes after he greeted me. After browsing for 6 minutes I proceeded to the register and got in line behind a mom and her two children who were buying action figures. The employee continued checking them out for a minute then paused to ask if he could help me with something. I told him the comics I was looking for and he informed me that they aren’t available until tomorrow, but that he could hold them behind the counter for me if I would like.
- Did this location use a POS system (cash drawer with computer monitor) or a standalone cash register?
POS (cash drawer with computer monitor)
- Were you thanked and/or given a sincere parting comment? Yes
The cash register was a POS system, but it was hard for me to get a much better look than simply being able to tell that due to the family making a purchase at the time of my inquiry.
Name/description of employee who assisted you on the sales floor:
DESCRIPTION OF THE STORE LAYOUT:
There weren’t any TVs or gaming tables in the store. I was also unable to find where the new comics were specifically. There were comics all along the exterior walls along with figurines on shelves and quite a few kids looking at them with their parents. In the middle of the store was a table filled with comics and more laid on top, which I assumed were the newer or more popular ones. By the POS they had a playground like thing that featured a rock and had figures all over it as well as on shelves next to it, but it said “do not touch” so I don’t believe it was a gaming table.
And that is the report I received from Diamond along with pictures of the outside of the store and inside in case I don’t remember what the store looks like.
A previous secret shopper was nice enough to take a picture in the store while I was putting up posters so I wouldn’t notice. The picture was me putting up posters behind the calendar that hangs from the ceiling. You could just see the lower half of me. It looked like the calendar had a pair of legs.
At least this one guessed my age low so bonus points for that. And the part “Maroon shirt, somewhat shaggy brown hair, but nicely kept, friendly. The maroon shirt he was wearing could have been a uniform, but I wasn’t sure.” Nicely kept, friendly. Two thumbs up. The shirt was just a shirt though. Uniforms at Rodman Comics? Hmmmm…
Still don’t know why there are questions about the whole is there TVs and gaming tables. Who gives a darn? The poor secret shopper gets to take a picture inside and outside of the store to show they were here so what does it matter?
And I do not think name tags are going to happen. But I do have a name darn it! Another tip, she didn’t read comics and wasn’t a gamer. She noticed and read the no outside food or drink sign. Most people just come in with food or drink from outside the store and say “but they let me at other stores!” Rodman Comics isn’t “other” stores. And she lied to me. Saying she would come back tomorrow and never did. That hurt.
So there you go, a copy of the “Secret Shopper” report, the same questions for years now. I don’t want to know how much money comic stores have spent on this program. I am glad it doesn’t go towards say improve the actual shipments. This program is far more important than say making sure stores actually get what they are invoiced for. How upset am I ever going to be if somehow some comics do accidentally get sold a day earlier? It could happen. New employee forgets, or what not.
If a store were to “accidentally” sell current comics like the issues before the ones they are requesting what happens? I am curious does the secret shopper really buy them? Would everyone think they were the comics that weren’t supposed to be sold? Would Diamond be all we have him now!? Shut him down like the dog he is! Then could I point out that I sold comics that could be sold?
The secret shopper program is so great. Just think you too could also be a part of the secret shopper program if you open up a comic store. Ranks right up there with our option of buying Hydra T-shirts to promote Secret Empire. I already have a T-shirt. My I am “Jude Terror T-shirt”, thank you very much.
Comic Store In Your Future – My Diamond Secret Shopper Report, In Full