Monday, March 23, 2009

Memphis pt. 2

The five photos here are of Diamond's new warehouse in Olive Branch, Mississipi, of which Kate and I took a tour Saturday afternoon (along with other comic store retailer members of ComicsPro, the industry organization of comic store retailers). Diamond's new warehouse is fifteen minutes from their previous site, but at 600,000 square feet is better than double the size of the old site in Memphis. Diamond started moving their new warehouse over a month ago and since then the reorders that all comic stores have placed have been subject to a lot of turbulence such as arriving much later then they previously would, increased shortages and overages, and a whole slew of items that have been confirmed as in stock but which havn't been delivered after weeks of said confirmation (I'm looking at you Scott Pilgrim volume 5!).
I don't think these photos really give one a real sense of how massive Diamond's new warehouse is. We were given the tour after operating hours, of which I can understand because of safety reasons, but I think we would have gotten a better understanding of the whole operation if there was a way to have witnessed this warehouse while a week's shipment was being processed. But just having been on a guided tour of this new huge warehouse, which is fully automated (bar scans, computers, and head sets which employees wear, communicate what needs to be picked and where it is in the warehouse versus the old paper lists method) has given me an understanding of what a huge operation this move has been and why there are delays. So while I understand that there will still be a few more weeks of turbulence involving our reorders until this new warehouse is fully intergrated, I'm confident that once this warehouse is close to 100% functional, that Diamond's operations should be much better equipped to serve the comic stores that rely upon it.
The first day of business at the ComicsPro meeting in Memphis was generously sponsored by DC Comics, who were represented by Bob Wayne and Karen Berger (and other DC staffers such as Fletcher and Vince). Karen Berger started the presentations with an upcoming Vertigo projects presentation and with their new original crime graphic novels, new prose novel for Fables, and really promising new series such as The Unwritten (by Mike Carey), Greek Street (by Peter Milligan), and Jeff Lemire's (he of Top Shelf's Essex County fame) Sweet Tooth, Vertigo looks like they'll have the stronger lifeline that they've been looking for. Bob Wayne is DC's Vice President of Sales and he's been with the company for a billion years. Actually I can't rememeber a time when Bob Wayne hasn't been with DC and I was commenting to Kate that it's going to be a sad day when DC and Bob Wayne aren't one and the same (which almost happened a few years ago, but when some retailers heard of that possiblity they made DC realize how important they felt it was that they not go that way). The fact that Bob Wayne owned a comic store for years, years ago, is also a big part of why DC has a better understanding of retailers than other companies.
I haven't gotten a chance to go over all of my notes I'd taken during the various workshops and meetings I attended during ComicsPro Memphis, but following are some of the things off the top of my head that I'll be doing for my store to better serve my customers. I attended a meeting on comic store design by Eric (from Chicago Comics) and he had some suggestions for simple visual things that could be done that I hadn't thought of previously and which I'll be excited to implement in my store in a couple of weeks that I think will punch up Alternate Reality Comics. The other really valuable meeting I attended was presented by Gary (of Laughing Ogre) and Phil (of Colisieum of Comics) on the subject of cutting costs and streamling your budget. I learned several things in this hour long panel (even though this was the panel I SO wanted to leave early because my drinking binge the previous night was catching up with me) that will not cut services to my customers, but will instead allow me to get rid of dead weight parts of the store and actually fine tune my operation.
On the first day of this year's ComicPro's meetings we broke into sub groups focusing on different aspects of our industry that we'd like to see changes occur within. I chose the committee that is proposing to offer our services to new creators and publishers to review their books for consideration for future publication. We are still really early in our discussions on how this will work, but I'm excited to be a part of this group and even though this group isn't even a week old, we've already got some great ideas that say to me that this isn't just going to be an "all talk, no show" group, rather this is going to show what an important part of the industry ComicsPro is. Last year at the ComicsPro meeting my main objective was learning more about MOBY (the point of sale system I now use at my store) and that has been greatly valuable to me streamling my store, but this year with my being part of this review group within ComicsPro, I finally have a goal to work towards that will allow me to contribute to the future of the comics industry as a whole.


Camila said...

I read about your store in the view.

How did that come along?

Ralph Mathieu said...

Do you mean the one with the Watchmen feature? The reporter called me and stopped by that same afternoon.