Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Things Keep on Chugging

Well, the meeting with the store's seller went very well. I can't say a whole lot at this time for a variety of reasons -- including the fact that I got to sign my first non-disclosure agreement.

I feel so grown up!

But seriously, nothing happened during Sunday's meeting that would lead one to believe that we can't buy the store. There are still a few bridges to cross, but I'm feeling really good about it.

Hopefully we will all be able to reconvene some time in the next week or so (darn holiday is likely going to slow things down a bit, I guess) and discuss more specifics.

Wish I could say more, but at this point, I just can't. I hope you understand. Once things work out one way or the other, though, I promise to relay the whole story.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Thou Shalt Not Rest on Sunday

Our group of three is meeting with the owner of the DC store on Sunday afternoon to determine whether or not we can agree on a price that we are all comfortable with.

Wish us luck.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

That Was Yesterday…

Well, let me tell you all about yesterday.

8:30am – I roll out of bed at my friend’s house in Annandale, VA. I am supposed to visit some friends at my old place of employment, the law firm of Van Ness Feldman, before my lunch meeting with the other investors involved in potentially buying out the DC store.

9:30am – I get on the road. It should take me about 25 minutes to get to the office and I had promised folks that I would be there by 10:00am. I know that I am cutting it a little close, but my friend was playing Halo 2, so I HAD to sit down for a few minutes to play.

9:45am – I am reminded of one of the key reasons why I left Northern Virginia. The traffic. YEARRGH!! Shouldn’t all you people be at work already? I’m unemployed, what’s your excuse!!

10:15am – I pull into the parking garage, take the elevator up to the 5th floor and begin visiting with some of my old buds. The place looks good – it hasn’t changed much in a month. But I have. How so? Well, I referred to one of the partners I saw in the hallway as “Dude,” and didn’t for a second worry about how that might reflect upon me during my next review.

11:35am – I finish my visiting and decide since it is a lovely and relatively cool day, I’ll walk the 2 miles to Dogs by Day rather than take a cab. I realize I might be 5 minutes or so late, so I call Scip and let him know. Being the easygoing guy he is, he says no sweat.

11:45am – I start to realize that I may have made a big mistake. It may not be all that hot, but it is MUCH more humid than I had planned on. Unfortunately, my walk has taken me a bit off the beaten path, so catching a cab isn’t really an option at this point.

12:10pm – I arrive at Dogs By Day (one of the two businesses potential investor #2, Linda, currently owns) a little winded and much damper than when I started. No sweat, indeed.

12:30pm – Linda, Scip, and I sit down for a two and a half hour discussion that runs the gamut of relevant issues. While Scip and Linda have known each other for many years, I take the opportunity to learn about her and introduced myself in kind. She comes across as a very impressive woman – the kind of woman I would like to work for if I was looking for a job and certainly the kind of woman that I feel comfortable going into business with. Her philosophy of what makes a store special is directly in line with mine, and her focus on treating her employees as people is refreshing.

In the end, we agreed that the three of us are definitely going to be making a run at buying the DC store. The major issue confronting us is finding a cost that all of us can agree on. Scip will be contacting the store’s current owner within the day to see when we can sit down with him and begin those discussions. If he wants too much for the store, we are more than willing to walk away from the whole thing. But if we can find a price that we all feel is fair, watch out.

Should everything go well, I’ll be free to discuss in more detail the plans for the store. For now, though I can leave you with one encouraging piece of news. Everyone at the table liked the name Big Monkey Comics, so fear not true believers, in one form or another, the Big Monkey WILL see the light of day.

6:15pm -- Batman Begins begins to unspool before my hungry eyes.

8:30pm – Oh. My. God. Mine eyes have seen the glory of Nolan and Bale. Without a doubt, the best of the Batman movies. The script is solid and the acting is very good. Bale is a really good Batman, and Cilian Murphy’s Scarecrown is just GREAT. The fanboy in me LOVED seeing the aerial tracking shot that swept over Gotham – it WAS Gotham…from the comics…I could see the map in my head and pick out individual landmarks in the shot. Shiver.

And Mr. Zsazz is there!

And really, isn’t a real gift to the fanboys just to make Ra’s al Ghul the main villain? I mean outside of the regular Batman readers, who’s ever heard of him? And they made him cool. And his motivation in the movie was certainly a bit tighter than in the comics. Nice scripting there.

So yeah, Tuesday, June 21 was a good day for me.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Crazy Couple of Days

I don't want to go into too much detail about what's been going on over the past few days for fear of jinxing everything, but I just wanted to let you know that things have have continued to move forward on the "buying my old comic book store" front. No deals -- or anything of the sort -- have been consumated, but the simple fact that the possiblity is even still alive at this point is really exciting.

Had dinner with Brett Carreras (Brett, hope I spelled your name right) of Brett's Comic Pile the other night. Great guy with a very distinct business model that seems to be working very well for him. He deals exclusively in the back issue market, a market that can be very lucrative if you are agressive and smart. He also turned me on to the Comics & Games Retailer magazine which contains a WEALTH of monthly information on the comic and hobby gaming market. I'll be getting my subscription VERY soon.

Short and sweet today, folks. Talk to you soon!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Richmond Comix, Buying Existing Stores, and Other Musings...

How are you doing?

I spent much of the past week further getting my house fixed up (more painting, minor home repair stuff, buying curtains and furniture). Exciting, no? I'm just hoping to get all of this completed before A) I start having to actually work for a living again, and B) the money I made from the sale of my house is gone (which will happen rather quickly once the store is up and running).

I had a 30 minute or so conversation with Frank Miller, the owner and operator of Richmond Comix. Good, decent fellow. He was EXTREMELY reluctant to talk to me when I entered the store and introduced myself, but I guess I can understand that. After all, he didn't know me from Adam, and I'm walking in saying, "Hey there, I'm looking to open up a business that may compete with yours, wanna be friends?"

However, once I demonstrated that I wasn't going away no matter how long he ignored me, and after I actually bought some comics, he was willing to open up a bit. In short, he was certainly the most curmudgeonly on the store owners I have spoken with. And I am not trying to be disparaging when I say that. He described himself as such, and I got the feeling he was being that way because A) he really did not have a warm and fuzzy feeling for the comics industry, and B) he wanted to be sure that SOMEBODY took the time to tell this 30-something just how hard this business can be.

I explained to him that I wanted to either open up my own store or purchase an existing store that the owner was ready to part with. He then mentioned that he is likely to only stay in the busines for another few years. Surprisingly, he didn't seem at all inclined to discuss whether he might want to sell his store to this guy he just met. Can you imagine? Well, if you are reading this Frank, and you really are interested in selling you store at some point, I'd love to discuss it with you.

I don't think Frank is going to read my blog, however, so I'll just have to keep my ear to the ground on that one....

I also had an interesting conversation with Scipio of The Absorbacon fame. He told me that his current boss might be interested in making a play to (get this) buy the comic store I used to get my stash from back in DC, and wanted to know if I'd be intersted in going in on this as well. How could I not be intrigued? How could I not apprecaite the irony -- I had to move to Richmond to have a chance to buy the store at which I used to shop back in DC. In truth, I don't know if this is REALLY going to go anywhere, but it is certainly intriguing. I don't think that they store's owner even is considering selling, but if the price is right, you never know. God, that would be funny.

On a real fan boy note, I just wanted to state that all of you should most definitely be picking up the DC books that are related to the upcoming Infinite Crisis. All of them are good reads. Except for the Return of Donna Troy, that is. I've tried REALLY hard to be a Phil Jimenez fan, but there is something about his writing that just never works for me. I think it's too dry and calculated for my tastes. Even though he writes stories that are often broad and fantastical in scope, in delivery, he manages to wring all of the wonder and excitement out of the stories. Technically sound, but emotionally cold, I guess you could say.

On the other end of the emotional spectrum, I saw the latest Star Wars film and REALLY enjoyed it. Definitely the best of the Star Wars movies since Empire. That being said, you know what I was MOST excited about coming out of the theatre? The trailer for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Oh. My. God. I knew they were making the film, but I had assumed that it would just look like a high budget BBC production or something (kind of like Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). This will be NOTHING like that -- I had goosebumps during that trailer. It looks like the movie is going to be big and epic on a scale of Lord of the Rings. If you haven't seen it, check it out at Narnia.com. And be prepared to remember WHY you loved these books as a kid.

I guess that's it for now. I'm having dinner with Brett of Brett's Comic Pile later this week. He has graciously agreed to talk to me about the business and the back issue business in particular. I'm really looking forward to it. He seems like a very nice fellow.

Talk to you later.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Quiet Week on the Store Front

Not much happened on the store front this week. this was mostly a week where I did a lot of work around the house. The kitchen is now lime green and the dining room tangelo -- what can I say, we like color.

Had another interesting conversation with Patrick at Velocity Comics on Thursday while I was picking up my stash. Based upon many of your recommendations, I am going to get back to Richmond Comix this week to talk with Frank, that store's owner. From all reports he sounds like a good guy and I'm sorry I missed a chance to talk with him when I swung by the store a week ago. I'm also going to contact Brett over at Brett's Comic Pile because A) he invited me to make contact, and B) based upon his post on the old blog, he sounds INCREDIBLY knowledgeable about not just the back issue side of teh industry, but the industry as a whole. That is insight I could definitely use.

I've also had a couple of really good suggestions about store location that I am going to be checking out this week.

So in short, it was a bit of a holding pattern this week with regard to getting the store up and running. You can't go 100 miles an hour every week, I guess. In addition, things have a tendency to come up (especially with 2 kids) that can derail even the best laid plans.

When I know more, you'll know more!