CORONAVIRUS EFFECTS ON DISTRIBUTION
As everyone knows, the world faces ever-increasing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its effects on the comics & collectibles and tabletop gaming industries have been felt far and wide. We are hearing from thousands of retailers that they can no longer service their customers as they have in the past, many of them forced to close by government action or resort to in-person or curbside delivery. Even those still open are seeing reduced foot traffic in most cases, a situation that seems likely to worsen with time.
Our publishing partners are also faced with numerous issues in their supply chain, working with creators, printers, and increasing uncertainty when it comes to the production and delivery of products for us to distribute. Our freight networks are feeling the strain and are already experiencing delays, while our distribution centers in New York, California, and Pennsylvania were all closed late last week. Our own home office in Maryland instituted a work from home policy, and experts say that we can expect further closures. Therefore, my only logical conclusion is to cease the distribution of new weekly product until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of this disease.
EFFECTS ON DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTORS
Product distributed by Diamond and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice.For the time being, however, we have been able to develop procedures with our teams at the distribution center in Olive Branch, MS to safely continue fulfillment of direct ship reorders for the retailers who are able to receive new product and need it to service their customers. It’s unlikely that orders will be filled on the same day they are placed, and these plans are subject to change if any point we no longer feel that we can safeguard our teams while fulfilling orders.
Product distributed by Diamond UK and slated for an on-sale date of March 25th or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice. Further updates with regard to reorders and other Diamond UK-specific information will be communicated directly to their customers as information becomes available.
EFFECTS ON ALLIANCE GAME DISTRIBUTORS
Product distributed by Alliance has been shipping from our Fort Wayne, IN and Austin, TX warehouses. Both are closing at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 24th, in the interest of employee safety and to comply with direction from local governments. Any orders not shipped by that time will not be processed until further notice. Your dedicated sales team will still be working remotely and help you with any orders you’d like to place today or questions you may have.
OUR SHARED PATH FORWARD
With these changes in our distribution strategy, we will work with our publishing partners to develop programs that will address product already in the pipeline and what will happen when we resume distribution. We know that during this time you will face many challenges, and we will direct our energies toward addressing them, rather than fighting on increasingly numerous fronts to get product out.
For those retailers who remain open in various forms, I encourage you let loose your own creativity. For the time being, you will be able to replenish your perennials from Diamond and/or Alliance, but you should also remember the stock you already have in your stores. If your doors remain open, it’s likely you will have customers who will continue to seek diversion from events of the world. Special sales, promotions, and even eBay can help you bring in cash during this trying time. Product for which you’ve already paid may well hold some of your answers. There have been many solid suggestions offered about how to help our retailers, and we will bring many of them together in future communications.
Besides the industry’s most immediate needs, we have been and will continue looking toward the future, when we see stores reopening, bringing staff back onboard, and getting customers in the door. We are looking at issues like debt accrued due to this crisis, what reduced ordering means for your discount tiers, and the availability of credit to help stores through and after this difficult time. We don’t have all those answers today, but we understand the many issues you are facing and look forward to addressing them as partners who all have an interest in the long-term health of the industry we love so much.
As I mentioned in my last update, this industry has been one of the greatest joys of my life, from my days as a collector to a retailer to today. I and my Leadership Team have made these decisions knowing full-well the effect this will have on all of you, as well as our publishing partners and our own team members around the world. At the end of the day, the safety and security of our teams and yours, along with the many customers we all serve, is paramount. I again thank you for your ongoing patience and support.
Thank You, Steve Geppi
This is the open letter form a number of Comic Shops prior to lockdown – check their website or social media groups to see how you can order online from them
We’d like to take a moment to speak to you all as retailers in this medium that we all so dearly love. We are in unprecedented times, and the struggle ahead of us all has yet to even be fully measured, let alone prepared for. We as retailers are already beginning to feel the pressure of what is happening, and over the course the months and possibly years to come, many of us will be struggling to survive.
We have received many messages of support, and are overwhelmed by the efforts people have made to make purchases with us over the last couple of weeks as things have developed. People have come in to collect when they are able, and have arranged mail orders when they are not. It is all greatly appreciated, and we, as an industry need you. We know that it is difficult for us all right now, with worries around jobs, money and of course most importantly the health of ourselves and our loved ones.
Many have asked us what you can do to help us through this time, and we would like to take the time to suggest the following:
- Start a standing order if you don’t have one, and add to it if you do. If you’re someone who pulls from the shelf each week, or you like to grab a few things to supplement your order, please let the store know what you would like. The greater degree of certainty with which we can place our orders right now, the greater our chances of making it through this. Use sites which give upcoming release information such as https://www.previewsworld.com/, http://www.comiclist.com/index.php or your local store’s own release information to give us as much advance information as possible about what you would like.
- Please clear your order at least once a month. In person if you can, or by mail order if you cannot. Cashflow is absolutely crucial to us at this time as bills fall due, and by making a purchase once a month you helps us to meet our obligations to staff, landlords and suppliers. If we go into complete lockdown and stores are unable to fulfill mail orders, please consider buying vouchers or the like to the value you would estimate your comics to be. Again, this will help us massively, not to mention ensure you don’t have a massive backlog when we reopen.
- Any little extras you can order will help. Stores have an inventory sitting on the shelves that isn’t doing much right now. Any extra orders of a book here or a back issue there in addition to your standing order will help. Do you have a wants list? Send it through!
- Please signal boost us on social media. Most stores are constantly putting out information, offers, pleas and so on. As much attention as you can bring our way is appreciated.
- And above all, please be patient with us. Many of us are now operating with reduced staff, reduced hours and reduced access to our stores. We may encounter shipping issues, stock supply issues and more. A little kindness and forbearance will go a long way towards helping us all get through this with our mental and physical health intact. Please bear with us if there are delays in getting product shipped, or irregular product deliveries. Rest assured, we’re doing our absolute best.
We know we’re asking a lot. But we believe in this medium, and we believe in the role of comic shops as an important community hub. Ours is an underappreciated medium, and having a place where we can all be united in our love for this unique, powerful means of storytelling matters. Having a place where we can be exposed to new stories matters. Having a place where we can learn about the history of comics matters. And having a place where we can meet, make friends, escape from the daily grind and even just talk a bit of frivolous nonsense about superheroes matters. Please help us preserve this industry so we can continue to give you that place when this crisis is over.
And of course, all the best to you all. We’re all in this together. Be kind. Be patient. Be helpful. Be considerate.
Gosh! Comics, London, UK
Big Bang Comics, Dublin, Ireland
Close Encounters, Bedford, Northampton, Peterborough, UK
OK Comics, Leeds, UK
Comix Experience, San Francisco, USA
Impact Comics, Canberra Australia
Tilt Comics, Athens, Greece
Comic City, Canton, W. Bloomfield, Pontiac, (Detroit) Michigan, USA
The Comix Shoppe, Swansea, UK
Generation X Comics & Games, Bedford, Tx, USA
Blue Ox Games, Greenville, NC, USA
Bridge City Comics, Portland, OR, USA
Alternate Reality Comics Las Vegas, NV, USA
Golden Eagle Comics & Games, Reading, PA, USA
Titan Comics, Dallas Texas, USA
Hooked on Comics, Lebanon PA, USA
Comics Conspiracy, Sunnyvale, California, USA
Strange Adventures, Halifax & Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
Strange Adventures, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
Comic Hero University, Fullerton, CA, USA
Impulse Creations Comics & Collectibles, Tulsa, OK, USA
Arkham Comics & Games, Pearland, TX, USA
Bridge City Comics, Portland, OR, USA
Mighty Moose Comics, Bellevue, Washington, USA
Comic Envy Asheville NC, USA
Cosmic Monkey Comics -Portland Oregon, USA
Time Warp Comics, Boulder, Colorado, USA
JHU Comic Books, NYC, USA
Proud Lion Comics, UK
Automattic Comics & Toys, Corsham, UK
Aw Yeah Comics, Muncie, IN, USA
Cape and Cowl Comics, Oakland, CA, USA
Dr. No’s Comics & Games SuperStore, Marietta GA, USA
Galaxy Comics, Saginaw, MI, USA
Big Planet Comics, Bethesda, MD, College Park, MD, Vienna, VA, Washington, DC, USA
Rainbow Comics, Cards and Collectibles and Rainbow Comics, Cards & Collectibles – Lincoln, USA
Zeppelin Comics – Benicia, CA, USA
Big Adventure Comics, Santa Fe, NM, USA
Twilight Comics, Swansea, IL, USA
Casablanca Comics, Portland, Maine, USA
Books with Pictures, Portland Oregon and Books with Pictures Eugene, Eugene OR, USA
Gobsmack Comics, Horsham, UK
Double Midnight Comics Manchester NH, USA
Fat Moose Comics in Whippany, NJ, USA