The gloomy economy has claimed another victim as Comic Book Ink, a 10-year-old shop outside Tacoma, has announced it is closing. Only last year, the store was in trouble and stayed afloat with help from a benefit campaign. However, this time, owner John Munn has chosen not to look for help. Here’s part of an emotional letter Munn sent out:
I have no idea how to write this letter.
I’ve been trying to write it in my mind over the last two weeks…and I just don’t know how to start it without saying:
“I’m sorry…But I believe…I have let you down.”
Let me tell you why I had to decide to write this letter.
Two weeks ago, I walked into my bank to see my banker on a Tuesday…
Please know that I have an incredible bank…they have stood by my side through everything that has happened in the last six years…including giving us a $30,000.00 credit line within the first year of banking with them. A line that we maxed out fairly quickly…and kept maxed for six years.
But..two weeks ago…Tuesday…they were not able to do what they wanted to do….which was to help me.
On some Tuesdays, from time to time, they would allow me to overdraw the account so that I could cover the shipment that would be arriving that afternoon. This was never an issue, because they knew that the following day was New Comic Book Day and we would always be able to cover any overdraft.
But, on that Tuesday, my banker looked at me as if she had shot me on accident.
“I can’t do it,” she said, “They won’t let me.”
I told her, ‘That’s it. I’m done. I don’t know what else to do. Its over.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said…she looked like she was going to cry.
“It’s not your fault,” I told her, ‘It’s nobody’s fault but mine.”
As I got into my car…it fully hit me. I was going to let each and every one of you down in such a way that I have fought against with all of my might. I was going to have to close the store.
I can’t begin to tell you how many of your faces rushed by me in my mind. Seeing the hurt in your eyes.
I broke down.
I realize, in the past..when met with adversity..I asked for your help.
I knew that, if I asked for it again, you would help.
But I couldn’t do that to you. Not again. Not anymore.
You’ve been asked too many times.
Last year, when I asked for help…the message found its way around the world.
And I got messages back of hope, care, support…and, you need to know…messages of hate and loathing on a massive scale.
“You don’t belong in the comic book industry.” One wrote.
“With all the trouble in the world…you’re asking for hand out? Grow up and close your store.” Wrote another.
“You’re a blight.”
One retailer called to tell me…not 10 minutes after the message went out: “You don’t deserve to be nominated for an Eisner. You should shut your doors right now. I really should call (the committee chair) and tell them that shops that are in the business state you are in…should be disqualified.”
“You’re an embarrassment,” I was told on more than one occasion when I went to San Diego last summer for our Eisner nomination, “Everyone is asking why you are here. Why are you here?”
There’s more. A lot more. But I don’t want to make you angry.
I know you are going to be disappointed enough in me…and the anger might come later…which I also deserve…but I have to close the shop. In light of my position with the bank, I honestly have no other choice…other to ask you, again.
And you already know now…that I will not be doing that.
But I am not going to lock the doors today and walk away. That’s not the kind of person I am. That’s not the relationship that I have with you. It wouldn’t be right and it wouldn’t be fair to you.
I am going to try my best to keep the doors open until July 9th…the opening weekend of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. We open the store 10 years ago when the first Spider-Man movie was going to open. It has symmetry that we should leave when the rebirth happens.
We are going to operate as if there is no tomorrow.
All shipments will be fulfilled until we close.
All Subscriptions will be filled until we close.
All New Gaming Materials will be coming in fully (Magic, Heroclix, etc) until we close.
All Gaming Nights (Thursday & Friday Night Magic / Saturday Heroclix / Sunday Pokemon & Warcraft) will be going full bore (with Prize support) until we close.
I don’t want to fade away with pieces being sold off…I want Comic Book Ink to be there for you until we have to leave.
This will give you time to transition your files to other comic book stores.
This will give other stores time to increase their orders.
This will give you time to find another gaming store that feels that same way about you that I do…like the soon to be open NERDY STUFFS.
This will give my staff time to find new places to work.. Places of which I can only hope love them as much do…and will care, respect and have pride in them as much as I do. Because I love them as much as my own children…and I know they are your family, too.
This will give me time to try and sell as much as I can to make as much as I can to try and take care of all of the Angels that took a chance with me…and supported the store in more ways than I can possibly begin to tell you.
PLEASE keep purchasing stuff from COMIC BOOK INK on a weekly basis, until we are gone. I’ve had too many people tell me, that I am causing myself further fiscal crisis by staying open and being here through this time of needed transition, ending, loss and separation. I think they are wrong.
Please, prove me right.
I don’t think I will have to have deep discount sales in order to get through this and liquidate my stock. I believe that you will not want to see us go that way.
I will have one sale…for everyone who’s files are empty…But I am saving that for the final weekend.
I am also hoping to have a gathering at the store…on the last day…that you can be a part of. I will get that information out as soon as I am able.
I feel an overwhelming need to say, “Thank You” to all of the Comic Book Professionals (and Retailers) too, who became part of our family: Adam Kubert, Brian Michael Bendis, Clayton Crain, Robert Kirkman, Ed Brubaker, Daniel Way, Brian Reed, Michael Lark, Stephano Guadiano, John Layman and so many more… bless you for helping us be the little shop that so many people heard about.
You all need to know that Roger, Beth, Kris, Dave…all of my family at Diamond Comic Distributors and Alliance Games… fought very hard to convince me to stay after I told them the news from two weeks ago. They were willing to do anything…ANYTHING…they could do to help. I am blessed that they are who they are. Again…you need to know…Diamond and Alliance were ALWAYS there for me. And are going to stand by my side as we move through the weeks to come.
As you know…there are a lot of Angels who took a chance with me…and supported Comic Book Ink. It is by their grace that I got to try and fight as long as I have. Please…prove me right…and keep purchasing with us to try and take of them as much I want to.
This couldn’t happen at a worse time for my own family as they struggle to find employment in this economy. My late father’s businesses..that were created for one purpose…are now all closed and unable to be sold. Fiscally… this is not a decision that I make with confidence in my own family…but it is the right thing to do for the shop.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.