This Walmart thing is a bit of mystery, in terms of exactly how the roll out is working.
I visited a different Walmart than last time on Saturday night and found the DC comics box displayed with slightly better placement. It was still in that collectibles aisle, opposite some self-service checkout stations, but this time it was near the front of the aisle, so if you were walking past checkout, there’s a chance you might see it.
It was similar placement to the first store I went to, top shelf, just the interior side of the aisle. Still not great foot traffic walking directly in front of it, unless the person is already going there looking for Pokemon or checking out, but it’s better than the only foot traffic being people who’ve already checked out and are leaving the store.
In this case, there were two copies of the Teen Titans issue, four copies of Batman, three copies of Superman and five copies of Justice League.
One of the questions that’s been going around is how many issues are being stocked in that display. I’d initially assumed the first display I came across should have carried five of each title and some had sold. It’s sounding like that’s not the case and I was probably the first to encounter the display.
There was a comment in the original article that a full stocking of that display was two copies of Teen Titans, four copies of Superman and five copies each of Batman and Justice League. That’s what I saw the first time and The Beat’s own Kate Willaert came across the same stocking as it appeared the comics were being put out. (The old display was visible in a trash can.) So I’m giving a 90%+ confirmation on Teen Titans and Superman being initially shelved at lower levels.
That means the store with the display closer to the front had sold a Superman and a Batman, but no complete sets. (i.e., probably wasn’t a speculator or collector coming through, since a complete set was not grabbed.)
I returned to the first store I visited on Sunday and they had the same number of comics I’d left them with. Given the lousy placement, it wouldn’t surprise me if I was the only one who’d noticed them.
There are a lot of questions floating around and I don’t have answers for most of them, but here’s what I can tell you:
If there are roughly 3,000 stores participating in this, as per the initial announcement, then the initial shelvings are going to be roughly 6,000 copies of Teen Titans, 12,000 copies of Superman and 15,000 copies of both Batman and Justice League. Yes, that seems like awfully low print runs to me, too. However…
There is a possibility that there are more copies in a warehouse(s) somewhere and these could be restocked. Restocking is a big question mark because it isn’t clear who would be in charge of restocking. There absolutely could be 3x the amount of comics sitting somewhere waiting to be stocked. We do not know and a lot of speculators seem to be placing their bet on there not being more out there. We just don’t know for sure.
When I was initially calling around looking for information on these comics, I had two different Walmarts tell me that the collectibles aisle was largely supplied by third party vendors. It is not clear whether DC is dealing directly with Walmart on this. And if that’s the aisle the vendor has access to, it would explain why you’re seeing pictures of comics and Pokemon. If this is third party supplied, any restocking might be only once a week. It’s just not clear and it’s hard getting a definitive answer on this. I cannot confirm that this is third part supplied at this time, but if I had to place a wager, that’s how I’d bet based on the available information.
Now, if they were to restock once a week and EVERYTHING sold out, you’re looking at circulations of 24K/48K/60K, which is probably a little more in line with potential demand. Will they/can they? We don’t know.
There are a lot of people complaining that they’ve checked that collectibles aisle and they’re not seeing anything. I’d say check back in a couple days. There is ZERO reason to believe this is going to be the same kind of roll out as Direct Market comic shops. Walmart and any third party vendor are not set up to be oriented to comic book on sale dates. The initial press release even listed a fuzzy on-sale date of “by July 1st,” and I bought mine on June 29th. They’re going to get there when they’re going to get there and they might not be on the top shelf of that aisle, either.
Is all this a little jumbled and confusing? Absolutely! And it’s spawning conspiracy theories.
I’ll leave you with my favorite:
Given the placement of books, the new 12-page stories are an attempt to drive collectors into the Walmart market and prop up the sell-through. Walmart puts an emphasis on how often things turn and that might impress them. Of course, this theory might fall apart completely if it’s a third party vendor that’s doing any restocking and Walmart isn’t pay particular attention to the sixteen comics sitting on their shelf. (Kind of a small revenue center, y’know?)
I’m not endorsing that conspiracy theory, I’ve just been the most entertained by it and who knows? I certainly don’t.