A few months ago I made the mistake of revisiting a comic store which shall remain crappy. I was peeping some stuff on ebay and thought I'd check the local scene to see if I could score the items for cheaper or almost as cheap. I went to every store in town and finally to one I already avoid because of knowing that it sucks, but I went in with a fresh mind thinking I might at least find the items, which it happens were three issues I was missing of DC Challenge!, an underrated series from the eighties.
I looked around and I have to say the back issue selection was good, maybe the best in the city, but at least one reason for that became apparent as I looked at the prices. Everything was way above market value. There was not a single comic from the sixties, for instance, priced under $25, no matter what condition it was in, no matter what the title or number it was. They had clearly been priced with the mentality that because a comic is old, it must be worth a ton, no matter how little demand for that particular title there is. As it happens, some if not all of the titles I collect from that era are among the less popular, so that was a bit of a blow, but I know there's always ebay. Then I saw a sign that said, all comics were half off the price they had been marked. That brought them down to something approaching market value, so I took out a few for my collection. I found the DC Challenge! issues I was looking for, which made me quite happy, because those were actually marked very cheap. It was apparent, in fact they had been sitting in the store since roughly the time they came out in the mid eighties.
This whole process was made more uncomfortable by the fact there was a creepy, trollish worker staring at me the entire time I was looking around. Every time I looked up his beady eyes were on me. I'm in my thirties and I don't really fit the profile of a shoplifter. I can understand security concerns in a place like that, but worse was when he noticed I had a checklist, and said something like "let's take a look", as if I wanted his help. I hate being hustled.
Then I looked at action figures. I saw quite a few that I would like, but they were all being sold in sets of four. You could not buy them individually, and in several cases I already had one in the set, or else there was one that did not appeal to me, so there was no way I was going to buy the entire set. So it definitely lost my action figure business.
I got up to the till to buy the comics I'd picked out, and there is the owner, a figure familiar to me since childhood. He looks at my selection, and then he informs me that they have a sign by the till which says that because of shifting market values, they reserve the right to change the price on any comic at the till. Because of course, everybody upon first entering the store will go up to the till and look for tiny handwritten notes taped to the cash register. Sleazy!
Values are indeed shifting, and I don't fault a store that prices at the till. The very excellent store I visited while in New York did not have any marked prices, but instead gave you the price based on Overstreet's. But he let you know when you came in how things were priced. In the case of the other, unnamed, very crappy store in my city, they have a giant sign saying prices are half off what they are marked, located at the back issue bins, and then the other little doomsday note right by the till in tiny penmanship.
As if I had not been treated as enough of an ignoramus by this clown who assumes everyone who walks in the store knows nothing, he then told me the prices on the DC Challenge! were $10 each! I had found the rest of the series for about $1-3 each, and they were listed that cheap in my price guide, and on ebay. So it was nothing doing. I took a few of the other comics where they had not been ridiculously marked up, but most I didn't take. So rather than getting rid of merchandise sitting in the store for 25 years at a few dollars each, he found it more sensible to raise them to a ludicrous price. There obviously must be treasure maps written on the boards that he'd just remembered were there. Years ago he'd replaced the pages with high priced bearer bonds, assuming no one would want to buy an "uncool" series like DC Challenge!. These are the only logical explanations for the policies of this sensible "businessman".