I started this column mid-April at a time when things appeared to have hit the skids. On Monday 15th April I sold two comics for the sum total of £10 and followed that with a day where I didn’t sell anything. Having almost done 4 years selling comics online I realise that there are times like these and I think generally I have improved in handling these quieter times but there are occasions when the imposter syndrome creeps back in.  I start to question myself in relation to why I haven’t sold anything, whether my stock is good enough, the website is professional and easy to use and probably most telling whether I am seen as a credible place to source back issue comic books.

I come from a background of 17 years selling property in London and there are lots of developers and estate agents that all have their place in that market, some bigger or more niche than others or with expertise in a certain geographical location. My aim with The Unreality Store is to provide an easy to use website, good stock and fair prices and to eventually be one of the places people think to visit over and above defaulting to eBay. I appreciate this is a gargantuan task but one I’m up for. I have a base of regular customers who buy weekly and without them I wouldn’t be writing this column any longer. Expanding this regular customer base, reminding previous buyers I’m still here and finding new buyers will keep me moving in the right direction and hopefully banish those days of zero sales and the ever present imposter syndrome. Anecdotally I post the weekly release information into a number of Facebook Groups relating to the buying and selling of comics and never seem to have any interest. Is this because I am a business and those groups are set up for fan to fan sales only? Answers on a postcard please 😂

April had started really well with a sale of a nice bunch of Bronze Age Marvels and a copy of Amazing Spider-man #50 in GD+ for £285.  The weekly releases on Thursday and Saturday continue to generate good levels of sales as long as I am offering mostly mainstream Marvel and DC titles. I have a personal fondness for a lot of independent publishers but the harsh reality of this business is that it takes me just as long to photograph and list an indie or Image title as it does a Marvel and DC one and I know which will sell more quickly.

The momentum achieved in March in part ground to a halt due to the Easter holidays. Not having children generally means that the two weeks either side of the Easter weekend where people take holiday has largely passed me by, but obviously thinking about a spring break or how to keep the kids entertained takes precedence over buying comics etc.  Whilst sales slowed, encouragingly visitors to the website actually showed a marked increase as did people appeared to carry on putting things into their carts, but every time this doesn’t lead to a sale I have a Michael Scott moment

One of the clear benefits that bricks and mortar retail has over online is the ability to ask a visitor or browser what they are looking for or engaging them in a conversation that could lead to a sale. Online you don’t get the chance to do this so it feels like an opportunity lost - maybe AI will transform this area of online retail in the future??

The third Thursday launch of the month always tends to be quieter than the others as it generally falls before pay day. This month was no exception although to put things into context the same time last year I saw fewer visitors and sold one comic for £10. This year I sold a nice run of mid-grade Jungle Action, all the Watchman and Before Watchmen issues, some Amazing Heroes magazines including the Michael Jackson Captain EO cover and more. So WIN WIN right?? 😎

Interestingly I haven’t sold anything related to roleplaying for a couple of months apart from a White Dwarf magazine. I was offered a collection of RPG stuff but had to pass for now as I couldn’t commit the cash to items that seemingly take a long while to sell.

Bedford Comic Con probably fell the wrong side of payday too. I managed to break even , met some nice people but when the highest sale of the day was Alpha Flight #1 in FN+ @ £20 it goes to show it was a quiet affair. There was myself and another comic dealer at the event and I did wonder for a town that has a long standing comic shop there were surprisingly few comic buyers at the Comic Con. As the show dragged on between 1pm-4pm I sold three £1 comics and the aforementioned imposter syndrome began to creep in again

Despite selling a copy of Invincible Iron Man #9 in FN- @ £27.50 shortly after the Bedford Con April continued to be underwhelming and my mood darkened.

There was a little light at the end of the tunnel with the last Thursday release of April when almost as soon as the emailer had gone out showcasing the arrival of some Bronze Age Defenders and Doctor Strange, a large chunk of them were snapped up. A couple of Moonknights followed including the classic Werewolf cover by Bill Sienkiewicz for #29 in FN- @ £10 (due to it’s predominantly black cover it’s a difficult book to find in high grade), but that was about it.

The expected end of the month Friday pay day rush didn’t materialise until Saturday 27th April when I sold a really nice VFN- copy of X-Men #50 for £275 and a stack of Copper Age Defenders (some of those Kevin Nowlan and Frank Cirocco covers are fantastic).

A copy of Tomb of Dracula #13 in VFN- @ £50 closed out the key sales of the month, as the final couple of days of April saw the familiar theme of good website traffic but low sales conversion rate and so many abandoned carts.

Looking back over the month there’s plenty to mull over for the future of The Unreality Store as we approach the end of our fourth year of existence. April was a toughie.

Maybe May may be better…..