A few weeks ago I stopped into a comic shop for an informal interview. Man, was it bizarre. The shop itself was just haphazard bookshelves piled to the ceiling with a variety of stuff. Comics, books, action figures, guides, games, VHS tapes, and all manner of nerdy things were kind of thrust together in a seemingly disorganized manner. I find this both problematic and charming. If I’m looking for something specific I want to know where to look. On the other hand, I love just searching through piles to find “treasure.” Overall, I just wanted to empty out the store onto the sidewalk and put it all back bit by bit so that everything had some obvious organization.
Besides this interesting chaos, the owner was very strange. When I asked about available jobs he asked if I had made the Doctor Who scarf I was wearing. I was left to take in the shop with the Significant Otter as he puttered with something else. I was pretty worried that he had brushed me off after being told to come on the day specified. He did eventually come back and ask about what I did and where I was getting my degree. He also asked three questions about comics that I could only take stabs at due to my lack of comic trivia knowledge. Frankly, even if I were into comics, I could have gotten them wrong. If I didn’t read Marvel I’d be sunk even if I knew everything under the sun about DC. Then he said that the money wasn’t too good in the business and with owning two stores it ate a lot of money. Also, that most of the people that worked for him was for store credit. $35 for 5 hours of work. That’s less than minimum wage and it’s bleedin’ store credit. I’ll get back to this in a minute. The guy seemed pleasant otherwise. We talked a good long while and even debated The Beatles. I think he really didn’t think very much of Paul, or Ringo for that matter, which is sad for a number of reasons. But he seemed okay. He seemed impressed with my literary magazine and said he’d let me know if something came up. Of course I haven’t heard a word and I’m pretty relieved.
The idea of working for store credit isn’t repulsive. I would have pushed a little harder to work in this comic shop if the credit was a little higher even. The idea that this guy “employs” what I’m assuming is a group of dedicated nerds so that they can get store credit at such shit wages is horrible. It seems like he is using their nerdiness against them. In order to work in that shop not only does he have to like your taste in comics, but you aren’t even being paid. And if you are counting credit as payment, it isn’t even minimum wage. Why is this okay? I know profits and that times are tough. If someone is willing to do that to help pay for their latest issues, fine. I have issue with saying I should come in and see someone just to hear that it isn’t a real paying job. I also am worried that he is taking advantage of nerds that want to work in a comic shop and saying that there’s no way to be on a proper payroll but they can do this instead. I know a handful of people who would because of the nature of the job. Plus, if he can do this to enough people, he’d never need to hire anyone ever again. Another general complaint about any gaming store is that if you want a job you have to be blood brothers, more or less. I am filled with more useless trivia and nerd facts than almost anyone I know but I’ll be damned if I don’t go into a shop and ask for a job and they say that they don’t know me so, no. I know that family will come first, especially the ones that buy the most, but at least pretend to care.
All the searching also leads me to believe that we are missing a huge market. We need one stop shops for all geek needs. Comic shops have smatterings of figures and sci-fi stuff, but there needs to be a better option. If I had it my way, there would still be a section for comics, but there would mostly be shirts and figures and replicas from the whole nerd spectrum. I’d promote local craftspeople to make nerdy things for sale that for now seem to only reach the bowels of Etsy. If I knew business at all I would make this shop a reality so fast it would make neutrinos look slow.