So, I really like Cold Cut. In my duties as The Manager of The Beguiling, I put together between 6 and 8 orders with Cold Cut a year, and they’re very competitive on discount and stock availability for a number of publishers. When it comes time to do line-wide restocks of Slave Labor Graphics, or grab some out-of-print Tokyopop or Viz trades, or even our massive back-orders of smut from Eros and AG, Cold Cut are good folks to deal with who get us our product in a timely and well-preserved fashion.
You can imagine that I’m a little heartbroken seeing them trying to get out of the comics distribution business. One shouldn’t get emotionally attached to business entities; you’re all in this to make money and that’s as long as your goals are the same, friendship doesn’t hurt. But I can’t help it, as a retailer I really LIKE options when it comes to distributors. I like knowing that Cold Cut is there, and I’m sure that publishers like knowing that there’s another group of people out there working to get their books seen. Hell, my customers might not know how much they love Cold Cut, but they certainly love the considerably-lower prices on things like FILLERBUNNY toys and SPOOKY squeakers that are Cold Cut purchases from us. So, yeah, I’m bummed out (and they don’t even owe me any money!) about this, and I hope things come together for the best. I’m not holding my breath though.
Y’see… The writing’s been on the wall regarding…something…happening for a little while now. About a month ago, I stopped receiving Cold Cut’s weekly update of new product. I just figured my e-mail was bouncing or something, but… nope.Â No new product coming in. I also noticed that earlier this year (maybe?) the company was down to one (excellent) employee named Matt. I sincerely hope that whatever happens, Matt ends up okay because his customer service is top-notch, and he worked really hard for our business. And I’ve been wondering for a little while now how the new shipping charges in the U.S. (basically: everything through the U.S. Postal Service just got a whole lot more expensive) were going to affect anyone doing mail-order/distribution… I wonder if that contributed anything? I have a feeling we’ll never know.
But you wanna know what the straw that broke the camel’s back was?
Dan Vado e-mailed me.
Well, he didn’t e-mail JUST me, he e-mailed a lot of folks, retailers like me. Dan Vado is the GodKing of Slave Labor Graphics, long reputed to be Cold Cut’s top distribution client. In an e-mail on June 6th 2007 with the subject SLG Publishing wants to GIVE YOU A T-SHIRT, Dan Vado put out a call to retailers to… essentially see if they were paying attention to SLG’s promotions by offering them a free shirt. But he also encouraged retailers to place direct reorders with SLG by offering good terms and free shipping–something most retailers can’t resist. I thought this was odd… The Beguiling are loyal customers of Cold Cut’s and I’d always thought of the two organisations, CC and SLG, as being pretty tight. For SLG to be stepping up their direct-to-retailer sales like this, particularly because it’s been The Beguiling’s experience in the past that they’ve been reticent to do so (at least for us), I figured something was gonna go down.
And now it has!
I guess the big question everyone is asking right now is “What happens if it Cold Cut gets bought?” I think the more important question is, what if it doesn’t? Folks who are happy and want to keep running businesses? They don’t GENERALLY put those businesses up for sale. Am I a dick for trying to decide whether to place an order now, or wait and see if they have a huge closing sale down the road? Or am I a dick for other reasons?
Anyway, the whole situation is just sucky and stupid and annoying. Tom asked: “What is it about the shape of that comics market where a boom period is felt more through articles claiming “This is a boom period!” than it is in the wallets of creators and retailers?” and I’d really like to know for myself. Are these sorts of things growing pains? Is Cold Cut just a hold out from the dawn of the DM to be replaced by technologically-advanced bookstore distributors like Ingram and Baker & Taylor? Or is there something much more substantial wrong with the industry right now where we’re selling more comics than we have in a long time, and some organisations seemingly can’t (or don’t want to) make a go of it? I wish I knew.