In an emotional letter to customers, the owner of Comic Book Ink announced he’s closing the long-struggling Lakewood, Washington, store, a seven-time nominee for the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing Award.
“I am going to try my best to keep the doors open until July 9th … the opening weekend of The Amazing Spider-Man,” John Munn wrote. “We open the store 10 years ago when the first Spider-Man movie was going to open. It has symmetry that we should leave when the rebirth happens.”
Munn made headlines a year ago when he issued a plea to customers to pick up any special orders or pull-list titles, purchase gift certificates, make a short-term loan or buy shares in the store to keep Comic Book Ink from being shuttered as early as August 2011, a move the he now says drew criticism from within the industry. He contends that a fellow retailer told him, “You don’t deserve to be nominated for an Eisner. You should shut your doors right now.”
However, Munn managed to keep the doors open a while longer, in part because his bank allowed him to occasionally overdraw his account on Tuesdays to pay for shipments from Diamond Comic Distributors. But two weeks ago that suddenly changed.
“This was never an issue, because they knew that the following day was New Comic Book Day and we would always be able to cover any overdraft,” he wrote. “But, on that Tuesday, my banker looked at me as if she had shot me on accident. ‘I can’t do it,’ she said, ‘They won’t let me.’ I told her, ‘That’s it. I’m done. I don’t know what else to do. It’s over.'”
Munn pledged to “operate as if there is no tomorrow,” fulfilling all orders and subscriptions until he’s forced to lock the doors and giving his employees time to find new jobs and his customers time to move their pull lists to other stores.
“I wanted to be there for you … be there for your kids (or someday children) … for your grandchildren. But now I am not,” he wrote to his customers. “Mainly, I don’t know how to say goodbye to you. To tell you enough that I am sorry. I tried my best … and you worked so hard to make sure that I had the opportunity to do so. […] I can only say … I am sorry … but I believe … I have let you down.”