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Long-struggling Comic Book Ink to close: ‘I have let you down’

John Munn

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.

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Comics A.M. | Comic Book Ink’s plea; DC’s deadline decree

John Munn, owner of Comic Book Ink

Retailing | Tacoma, Washington, store Comic Book Ink, a seven-time nominee for the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing Award, could close as early as August because of mounting debt. In a plea to customers, owner John Munn attributes the store’s dire financial situation to a combination of the economy, relocation costs, an unresolved dispute with the previous landlord, the move by Diamond Comic Distributors to “call in short-term notes” in the wake of the Borders bankruptcy, and “personal trials.” In the extremely frank letter, he lays out what steps he’s taken (payment plans, using his salary from an outside job to cover payroll), and what he hesitates to do (fire staff, close the nearly nine-year-old store and declare bankruptcy): “I have juggled as far as I can juggle. I have kept a constant vigil on our shop, but currently it is resting on a house of cards and not a strong foundation (yet) that could go at any minute. [...] I need your help. This week is bad … Very bad.”

Munn asks that customers pick up any special orders or pull-list titles, purchase gift certificates, make a short-term loan or buy shares in the store. “I think we can make it,” he writes. “I wouldn’t have sent this message if I didn’t. I did not want to write this letter. I did not want to ask for help. All I ever wanted to do was to create a place where people could come and escape for awhile. A place that would invest in the community, and its organizations, that surrounded it.” [Comic Book Ink]

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