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The demise of Haven: The rest of the story

Haven Distributors

It has been about a month since Haven Distributors closed its doors, and Lance Stahlberg, the director of the company, explains why: The owner didn’t invest in the business.

The business did not fail because our discounts were too low, or because there is no room in the market. DC’s new 52 had no impact on us at all. I just couldn’t reach out to enough retailers when I was the guy placing orders, managing inventory, and packing the damn boxes by myself for most of the company’s lifespan. The vast majority of those customers who did make the leap away from the big D became avidly loyal supporters. It was getting more to break their inertia and start thinking differently that took more time than I had when I was juggling so much by myself. Then at points when we were starting to get ahead, that’s when Mr. Magoo would turn off the tap and I had to return to bootstrap financing. And all sense of progress went up in a puff of smoke.

There’s a lot more at the link, but the bottom line is that Stahlberg sees a lot of potential for a second distributor that focuses on independent comics, but without the resources he needed to run the business, he couldn’t reach that potential. “I simply never had the capital that I needed to expand, or to take advantage of any momentum that I managed to pick up,” he says.

That’s not quite the end of the story, though: Stahlberg says that someone else is planning to enter the indy-comics distribution biz—and hopefully this time they will have the financing they need to run the business properly.

Haven director confirms distributor is closing, but says he’ll return

Haven Distributors

Lance Stahlberg, director of Haven Distributors, has confirmed to Robot 6 that the independent-comics distributor will shutdown at the end of the month after more than three years in operation. He also pledged that, “I do intend to come back.”

Haven was launched in March 2008 by Chicago-based publisher Rogue Wolf Entertainment a month after it purchased the assets of longtime reorder distributor Cold Cut. Stahlberg, who was vice president of Rogue Wolf, became first chief operating officer and then director of Haven, which signed agreements with such publishers as BOOM! Studios, SLG Publishing, Top Shelf Productions and Red 5 Comics.

On Tuesday, Stahlberg sent an e-mail to retailers stating that he will continue to take orders through Oct. 23 and will fill all orders for October-shipping releases. He also said that most of the back stock had been marked down for liquidation.

In the e-mail, sent to Robot 6 by a third party but confirmed by Stahlberg, he emphasized that he isn’t the owner of Haven Distribution, and he added:

That’s an important distinction to make because I feel that closing the company is a very foolish move on the owner’s part. I still get regular requests for books that our competition claims is out of stock, or failed to carry at all. I still get new customer account requests.

To that end, it is my intent to return to the distribution business at some point in the (hopefully near) future with a business partner who shares at least some of my commitment to the comics industry and shows the desire to properly finance the operation and provide the resources it needs to succeed.

Stahlberg declined to name Haven’s owner to Robot 6, but he did say, “All I can say is, he is not a comics guy.”

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