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Well, we’re finally on ‘the other side’. CNJComics is set to reopen as per the Governor’s orders on Tuesday, May 12th!

We’ve got a lot of measure in place to keep both staff and customers safe, many of which we were already doing before we were shuttered on March 23rd.

We’ve been closed up for seven weeks now, and while we’ve been doing well with Facebook Live Sales and your ongoing orders, there’s nothing like selling stuff to people face to face. (or mask to mask for awhile.)

Here’s everything you need to know about our reopening protocals.

To be clear, we will be compliant with all Mandatory standards for Govenor DeWine’s Responsible RestartOhio program, as well as some recommended Best Practices that his office has suggested. (These protocols have also been cleared with the staff, and they are comfortible with them, which is a really important thing to know.)

In a nutshell, it’s all about distancing, sanitizing and face coverings.

For distancing we have installed a barrier at check out, and we’ve learned the bigger the better. It’s so big you hardly know it’s there.

The staff will also be wearing face coverings, as required. We will not be mandating that customers wear one, but we do STRONGLY recommend it. To that end we will have disposable masks available if you feel you need one. For the at risk members of our community, those 65 and older or immunocompromised, we had a local seamstress make up Marvel masks that we will give you for free. We consider our older clientele to be our national treasures and they will be treated as such. (You know, like Carol.)

Here’s where you can order your own masks from her is you like, though I think the Marvel fabric is a shop exclusive!

We have put up distance markers six feet apart in the shop to help you gauge your space from others. Please be cool and respect other people’s space.

We have established our max CoVid-19 occupancy as 15 plus staff. Please respect this if you’re asked to wait outside. We don’t think it will be a problem but it kind of removes any event plans for the summer.

When you enter the shop you will see a hand sanitizer station that looks just like this:

Please use it! We are restocking it with hand sanitizer made locally at the Western Reserve Distillers in Lakewood. They also sell vodka!

Employees will be sanitizing their hands regularly throughout the day, and we will also be wiping down high traffic areas hourly.

Employees will do an assestment of themselves daily to determine if they are fit for duty. If they’re sick, they stay home, period. (the balance between hung over and sick will have to be determined.) Respectfully, this also applies to you. If you’re sick, stay home and we’ll figure out how to get your books to you.

We will also continue to do curbside, just give us a call and we’ll bring your stuff out to, well, the curb outside our shop. We will also ship once a week, and if you’re still really freaked out about leaving the house we can deliver for free within a five mile radius of the shop.

Once we open up on May 12th we will be back to our normal operating hours with a few exceptions. The Govenor’s office has recommended a deep cleaning once a week and that’s what we’re going to do. We will be closed on Monday’s for the forseable future to do that deep clean. (we will be open for curbside that day.) We will also be adding an hour on Thursdays. 11am to noon on Thursdays will be for our at risk customers only. (e.g. elderly and immunocompromised.) We won’t be checking ID’s but respect this time period for the safety of others.

If for any reason we have an employee with a confirmed case of CoVid-19 I will shut the store down and bring an outside agency in to sanitize the shop, period.

That’s it for the Co-Vid protocals, let’s talk about comic books!

Let’s start out by saying this. There has been alot of talk about different options for shipping and distribution of product from publishers. Our stance is this, we’re #waitingfordiamond

Rest assured that you will get all the new comics that you requested, so trust us, we know what we’re doing. We made decisons that are in the best interest of you, us, and the industry in general. To us, Wednesday is new comic book day and it will continue to be so within our shop.

So, here’s what the forseable future looks like:

May 13th will be our first Wednesday in the shop, and while there will be no new product, we will have some fun stuff on the table, including piles of great discounted graphic novels and employee recommendations. Stuff to read man! Because of this we will give 50% off back issues and 20% off statues, action figures and pop funs from May 12th until May 19th. Take advantage of this, and please use this free week to clear anything out of your file.

On May 20th we will have out first new comic book day! This will be a backlog of DC product as well as some small press publishers. This is the day Diamond is ready to ship.

May 27th will see Marvel returning to the table, albeit with only five new comics. Marvel’s return to publshing will be very slow, with things only going back to normal by mid July. I find Marvel’s plans to be very respectful of the industry though.

It’s going to take awhile to get back to normal, just like every part of America, but we’ll be there with you every step of the way, figuring out how to get your comic books to you. That’s the job.

So what about my home office and the Live Sales that have worked out so well?

Photo art by John Reis.

We’ll have one more big one this Sunday, May 10th at 6pm to 8pm. Late Silver / Early Marvels which I love. 180 books. From there I’m sure the idea will live on in one form or another. I love the idea of a newsroom where we make regular announcements about the shop, as well as some education presentations, which was what a lot of the shows were about anyway.

We will always favor selling comics in person, that’s the part of the job that I love the most, and it’s the part that builds community. We can never thank you enough for joining in on them and helping to keep the shop afloat during this unprecedented time in history. It ain’t over yet, but we’re still here because you saw value in what we do and decided to help out.

We made up stickers we’ll be giving out as a thank you, and we’re also happy to do a ‘sticker swap’ with local artists to help decorate out plexiglass screen. (art by @peabe)

The good news is we got our PPP loan, which will likely be forgivable!

Jim and Ben made the decision to keep working through all this and I can’t thank them enough. We did what America asked us to do, created a safe working environment and kept working. The PPP loan is to reimburse their salaries for the next eight weeks so we can get the shop up and running faster. The first thing I did was was to award them with a hazard pay check for $1,000 each as well as a medal of bravery from Star Wars a New Hope. We held a whole ceremony utilizing CoVid protocols that you can see on out Facebook page, and yes, even Chewbacca got his medal this time.

I’m basically just a circus act, Ben and Jim are the ones who run the day to day activity of the shop, and they were the ones who got your books to you during this crisis. A running gag became, “We didnt we just go on unemployment again boss?” Well that was the answer boys. Good job.

Politically and socially, I believe it is time to reopen America with as many safety procautions in place as possible. It has to start some time, and we will be following the Govenor’s lead and making changes daily as needed, under his direction. I watch his 2pm briefings, and while I may not agree with everything he has decided, I always feel very well informed, and that knowledge is very empowering. I believe in the City of Cleveland, and I now believe in the State of Ohio.

Lastly, Winston has been living at Jim’s house, and he’s now ready to return to the shop so he can stay six feet away from you. 🙂

So we will be reopening (with alot of measures in place) on Tuesday May 12th! This week I will compose an email with all the details on how we will do that while keeping you and us safe! We’ve been working like crazy to meet up with the Governor’s expectations and then some. The first new comic book week will be on Wednesday May 20th and Marvel states they will resume shipping on Wednesday May 27th (Just a little product each week until July.) Again, more to come on that. Oh yeah, we’re also open for non contact curbside now too!

This Monday will be our 6th Facebook Live Sale from 6 pm to 7:30 pm EST.

May the 4th be with You! It’ll be more late Silver / early Bronze Marvels (mostly early Bronze) and yes there will be some Star Wars in it!

We’ve pretty much got the system down. Look for a gallery of the books on our Facebook Page early tomorrow, then when we go live claim the book after it is presented with the price so everyone has the same starting point. Ben will re-watch the video afterwards and check time stamps then publish a list of winners. As always contact us at info@cnjcomics.com or 216-252-0606 for payment.

Expect a Gallery Sale on Thursday, and one more (?) live Sale on Sunday the 10th at 6 pm EST.

As we said before, we think you’d be very comfortable with the lengths we’ve gone through to create a safe shopping experience for you.

Also for the record, I have been tested for CoVid-19, so both the active virus and antibodies, both came up negative. So I do not have it, and I haven’t had it in the past. I attest that to good hand-washing. I will be retested again in three weeks. (I volunteered for a research study at Metro Hospital. That swab goes all the way up and beyond)

Lastly, here’s might thoughts on what should have been Free Comic Book Day this past weekend.

“Free Comic Book Day 2020. We’ve been doing it since the first year in 2002 when there were only four books to choose from. The event grew organically, and in 2009 we started having a midnight event, the main event of which was a race around the plaza by Superman and the Flash. We thought it would just be this dumb thing but hundreds of people showed up. At that point, attendance grew dramatically. This morning when I woke up I immediately felt like I had something to do, and I realized it was Free Comic Book Day. I always felt like FCBD was a wedding I get to throw each year, if you had to make each wedding better than the last one. But we only set the stage, it fills up with the best people possible after that, and that’s you. Literally the best thing that happens to me in the shop are when two customers seem to know each other that I didn’t realize were friends and when I ask how they met they say ‘here.’ That’s the best, man. That’s the stuff. The staff works so hard and so many members of the community donate so much of their time and effort that it’s still fascinates me after all these years. There’s a line in A-Team where someone says ‘They’re the best at what they do and they specialize in the ridiculous.’ That’s my crew, my boys. Four years ago I got to visit Joe Field, the founder of FCBD, in his shop in Concord California. We went out to lunch and talked about comics. That’s a great memory. A big part of FCBD comes from concepts I learned working at Burning Man for ten years, the most important of which is ‘radical inclusion’, which is going out of your way to make sure everyone feels included. Everyone.

So fear not! It ain’t over, not by a long shot. I have a plan in my brain that changes daily when new information presents itself. If I had to guess, I’d say a no frills dispersal of the books near the end of the summer. Just getting the books to people in a safe and controlled manor will be a feat in and of itself. We’re up for the challenge. Six months from now will be our 30th Anniversary, and if the social climate is clear, we will have a party. Oh yes! Full of all kinds of stupid and ridiculous stuff, the kind that we love to put together. And guess what? You’re all invited. Everyone.”

It’s far from over Cleveland. Never give up and stay hopeful! Art by the talented Erin Caruso at www.supergrouphugs.com/ . (Yes, we’ll make it into a free print as soon as I can find a printer that’s open.)

Stay tuned!

Well, the Governor will be laying out his plans for reopening small businesses on Monday, so we’ll wait until his announcement before we make anymore statements on our plans. Suffice it to say that we are working hard to get the shop ready to reopen safely. (There’s a 8 x 4 sheet of Plexiglas waiting to go up on the counter that Winston keeps getting stuck behind.

But for now, here the info on the next Facebook Live Sale:

  • Monday, 4-27-2020 – 6 PM – 8 PM
  • Late Silver/Early Bronze Marvels 50% Off

Thanks to everyone for making these things such a success for us! Last week went off without a hitch and we sold 98% off the books live!

The new system of adding the price to the books seems to be working well but we still had a few people upset about losing claims. All we can say is that everyone is beginning from the same starting point, and everyone’s Wifi connection is different. We had one customer report he was 30 seconds behind the feed on laptop, then he went outside and used his phone and starting winning stuff. The thing to remember is that this is really about trying to keep the shop afloat so we can reopen. We’re doing the best we can. Again, thank you so much for the support. We love just seeing everyone together in the same ‘space’ during the live sales, and double checking the facts for the show has kept me sane. 

This show will be the biggest yet, 200 books, and at the end we’ll even have some surprise items that have been donated to us by customers! 

As always, please contact us at info@cnjcomics.com to connect with us for payment. You can also call 216-252-0606. 

Oh yeah, look for a Gallery only sale sometime this week as well, likely Thursday. 

We did apply for a PPP loan and were one of the businesses who got a bit screwed over, Fox 8 even did a news story about it, here’s a link to that:

However, our paperwork is 100% ready and que’d up for round two starting on Monday to try again. (Monday’s going to be a big day around here.)

The three of us met up again to discuss plans for reopening that would make everyone happy.

“This magnificent feast here represents the last of the petty cash.”

That’s all for now, Look for another email once we find out what the Governor has come up with. 

Till then we’ll be washing our hands, keeping our distance, wearing a mask and keeping an eye on everyone from afar!

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