2016-02-17 / Features

Mike Giordano

Michael Giordano has been co-owner of Royal Collectibles for almost 15 years, joining business partner, Chuck Marrone, shortly after college. He went to St. Francis Prep and St. John’s University in Fresh Meadows, earning a degree in marketing. He started working at Royal Collectibles as a teenager (his first gig – dressing up as Barney the dinosaur and waving to neighborhood kids!) back when Chuck owned the shop with his father. Little by little, they gave him more responsibilities as a worker until several years later, when Chuck asked if he wanted to partner with him upon Chuck’s father’s exit from the business. And Mike has been there ever since, living not too far down the block in Forest Hills. Mike even ended up hiring his sisters to work at the shop over the years and now it has become a true family business (technically two families, but they feel like one).

Queens Gazette: Could you describe your business – what do you sell/deal in?

Mike Giordano: It’s a comics and collectibles store. We deal in both classic and current comics, but also collectibles such as action figures (vintage and modern, carded and loose), statues, vintage pop culture items, autographed items and more. And not just comic-related collectibles – we have a lot of sci-fi/action movie collectibles as well. We recently opened a second store down the block from us, Royal Sports and Entertainment, dedicated to sports memorabilia and gaming (Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, etc).

QG: Where do your base customers come from? and tell us their average ages? Do they collect because the classic books increase in value if kept in pristine condition?

MG: I’d say about 50 percent of our customer base is local, Queens-based. But we get people from all five boroughs, Long Island and a few out-of-staters. Our online business had led us to a few steady buyers from all around the US.

It’s hard to pin an average age on our customers, sure the 18 to 35 male demographic still dominates, but we have a wide range of ages and races, of both sexes, and it expands every day.

We have a lot of steady “investors,” who go after high-end, mint-condition books solely for their potential value, but the majority of customers are just big fans of the books they read. They’re here once a week or more to pick up the new books, discuss recent events in the comics, TV shows and movies they love, and generally having a place to geek out and have fun. Even the investors can’t helping getting caught up in the excitement of the medium. Sure the collectibility of comics is always there in terms of a dollar value, but lots of folks just love reading comics.

QG: How much business volume does your store generate on average? Is it more in-person visits, or online?

MG: Business volume fluctuates – a movie, TV premiere or a big comic release will send more people to the shop. Or when a title or character hits mainstream media, like the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0 that sold out by noon on the day of its release.

The weekends are always pretty busy, and of course Wednesday – the day of the week when new comic books are released – is always bustling for us. We have quite a collection of die-hard comic subscribers who are here every Wednesday. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night can keep a fan from their comics!

Our online sales are moderate, but with online sales it’s all a matter of how much work you put into it. We’re often too entrenched in the day-today in-store business to take the time to post items for sale online and ship them out. Online sales are secondary to taking care of business in the shop and making sure our in-store customers’ needs are being met.

QG: Do you buy private comic collections, and if you do, how do you set the value of them?

MG: We get a lot of phone calls from people looking to sell their collections. As well as walkins. Both comics and collectibles. We cannot give price quotes over the phone, simply because the condition of an item, in today’s market, is the most important factor. We have to see it in person. So if we get to talking and it sounds like we might be interested in buying what someone is selling, we advise them to come see us on Mondays or Fridays or by special appointment so we can make a proper appraisal. We also do schedule house calls occasionally, if the collection is too large to bring to the shop. We generally look for comics from before 1975, classic silver-age runs and key issues/character first-appearances. We have a lot of the modern stuff already, so the older the better. Same goes for collectibles, the older the better.

Scarcity/desirability, age and condition are the factors that go into pricing an item. Those and the resale-ability of the item. People have to want it! So once we give an appraisal on the item or items (free of charge) we then either make an offer or direct the customer as to where and how they might have a better chance of selling their item or items in a collection if we’re not interested in pur- chasing it ourselves.

QG: Do you have many women customers interested in comic book collections? Other items you sell?

MG: Our female customer base keeps on growing, with both the Big Two (Marvel and D.C.) and the independent publishers paying more attention to its female customers by putting out strong female leads like Harley Quinn, the now female Thor, Squirrel Girl, and books like Saga, Black Magick and Paper Girls. We have a lot of “couple” customers, where a boyfriend or husband brings the girlfriend or wife to the store and they end up getting involved with the collecting, sometimes surpassing their significant others in terms of not only spending, but passion!

QG: Would you describe your business now, as the most well-known, if not longest-established, business in Queens for collectors/hobbyists?

MG: I hope so! I mean I’m not sure about the well-known part, but we’ve definitely been around for a while. And we strive to be very customer-friendly, going above and beyond when we can to make our customers happy, so word of mouth helps a lot. That really is the best advertising money can’t buy.

QG: Do you have an online business or presence for our readers to become familiar with your stock?

MG: Oh definitely. We have a decent eBay and Amazon presence, plus we use our social media tools to the best of our ability to keep our customers updated with info on events in the store, like signings and parties, or when we have a hot item or a sale on. You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with our latest events. We do also have a website but we find most of our online presence is through social media.

QG: Why do you have a vehicle on the corner of Woodhaven Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue?

MG: HAHAHAHA. We actually do use that van. For picking up collections, and going to and from comic conventions with our stock. Using it as advertising was a fluke, it broke down one day and we kept getting phone calls saying “ we saw your van, where’s your store???” So now we dressed it up a bit and use it as a mobile billboard. We try to vary the parking, but Woodhaven and Metro is a busy intersection and close to the store.

(Royal Collectibles, 96-01 Metropolitan Ave, Forest Hills, NY 11375; 718-793-0542)

This column was originated in July 2013 by Nicollette Barsamian.

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