1. Take Photos or Do a Video Walkthrough of Your Store
It’s important to take steps to provide proof of inventory in the event that you need to make an insurance claim. Whether your store experiences a break-in or a weather event, knowing exactly what you’re missing or what’s damaged will help you when you are trying to recoup your damages.
2. Familiarize Yourself with Your Insurance Policy
Be prepared for any event by familiarizing yourself with your insurance policy. Contact your insurance agent with any questions you may have about what is or isn’t covered. Send the photos or video walkthrough you did to your agent for their files.
3. Purchase a Security System
While cashflow might be limited while your store is closed, a security system is an investment that could pay off big in the long run. In the event of a break-in, a good security system can provide you with valuable information about the thieves that could help you recover your goods. A security system can also act as a deterrent.
4. Take Home Your Valuables
It’s best not to leave any valuables unattended in your store for extended periods of time. If you can, bring home expensive items that could offer incentive for burglary. For comic shops, this means high-end items like graded comics, silver/golden age comics, high end statues or action figures, a store television, etc. If you’re unable to bring them home with you, consider moving them away from windows and out of sight lines. If you have shades or curtains, make sure to close them.
5. Deposit Any Cash Currently On-Site
Any cash that is currently in your registers or a store safe should be deposited into your bank account. This will provide you with some cash to help cover current expenses. Once your registers have been emptied, leave the drawers open. This shows would be burglars that you have no cash to be stolen and could prevent your registers from being damaged during an attempted theft.
6. Contact Your Landlord and Utilities Providers
Let your landlord know about your situation. You can ask for rent relief. Here is a CNBC article that has some helpful ideas in asking for rent relief. Contact your utilities providers. Most public utilities, phone, and internet companies, are providing deferred billing and other measures to support communities during the crisis. This USA Today article outlines what major companies are doing. Find out what your providers are doing and factor that into your expense management strategy.
7. Update Your Distributors
Contact all of your distributors and update them on your current status. If you are currently not accepting shipments, make sure they know. If you are still planning to receive shipments, change your shipping address to your house.
8. Update Your Mailing Address
If you are unable to return to your store to pick up mail, you can file a change of address with the post office to divert your store mail to your home. You can also file with UPS and FedEx to divert your mail. If you’d like to set-up a temporary measure, file for vacation holds, where deliveries to your address are suspended and packages are held temporarily at the shipping company’s facilities.
9. Cancel or Pause Any Unnecessary Subscriptions
Save some money on expenses by canceling any unnecessary subscription services you may be using for your store. A Pandora or Spotify account for example can be paused while your store is closed.
10. Take Home Essential Documents
Bring home any essential documents you are currently keeping on-site. Documents with any personal information should be secured to prevent a data breach.
11. Back Up Your Computer
Make sure to back up your computer to an additional device to avoid losing data in case of an emergency. If you will need access to files or software on your work computer, you can consider using a service that would allow you remote access to your device.
12. Save on Energy by Unplugging Unnecessary Devices
Turn off all unnecessary lights and store signs. If you have a refrigerator, make sure to empty it of any perishables and unplug it. You can also turn off or lower your heat/AC, though make sure it wouldn’t lead to an influx of humidity that could harm your comics.
13. Update Your Store’s Voicemail Message
Your customers may try and contact you while you’re away. Update your store’s voicemail to include information about your temporary closure, so that customers stay in the loop. If you’re still offering online services or mail-order shipping make sure to highlight that in the message and include your website and forwarding contact info like your store e-mail address.
14. Leave a Note For Your Customers
Some customers may not check your store’s website or social pages for updates. There’s a possibility some customers stop by your shop while you’re gone. Leave a sign on the door explaining your temporary closure. Include info on how they can stay updated with the shop, whether it be your social pages, website, or a weekly email sign-up.
15. Check Back on Your Shop Regularly
While you may be closed, it’s a good idea to check back in on your shop regularly to ensure that nothing is amiss. If you have a neighbor that is still operating, like a restaurant, pass along your information so they can keep an eye on the shop and notify you if they notice anything that needs your attention.
This is a challenging time, and all of us at CBLDF are here for you. If you see something helpful that we haven’t listed here, please let us know and we’ll update this post. You can also check out our other posts with resources to support stores as we all navigate the crisis:
A comprehensive state-by-state clearinghouse resource for financial aid, training tools, and other information to support industry businesses. http://cbldf.org/2020/03/
resources-for-comics-industry- businesses-impacted-by- coronavirus/
A new directory of CBLDF Member stores with links and details about what they’re doing to engage with their customers during the crisis. http://cbldf.org/2020/03/
Tips on how retailers can best navigate a state shutdown order and jumpstart their recovery during the downtime. http://cbldf.org/2020/03/what-
Remote Retailing: Sales Strategies For Stores Affected by a Shutdown shares sales and marketing solutions stores can put in place to ride out the crisis. http://cbldf.org/2020/03/
Remote Retailing webinar, happening on Friday, March 27 at 2 PM PDT, featuring Atom Freeman, Owner-Operator, Prana: Direct Market Solutions; Jen King, Owner-Operator, Space Cadets Collection Collection; and Morgan Perry, Retail Sales Coordinator, Boom Studios and moderated by CBLDF’s Community Development Manager Siena Fallon. This training webinar provides practical strategies and best practices for helping retailers adapt their businesses. http://cbldf.org/2020/03/
CBLDF will continue to update these tools and will be providing new resources and training webinars to support the comic book community throughout the crisis. We’re going to get through this, together.