Thursday, February 17, 2005

I’m no longer buying anime DVDs at my local Suncoast movie store.

This may seem like a spectacularly boring announcement, but I’ve been buying anime from one specific Suncoast store for the past six years or so. The vast majority of my anime collection—over three hundred discs—was bought at this store.

I discovered it at a local mall. I liked the store itself, but I was particularly attracted to their anime selection. They actually had an anime selection. Remember, this was about 1998, back when nobody other than Sam Goody stocked anime merchandise (and that was one shelf of VHS tapes).

I went back during the day and found that the employees were gleefully playing Dragonball Z marathons all day. They all loved the show—cheesiness and all—and it had gotten them into anime. Morevoer, they were happy to talk about their favorite anime series.

So I kept going back to this store, scanning their growing anime selection and occasionally buying a disc or two. This grew into four or five discs at a time, and pleased recognition by the employees.

Years passed. Some employees left and new ones arrived, but they were all anime fans at some level. We knew each other.

Then, things began to change. Over the past six months, turnover has increased and new employees came in. Very few were anime fans. Today, only one employee at this store knows anything about anime.

Service began to deteriorate. There were days where only one employee was even in the store. The employees were all nice and helpful but clearly overworked.

Then, starting about two months ago, I stopped receiving phone calls when my reservations came in. I’d go in a week after my reservation was due, and the DVD was sitting on their shelves. Worse, when I presented my reservation slip, they couldn’t find the receipt and my reserved DVD.

Fortunately, one of the employees at Suncoast is also working for me at Otherspace Productions, so I’ve learned their side of the story: A new manager took over the store a few months ago. She immediately changed every process and began scheduling people on crazy shifts. In fact, she booked one high-school employee to work during school hours. All the employees are unhappy and confused by new procedures, which results in sub-par service.

Now, I like every employee at this store. I’d like to support them. But at this point I’ll save money and get better service by buying my anime online. At least they’ll ship me my anime when it’s released.

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