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Agora que se avançam novos confinamentos e recordados ainda das distâncias que separam banda desenhada dos bens de primeira necessidade, seguem-se dizeres à matutação da gerência desesperada de lojas BD. Do topo da nossa inexperiência cabal do retalho mas convictos das nossas preferências de consumidor e o smug de quem tem notas para gastar, notamos o contrário aos coros de calamidades que varreram mercadores desta das mais dispensáveis das mercadorias, cómicos, com caso-em-ponta que em sentido contrário às lamúrias e despertar digital que se seguiu ao primeiro trauma, subiu as vendas graças ao covid, feliz combinação do supérfluo a vícios comprovados.

Seeing that we are a café, we were considered essential during the shutdown.

- How has Pulp 176 been operating during the pandemic?
- Comic shops are niche for sure, but we are something different. Being a bubble tea and coffee shop, we have thousands of guests per week that have never stepped foot in a comic shop before. This is all new to them. Coffee is recession proof, that fact has been established, but we found out it is pandemic proof too. People came in for their drinks and a lot of them were looking for something to read because they were out of work or school for a while. Our sales actually increased during the shutdown. (...) Our subscription customers and weekly comic customer base is quite large, it’s not unusual to see a line wrapped around the corner before we open. That being said, our walk-ins customer base is extravagant; the coffee and bubble tea bar brings thousand of people in per week.
in "Pulp 716 Coffee & Comics" 20 out 2020

O conceito não é inteiramente novo, lojistas — sobretudo livrarias — exploram-no de crises anteriores, e pessoalmente ser-lhe-íamos vítima fácil: quantas vezes, aborrecido com as leituras em mãos, não desejámos levantar cu da esplanada, percorrer estantes à procura duma daquelas BDs em stand-by na nossa lista mental de curiosidades, retornar e repetir rodada com peça nova para magicar insultos? (*) E se não estivermos a sonhar demasiado alto, montem barraca no nosso concelho, os limites deste tornaram-se uma cena agora que os agentes de trânsito opinam sobre os nossos rituais migratórios.

Last, not least, no tópico de conselhos-com-s, nota ainda ao "something different" conseguido pela loja à amostra. Além da intenção do espaço combinado — "we are a destination shop (...) not a click and ship shop" —, concretiza uma outra tendência crescente em BD: um staff e um público predominantemente feminino:

One of the first thing people notice is that almost all the staff are woman. That plays into the fact that almost 70% of our customer base, including subscriptions, are also woman.
in "Pulp 716 Coffee & Comics" 20 out 2020

Kudos. Mas ironias outras, a que nos arregala olho é aquela do papel e digital e do "click and ship shop". Da introdução dizem-nos que estão comprometidos com "the brick & mortar retail sales", imediatamente seguido dum "a strong social media presence is (almost) a must nowadays, sure, but [os donos da coisa] made a deliberate choice not to have an on-line presence otherwise", um compromisso ao tijolo e argamassa reforçado no nome da loja, "Pulp", que atribuem à tradição do local:

The Pulp name comes from the literal meaning, pulp from wood. The area we are located in (...) was once the world’s largest lumber port. The whole region was peppered with pulp factories. Some of the most sought-after early American comics probably can trace their origin story to the exact spot people are shopping for new comics in our shop today.
in "Pulp 716 Coffee & Comics" 20 out 2020

Tecnologia de árvore morta. Infelizmente aos puristas, na entrevista rapidamente reconhecem a importância das redes:

Social media helped us along the way. (...) We learned rather quickly that if we do a post about a book, we better have at least 100 in stock or we could run the risk of selling out immediately.
in "Pulp 716 Coffee & Comics" 20 out 2020

Ie, no "very spot" da sua "location", outrora o centro fabril de onde originou o pulp dos american comics que lançaram bases de todo um meio, adaptaram-se ("this business model works") e acompanharam tendências ("the industry is changing"):

We are not like most shops; we use that to our advantage. Our future looks to be rock solid. (...) If small businesses like bookstores, record shops and comic book stores are going to survive, it will happen because people want to "go to there."
in "Pulp 716 Coffee & Comics" 20 out 2020

Cof-cof, tosse covid vinte-vinte: "want", mas acresce papelinho de entidades empregadoras para o "able"? Voltemos aqui a propósito dos fundamentos da democracia lá para, diguemos, terça para quarta?, horário americano?.