COVID-19: Business Update with Tall Man Toys and Comics

Tall Man Toys and Comics, 609 North Gay Street, Knoxville, June 2018

Here’s another of our business updates as owners continue to navigate the closure with one eye toward opening and easing in the direction of normalcy. Today we hear from Mike Hermann of Tall Man Toys and Comics. Mike opened his store on North Gay Street in June of 2018 and has enjoyed great success. Here’s his current story (lightly edited for flow and clarity):

We designed our store to be an online toy and comic store first and a brick and mortar second. We made the decision to close the store before the mandate because we have so many people who travel 3-5 hours every weekend to shop with us. Upon the close of business on March 20th we went into ‘DARK mode’ in which the front door was closed and we relied solely on the online ecommerce site in which 80% of our 10,000 items in the store are listed for sale. Since we opened we have maintained www.tallmantoys.com on a daily and weekly basis. I could not imagine the task of converting everything in the store and starting from scratch in a crisis.

Tall Man Toys and Comics, 609 North Gay Street, Knoxville, June 2018

The beginning of this year put us in a great financial position in addition to saving money for a new larger location, we decided to dedicate some of our time to entertaining our captive audience of over 6000 Facebook followers. We started doing a Facebook live show where we checked on’ celebrities we know in the comic con world, as all of their conventions have also been canceled.

In the last 4 weeks we have talked to Guy Gilchrist, Ming Chen, Jason Marsden, Robin Shelby, Butch Patrick and many more. I felt it was important to our customers and our community to let them know that we are all in this together. As a side effect we promoted the celebrities websites and helped them sell a good amount of merchandise.

Tall Man Toys and Comics, 609 North Gay Street, Knoxville, June 2018

We have also done our own ‘Stimulus package’ where we have been doing online selfie contests, Guess how many of _____ genre toys we have in the store and more giving out more than $1200 in store gift cards. I think this has helped with morale and customer loyalty as our store is operating at 60% of regular average on bad days.

All of our employees have remained on the job, with their duties changing from face to face customer service to shipping clerk and curbside clerk. We actually brought in 2 hairdressers part time to help package items to ship. I feel that we are weathering the storm well. Other stores that sell similar products have not been so fortunate. Our website allows customers to shop from home and get the items shipped or pickup the items curbside, so we have been gaining business on certain commodities as we are the only ones in Knoxville that offer online Comic shopping.

Mike Hermann, Tall Man Toys and Comics, 609 North Gay Street, Knoxville, June 2018

We have not requested any assistance from any relief programs. I did not want to ask as there are companies with more need than us, so they should get first dibs. We are in touch with the Mayors and are confident they will make the right decisions for the county and city. While we discussed several possibilities, such as only allowing 5 in at a time, we are doing appointments only for at least the next two weeks. Our 50% occupancy is 6 people but I have had close to 100 people asking when we are opening so I think this will be the easiest

We are still trying to make the best decision for our customers, community and employees.  Once we reopen fully, then the customers from 3-5 hours away who live in places with higher COVID-19 case counts will start making the trip. The only way to really curb that is to have hourly appointments and wipe down surfaces between customers.


Giveaways!

#1

As part of telling his story, Mike wanted to chip in to the effort of helping people out by giving away a $50 gift card to Tall Man Toys and Comics. Send an email to Knoxvilleurbanguy@gmail.com with the subject header “Tall Man Toys and Gifts Gift Card Giveaway.” Mike asks that you support a nearby (downtown/Broadway/Happy Holler and out Central) business with take out, purchasing a gift card or making a donation. Let me know what you did in the body of your email. The contest will remain open through Saturday night.

#2 and #3

Also, there is still time to enter for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Bliss/Tori Mason and a pristine, clear vinyl LP copy of R.B. Morris’ latest album “Going Back to the Sky. It’s the first time R.B. has had a record pressed on vinyl and there are only 200 copies. It also comes with a digital download card. To enter send an email to KnoxvilleUrbanGuy@gmail.com with the subject header “Bliss/Tori Mason Gift Card Giveaway” or “R.B. Morris Album Giveaway,” depending on which you want to enter.

Same rules as before: “like” Knoxville Page on Facebook to help us help local businesses and donate at least $10 to something supporting COVID efforts or to someone impacted by the pandemic. Confirm in the email that you’ve done both and tell me how much and to whom you donated. Each entry requires its own donation. If you cannot donate at this time, enter anyway and just say so. It’s all good. The contest runs until midnight Friday night.


Remember you can purchase gift cards (after a small glitch this weekend) from Knoxville Page, with fourteen businesses to choose from, including the most recently added Bliss/Tori Mason gift card. During this crisis, all money from gift card sales goes directly to the businesses.

Comments

  1. So great to hear Tall Man is doing so well! I’ll definitely be dropping by one day when things go back to “normal.” Well done Mike and congratulations on your continued success!

  2. Jill Green says

    Mike has been committed to supporting his community as well as the larger comic community as long as I’ve known him. I’m not much of a comic fan myself, but I’ve been able to find great gifts for several people during my visits to his store, and he’s been great about special requests. That Raven Records/Guy Gilchrist print is going to make someone all kinds of giddy this Christmas.

  3. CHRIS CAMPBELL says

    Good article and happy to see this business adapting.

  4. David Ehrenshaft says

    This is great. I’ve gotten to know the Tall Man group within the last 8 months and they truly care about the customers and community. Keep up the great work

  5. Well done. It helps us to learn more closely what is going on and better know these businesses.

  6. And if you visit Tall Man between the hours of roughly (hours vary) 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, be sure to visit Mer-Mer’s Bakery just a few doors north at 617 N. Gay St. Perhaps best known for their special occasion cake designs and wedding cakes, they make the absolutely best pound cake ever, cupcakes, cookies, etc.

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