As you will no doubt be aware, the Government recently announced various new guidelines to reduce the lockdown – in particular stating that non-essential shops could re-open from Monday 15th June, subject to assessing and taking steps to manage the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace.
To this end, we have carefully reviewed the new guidance from the Government – in particular the document entitled “Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) in shops and branches” - as well as specific guidance from the Federation of Small Business and the British Toy & Hobby Association.
In addition, we must be very clear that we are closely monitoring the scientific and medical advice, specifically the many warnings regarding re-opening too soon, and the likelihood of a second wave of this pandemic.
We have identified several key challenges to our ability to resume trading as Osiris Games and Proud Lion Comics in the current situation.
Primarily, the small size of either of our retail units will make it difficult to return to anything approximating our normal operations whilst maintaining social distancing. We will almost certainly have to continue to trade out of only one premises, as we did in the last week or so before lockdown. Yet we feel that we cannot create an environment where the general public can safely enter and move around the shop, whilst maintaining a distance of two metres apart - especially as we only have one point of access that can be used to enter and exit the premises, and we are required to limit customer handling of stock.
It will also be challenging if not impractical to have queuing measures outside the shop. Whilst it was possible to facilitate a queue outside 8 St Georges Place during Free Comic Book Day in years gone by, this was a one-off annual occurrence made simpler by virtue of the gated private car park on our left being largely used by office workers, and thus having a reduced need for access on a Saturday during FCBD. Combined with the incredibly narrow pavements on our end of St Georges Place, the public car park entrance, access to Hanna Court opposite, and consideration for neighbouring residents and businesses – we feel that we cannot maintain much of a 2m apart queuing system at this time.
With these key concerns in mind, alongside a myriad of additional challenges to address, we have decided to re-open as a Click & Collect point in the near future. This will be akin to a catalogue shop collection point like Argos for example.
We will be relaunching our webstore as soon as possible, continuing to offer nationwide delivery and are in the process of negotiating for a new shipping contract that should allow us to offer faster dispatch times and hopefully lower postage costs.
Alternatively, you will be able to purchase online (or via emailed invoice) for collection from the premises. We will be implementing an appointment system for collection slots, ensuring that we space out customer interaction for everyone's safety and leaving ample time to clean high-traffic surfaces between customer visits.
Obviously, if you or someone you have been in recent contact with is displaying COVID-19 symptoms, feeling unwell or in a high-risk category, we must insist that you do not use the collection service out of respect for everyone's safety. Please continue to follow the medical guidance regarding self-isolating, and consider having your purchases shipped to you.
We may re-implement the local delivery option we were poised to launch until lockdown nipped that in the bud, but that requires further risk assessments, so will not be an option in the foreseeable future. Whilst restaurants and fast food services have done a commendable job expanding their local delivery capabilities, we feel it contains too much of a risk for our volunteer drivers and our customers at this time.
Our initial opening times for collections will be finalised soon, but we will not be re-opening the week commencing 15th June.
We currently expect to be open Wednesday-Saturday towards the end of June (tbc). Further details regarding all of this will be made available before we re-open.
We will of course have hand sanitiser available for customer use whilst at the premises.
You can expect to see a greatly increased presence on social media as we highlight and promote exciting new releases, hot items tied to anticipated media events and new special offers. It would be immensely helpful if you could like and share as many of these posts as you feel comfortable with, as organic reach on social media is far superior to any sponsored posts (though you can expect to see a few of those too!).
We obviously anticipate no in-store organised play for gaming any time soon, which is particularly heartbreaking, but we are continuing to explore remote play and play-at-home options for the short term.
We want to thank everyone for their understanding and continued support, it means the world to us all. As things have unfolded you have adapted to our changing circumstances alongside the stress and disruption to your own routines – life has become a co-operative game again and you're all superheroes in our eyes.
Our intention is to keep trading, but continue to prioritise everyone's collective health and safety above everything else. Otherwise all of the sacrifices over the past few months will have been in vain. If you can continue to stay at home, we encourage you to do so as hard as that is, and we will happily ship your purchases to you as often as you want! For our part, we will not be bringing anyone back off furlough until we need them or have no choice, and will be looking to work from home where possible for things like our marketing and administrative duties.
If you or any of your friends and family have been directly affected by COVID-19 itself, you have our utmost compassion and sympathy. We hope the continued research by the international medical community and the hard work of the valiant medical care workers can turn the tide for good in due course.
Much love to you all.
Many of you will be already be aware that late Friday afternoon, news broke via Hollywood Reporter and other sources that DC would no longer be distributing their comic books, graphic novels and collectibles through Diamond Comic Distributors, ending a 25 year partnership.
During the US and UK lockdowns, most publishers chose to put their comics schedule on hold, understanding that printers, logistics and comic shops would be affected by the lockdown. DC were the only publisher to decide to quickly resume regardless of the crisis, continuing to publish their comics digitally and announcing partnerships with two new "temporary" distributors. It wasn't initially disclosed - but was quickly discovered by canny US comic book retailers - that these new distributors were actually owned and operated by two of the largest online comic book retailers in the United States.
As you may imagine, this didn't sit well with the mostly independent community of US comic book retailers, with a large majority preferring to not sign up for an untested service operated by deep-discounting competitors, rallying behind the social media hashtag, #WaitForDiamond.
Here in the UK, we had no choice. Diamond UK had completely locked down too - quite rightly halting service halfway through a delivery consignment from the US - and neither of these two new distributors were offering shipping to the UK. Which makes sense, because of course, they were only temporary. And in fairness, we would have also preferred to #WaitForDiamond.
Recently, Diamond started back up again, with a slow but steady trickle of new comic books. Most publishers have re-evaluated and spaced out their release schedules, ensuring that most beleaguered retailers and cash-strapped customers aren't suddenly overwhelmed by a flood of new purchases (though it is notable that DC's comics are coming through at a a pace not seen since the early days of the New 52, as Diamond struggled to catch up with the issues DC had published during the lockdown!). There was a great sense of re-ignition across the whole industry, with publishers and retailers triumphantly supporting Diamond's #BackTheComeback campaign, hints of a revised date for Free Comic Book Day, and even new publishing initiatives to help the Direct Market.
Here at Proud Lion Comics, we have been considering our position come June 15th (and we will be releasing a statement in the next few days) and greatly appreciate the efforts being made to support our industry by the publishers, creators, fellow retailers, Diamond Comics themselves and of course, all of our wonderful customers.
This news from DC is a kick in the teeth for almost everyone. Which is probably why they released the news on a Friday, when there'd be little time for scrutiny. UK comic book retailers didn't receive the email from DC that is spoken about in the Hollywood Reporter article as far as we know; it seems we all learned about it at the same time as many of yourselves, and Diamond UK who were understandably caught completely off-guard.
If you're wondering what happens next, so are we.
The final issues of any DC Comics we will receive through Diamond will arrive Wednesday 24th June:
There will be no DC titles released through any physical distribution channel on Wednesday 1st July; publications will then resume via the two new US distributors the week after.
Here's what we do know:
Ultimately, we don't know what's going to happen next, and anything more becomes speculation. We await an official statement from Diamond UK - once they've had chance to assess this sudden seismic shift - and at the moment we are trying to remain hopeful that a clearer vision of the path ahead will emerge in the next few days. We're not impressed with this decision, but we're not breaking out the Kryptonite and blowing up the Batcave just yet.
We ask that you refrain from sending in any questions about this for now, because this is all we know at present. Many thanks.
Hey folks, we hope you’re all keeping safe and sound! We have been staying at home for the last six weeks as all staff were on furlough, but as of this week, Rae will be returning to work to operate a postal only service for comic and gaming customers. She will be working on her own to minimise the risk to other households, so please be patient while new processes are put in place to ensure she is keeping herself, and our customers, safe!
We’ve had a few questions, and we imagine this will generate a few more, so here are the important answers.
Why didn’t I get an invoice for comics in April?
Diamond UK shut their warehouse for the lockdown with the rest of the country, and did not release any comics for the month of April. Diamond US the following week announced all new releases would be paused while the US entered a similar situation. With no new release comics, there was nothing to invoice you for.
When will new comics be available?
The first round of new comics have arrived this week; these were titles that were intended to be released on 25th March but were not shipped before lockdown. Diamond US intends to resume weekly releases from 20th May, and we expect Diamond UK will aim to do the same. That said, please be aware that there may be delays and amended release dates - comics used to ship to the UK on commercial flights, which obviously are not taking place right now, so we are likely to see some changes while the industry adapts to a new method of international shipping.
What’s going on with Previews for comics?
Previews for April 2020 have arrived with us this week, but unfortunately we will not be able to get physical copies out to customers before the order deadline. A free digital copy of April Previews has been made available, and a link to this was sent out via email in April for customers to review (please check the Proud Lion blog at www.proudlioncomics.com if you don’t have this). All April Previews preorders are due by no later than 10am on Monday 18th May. At this time, Diamond are not planning to release a Previews catalogue for May 2020.
When will new games be available?
Some new game items will be ready to purchase this week, including new Marvel Champions packs, unpainted miniatures, Pokemon Prerelease packs, and Magic: The Gathering Ikoria products including Prerelease packs. (If you have already preordered any of these products, we will be in touch with you via email very soon.) New releases after this week will depend on our suppliers and when they are able to ship new titles.
How can I pay for my orders?
Comic orders for pull list and rolling reservation customers will be invoiced near the end of the month and will include anything released by that point (and other outstanding orders if applicable); simply keep an eye on your email and pay the invoice when it arrives. Game orders which have already been preordered will likewise be sent an invoice via email, but may come sooner than the end of the month, depending on release dates. New game orders can be placed on the Osiris Games website, and new comic orders can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and an email invoice can be raised.
How will I receive my orders?
If you would like your order shipped and you have told us this, we will add shipping to your invoice. (If you’ve received or paid an invoice and need shipping added, please let us know.) Once paid, your order will be added to our next dispatch day. We aim to ship out paid orders once a week. If you would rather not have your order shipped, we will hold it until we are able to re-open our store. Collection of orders is currently not available.
What about local delivery?
I’m afraid we have made the decision to remove this offer. We appreciate this is disappointing, especially as it was a new option that we hoped would give our customers more flexibility with receiving their items. However, Rae does not drive, and so the only way we could continue to offer this service is to ask a volunteer to put themselves at risk to deliver orders - and that is something we are simply not willing to do, as it is not fair to them and their family.
Will you be running any events?
There will be no in-store events for quite some time, as we cannot do so while enforcing social distancing. We may add events that can be played online via webcam or similar, but this is something we need to do further investigation into before we can put anything in place. Please keep an eye on social media for any updates.
Is there anything we can do to help?
Thank you so much to everyone who asked us this over the last several weeks, you have truly helped us get through some difficult days. The best way you can help us now is to keep us in mind when you’re shopping for new comics and games - and if you have an outstanding invoice with us, please pay it (or get in touch to discuss alternative options if you’re unable to - I promise, we understand people having financial difficulties, especially now!). We would also be grateful if you could please support and share our social media posts, and help us make sure our messages get out there!
As before, this situation is ever changing and we are committed to making sure our team, our customers, and all their families are safe to support Proud Lion Comics and Osiris Games. When further guidance is available from the government, we will keep you informed as to any potential changes. Thank you, and we’ll be speaking to you again soon!
With tonight’s lockdown announcement from the government, Osiris Games inc. Proud Lion Comics will be closed for the next three weeks.
We aim to re-open after the Easter holidays (assuming the lockdown has been lifted and we are able to safely re-open).
We will do our best to ship out or deliver any orders we can, but this will depend on postage and courier services continuing to operate, and whether we are allowed to access our business premises. If these services are unavailable or we are unable to enter our store, all shipments will be delayed, but will be dispatched as soon as possible.
All customers with outstanding orders will be invoiced for any items still held. These invoices will be sent later this week. We don’t do this lightly, but we are doing everything in our power to make sure you still have your local comic and gaming stores in Cheltenham when this emergency passes. If you are unable to pay for your order due to financial difficulties, please email us as soon as possible - talk to us, so we can make the best decisions for everyone involved.
Thank you for supporting us at this very difficult time. In addition to settling your invoices from us, please do consider purchasing gift vouchers for use afterwards or donating the price of a coffee. It all helps and we are extremely grateful for everyone who has done so thus far. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Play games, read comics, and most importantly, stay safe. See you all on the other side.
Please note: we have paused rollout of this service for the time being to ensure our volunteer drivers’ safety.
As promised, we can offer local delivery to supplement our existing shipping options.
Neither Rae nor I are able to drive, so we are relying on some trusted volunteers to facilitate this service. We will be charging a delivery fee to help cover their petrol costs, and compensating their time out of our pocket.
Please see below for the areas covered and the initial delivery costs. Please contact us via email to make arrangements for any order you'd like delivered using this service.
Please note that we will not be delivering every day, but only one day per week to the blue area and one day per week to yellow area. Current projection is Wednesday afternoon for Cheltenham and Thursday afternoon for Gloucester.
We will not be able to give you a timed delivery window, and are likely to be delivering during daytime exclusively, so this service is probably most suitable for customers who are self-isolating and can receive a delivery at any time. We will let you know which day we are coming.
If you need contactless delivery to protect you or our volunteers, please let us know in advance.
Postcodes without highlighting are not eligible for local delivery at this time. Please use existing shipping options.
Delivery charges will not be refunded if there is no one available to receive your delivery. The order will be returned to the shop, and you will be liable for a new delivery charge for any further attempt.
We know this isn't very flexible, but please remember we are relying on assistance from volunteers that we are reimbursing and we don't want to take advantage of their goodwill.
This is a new service for us, assembled quickly to help us all during the COVID-19 crisis, so please be kind if there are any teething troubles.
Please contact us via email to make arrangements for any order you'd like delivered using this service.
Despite all best intentions, sometimes you simply have no choice but to move home. Of course, moving back in with your parents is often stressful, not least because they've turned your old room into a gym or rec room!
Well, here at Proud Lion Comics that's exactly what we're faced with. Due to the pressure of COVID-19, we're moving back into 8 St George's Place - aka Osiris Games - effective immediately.
This enables us to consolidate our cleaning efforts during this pandemic and reduce our overheads so that we can do our best to keep afloat, but obviously its going to be a challenging time ahead for us.
New opening hours
Osiris Games incorporating Proud Lion Comics will have new opening hours starting from Wednesday 18th March 2020. These can be found on our websites, but most weekdays we will be open from 11am-4pm and then 4:30-7pm. We will use the break between 4-4:30pm to have a daily deep clean phase. Updated opening hours can be found on the front page of our websites.
The shop at 8 St George's Place will be closed for half an hour starting at 4pm during the week to allow us to deep clean the store. Our regular cleaning has been extended to include a renewed focus on door handles, card machines, our tablets and computers, and you'll be able to wash your hands with soap and hot water whilst in store. We will also have hand sanitiser available for anyone who needs it. However in addition to this, we feel it is prudent to have an extra phase of cleaning ahead of any evening gaming events for the foreseeable future.
We have had to amend our Reservation Service terms and conditions to insist that customers collect their pull lists every month without fail. Cash flow is critical for small businesses at this point. If you cannot make it in every month - especially if you are self-isolating - please request a monthly invoice and we'll send one over to you.
We appreciate this comes as a lot of you are struggling to pay your bills as well. We aren't suddenly becoming callous monsters - if you need some additional consideration, please get in touch and we'll do our best to come to some arrangement that keeps us all afloat.
Monthly invoices for your pull list can include shipping for home delivery. We can send out your comics via a Royal Mail tracked or signed for service, or using a courier service - whichever ends up being the most economical, unless you have a specific preference. Just ask!
We are just finalising a way of offering low-cost doorstep deliveries of existing stock or pull lists. More details coming soon!
Direct delivery on graphic novels
We recently teased our new Direct Delivery service but as yet haven't had chance to explain further. This is a direct fulfilment service, with graphic novels and manga sent directly from one of our trusted suppliers to your door. Please email us for a quote on any graphic novels you'd like us to order for you. This is a great way to get new reading material and support a local business, and for now we're offering a promotional offer on Direct Deliveries - shipping is just ONE PENCE per book.
Reduced stock levels
Please note due to this move, and the expected downturn in footfall trade due to social distancing and self-isolation, we will be dramatically reducing the amount of stock we hold for the foreseeable future. This means it is critical that you use our weekly FOC blog to pre-order the comics you want, and we will be encouraging everyone to use our Direct Delivery service (see above) for graphic novels and manga.
Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by COVID-19. A lot of small businesses are in the same boat as us - or worse in the case of small theatres, pubs and restaurants - and we urge you all to shop local as much as you can in the coming weeks.
We ask anyone who shows symptoms of the virus to stay away (you're all awesome but please understand why we're saying this) and to act as per the recommended NHS advice at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
If anything changes again as things develop, we will of course update you ASAP - via social media and email where possible.
In response to last night's Government briefing on COVID-19, we have taken stock and decided to implement the following initial responses.
Due to the cosy confines of our premises at 293 High Street, we will be open today from 12-4pm. Access will be restricted to a single group of 1-4 customers at anyone time. Please knock to gain entrance.
This is a temporary measure for today only.
We will have further updates this evening regarding the rest of the week and the foreseeable future, and we are exploring new home delivery options too.
Parking in all council-run car parks will be free of charge every afternoon during Cheltenham race week, for customers arriving from 1pm onwards.
From Monday 9th to Friday 13th March 2020 inclusive, visitors can enjoy the town centre for longer thanks to free parking.
Car parks allowing free parking to customers arriving after 1pm each day from Monday 9th to Friday 13th March 2020 includes the High Street car park, close to Proud Lion Comics:
The full list of Cheltenham Borough Council car parks allowing free car parking during this time can be found here.
Please note this does not include privately operated car parks like the Euro Car Parks one next to Osiris Games.
Campaign two has the whole team here gripped, and we're delighted to say that there's a growing number of ways to bring the magic of Exandria home with you. From graphic novels to comic books, from roleplaying game supplements to beautiful art books, we've got you covered.
Now, the current Vox Machina Origins II comic book has had a few slight delays recently, but rest assured the comic creators, the cast of Critical Role and Dark Horse Comics are all hard at work to bring you the next issue. Issue #5 is currently scheduled for later this month, with the concluding issue #6 expected in early March.
In the meantime, to whet our appetites, here's a look at what's available now and what's also been announced (so far!) for later in 2020 (presented in chronological order):
AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER FROM OUR SISTER STORE:
That's right Critters - this year Vox Machina is part of Free Comic Book Day!
We're still waiting on further confirmation about this next one - it may be that an alternate version is released for the UK/overseas market, with a different ISBN to the one below.
Rest assured though, as soon as we can stock it - we will! Watch this space!
THE WORLD OF CRITICAL ROLE
TEN SPEED PRESS
(W) Liz Marsham and cast of Critical Role
Dive deep into the history of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG livestream with the cast of Critical Role in this definitive guide featuring never-before-seen illustrations and photos.
This haversack of holding definitely has more goodies to discover, including the recently announced official Critical Role Funko POP! Vinyl and whatever comes out of their partnership with McFarlane Toys!
To pre-order any of the items above, pop into either store, check out the Osiris Games webstore, or send us an email at the usual addresses.
Stay turnt my friends!
Diamond Comics UK have informed us that - once again - due to unforeseen circumstances beyond their control, a few pallets of stock didn't arrive at their warehouse in time for distribution this week.
As a result the following titles from Image, Boom, Vault, Oni Press and Aftershock will be not be available in the UK until Wednesday 12th February.