We had the good fortune of connecting with Robert Oeser and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robert, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Oh my gosh, it wasn’t even my idea as much as it was my parents cleaning out my “stuff” from the basement. After they dropped off my numerous boxes of childhood comic books, I found myself rediscovering the fun and enjoyment they brought me. This led to discovering that there was still a huge market for comics, and folks with deep comic book industry and story knowledge. Fueled highly by the current run of MCU and DC movies, as well as series like The Walking Dead and shows on Netflix, Prime, and more, everything old was new again to me! Lets face it; you can’t go to a theme park, the grocery store, browse Facebook, or even turn on the tube without seeing something that spawned from comic books.
Being a bit of a guru on the history of comic books, and having a literal ton of material to sort through, I found it was really fun to start helping other people build their collections, or have a forum to show off their goodies, or even help promote new artists and writers. I loved being part of the community.
As I dove into the current market, the speculation of what is hot, and what’s coming next, was akin to forecasting stocks and the financial market… but X-men and Batman are way cooler! I was able to turn my interests into a fresh venture, and it just continues to grow. My business is called Eco Books: By Collectors, For Collectors. You can find us on social media and I welcome you to come engage in our forums online.
I love comic books, and am thankful to be able to have a new face in the field.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I was a classically trained musician in my college years. However, as many musicians will note (pun intended) you need a side hustle to make ends meet. I found my happiness in hospitality and restaurants. What brought me the most satisfaction wasn’t making the financial side of the business, but rather the outpouring of thanks and gratitude from my guests and staff for my coaching efforts and by leading by example… treating people with the respect they deserve. I hit my numbers each month, but seeing an employee receive recognition from a guest, and seeing them earn promotions as they excelled in their job was my thrill. Seeing my team smile made my world.
As my career grew in hospitality, my interest in comic books never went away. In fact, I was just as excited to read and collect new stories and books as I was when I was a kid; I just had better finances to do so!
My hospitality driven frame of mind is what makes Eco Books spin a little differently. Sure, we like to make our sales and hit numbers, but helping a fellow collector find their “grail,” or turning someone on to a new title… that’s where my satisfaction still hits home. That’s what we drive for. Do we have every book? No, but if you share your wish list with us, we’ll find it. If it’s not our stock, we’ll help negotiate prices for you. We also offer book cleaning services, and we can provide professional grading for your new book.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many things that make our area unique, and packing it all in is the challenge. I prefer to go at a leisurely pace, taking in all of the details, so I’d focus on some of my favorite things to do. Every trip has to have a great dinner, and I can’t do better than House of Tricks in Tempe. I’d have to say that some of the best meals I’ve ever had came from there, and the best way to go about it is to trust your server, and let them guide you through that menu. Next, as my music life is still part of what I do, I have to seek out wherever The Instant Classics are playing. There’s a reason (many actually) that they are consistently voted the best of Phoenix. Top notch musicians, playing fun and engaging music, and usually at a fun place to people-watch. Yep, that’s on any itinerary.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh wow, my wife deserves the shoutout! She not only has the patience to listen to my stories about why a book is a good investment, she also trusts me to make sound business judgements and not just buy what’s cool. I have to thank her for dealing with all of the boxes upon boxes of stash, too! Comics are not her thing, but she always listens to my stories and appreciates my excitement for what I’m planning for the social media sites or talk about who the neat new character is that we will see in a movie. In fact, she’s even helped me design some of my marketing materials since that’s her passion. Anyone who is lucky enough to have not only a supportive, but a patient and listening spouse has a leg up on their dreams.