THE RIGHT STUF INT.
Right Stuf Success Secrets
What made Right Stuf the huge success it
DVJ: When did the Right Stuff come into existence?
What gave you the idea to start it?
SK: 1987. The
company was formed, in all actuality, to sell telescope equipment.
When this didn't pan out, we used the shell when we decided to
acquire the rights to Astro Boy.
Our first release of video programming was in 1989.
DVJ: Financing is the key to getting a solid catalog of
titles. How did you find the
financing? Did you max out
all your credit cards to do it?
SK: Financing for the company was drawn from the personal
funding of myself and my business partner at the time.
We did finance with the bank.
Both of us were involved with other businesses as well at the time,
so we had a history that allowed for bank financing to be possible.
DVJ: How long did it take for TSRI to turn a profit?
SK: The company has been consistently profitable since it
DVJ: Your relationships with anime companies has been key
to your success. How did you
develop those relationships?
SK: The anime industry, especially around the time that the
company was started, was very small, certainly not what it is today.
I have always felt that when you help others, you help yourself.
When we started the company, we had very few titles, and it was
difficult to find anime in stores. So,
we started our mail order division, which carried our titles as well as
the titles from, at the time, AnimEigo, CPM, and Streamline.
Being a customer of these companies put us in a somewhat unique
position as we were also their competition.
We have always been a sort of "neutral" party in the
industry, and have always done our part to make others a success as well
as ourselves. Today, we are
one of the largest customers of all of the anime publishers, and I am
proud to think that we have a good relationship with everyone.
We provide services including fulfillment, data entry, and more to
many of them.
DVJ: Early on, can you tell us one mistake you made or
important fact you wished you knew that delayed or hurt the company?
SK: I was involved with so many other things in other
businesses that I was involved in, that I didn't focus on TRSI as much as
I should have.
DVJ: In the beginning, TRSI prices tended to be lower
than traditional retail and specialty stores.
With the explosion of anime into popular culture, this has allowed
a majority of the retailers, both on and offline to offer those same
products. Why hasn't your
pricing changed to be more competitive? Is the associates program designed
to compensate for it by reaching a wider customer base?
SK: It is true that when we began offering our products, we
did provide discounts to the customers for merchandise, as we still do
today, and the explosion of the internet and interest in anime in general
has caused anime to become much more available, which is certainly a plus.
We still do provide discounts, and now offer a fairly
aggressive preorder incentive. We
added our purchasing club to provide additional discounts, and to provide
news and special offers. We
also have had a great number of special sales, promotions, and coupons.
And, there is more to come as we continue our efforts. The Thursday specials rush can be a sight to see.
Although it is important to provide the best possible
deal we can to our customers, it is also important to me that we provide a
consistent, high level of service. We
aren't just pushing discs through at a minimal margin, we're trying to
make sure that the site is up to date, that we provide information, timely
service and replies, and such.
Many of the low margin companies have folded, and I often
hear about their service. To
me, I have to be proud of our people, our service, and our company, and
this means continually spending money on
infrastructure and on our staff.
So, I have held margins a bit higher. But, I think that customers
still find value in our products and services, and, most importantly, we
are still here. I do
check our pricing often against the competition, and most times we are
fairly close, or beat Amazon.com and others.
We strive to keep a balance between value, and making sure we can
pay the rent. :)
DVJ: While the internet brought out more competitors, it
must have had positive affects too. What
part does the internet play in your current success?
SK: The internet allows us to quickly get information to the
anime world. It
allows us to reach people who have an interest.
It allows the anime community to rapidly discuss and share their
It also is much more flexible for us to provide products
on our website, where we are adding new titles virtually every day, than
it ever really was with the printed catalog.
Unfortunately, and this is the nature of a printed medium, once you
have the catalog created, there is almost always something new that has
been announced that is not in there, or titles which were discontinued,
but were printed because you didn't know that at the time, etc.
We can now provide the whole anime snapshot in real-time.
DVJ: What has DVD meant for your company?
SK: We'd be out of business without it at this point.
Anime Fan has always been an early adopter, and nowhere does this seem
more evident than in DVD. Anime
DVDs were some of the first DVDs out
there, and I would have to guess that 90%+ of Anime Fans
have DVD players at this point, much higher than the general public. DVD has also offered us the ability to end
the "dub vs. sub" debate by providing both on one product, and
has made production of titles like His And Her Circumstances possible. Without DVD, His & Hers would have been almost
DVJ: You have been a major force in bringing anime to
America. If you had to list
the five films/series that have made the largest impact, what would they
SK: Only 5 would be tough.
Here's a few I think:
There is a very nice section, albeit a bit out of date,
on our website that I think addresses this well. http://www.rightstuf.com/resource/resource.shtml
DVJ: Which characters have had the most staying power?
SK: Those that tell a story that can be related to by all.
DVJ: There is no doubt anime has a strong influence on
Hollywood. Which anime title
would you most like to see brought to a live action format?
This show still is my favorite of all.
DVJ: There are several small independent studios making
anime inspired releases Shadowskin by Studio ArtFX and D7 Peacemaker by
Dementia 7 Studios. Have you
seen any of them? Would TRSI
consider offering them as part of it's regular catalog?
SK: I haven't personally viewed them, but we are always
looking for new products.
DVJ: The merchandise section has grown over the years.
Do you talk with companies to develop products you feel will sell?
SK: Yes, most of the anime publishers do contact us for
information and thoughts on new product lines.
I think that there is still a great deal of growth left in this
area. Look at just manga
alone - the number of manga (books) introduced so far this year is already
higher than all of the previous years combined!
DVJ: Where do you see TRSI
going in the next five years?
SK: More of the same. We
will continue to offer select productions, as well as offering a one-stop
shop for licensed anime materials.
DVJ: Ten years from now, where do you see anime going?
Is it just a fad or is it here to stay?
SK: I certainly don't see anime as a "fad."
When the Pokemon bonanza was going on, I was asked by many what I
thought about the show, and was I saddened that I didn't own it.
My answer was always that I thought exposure to Pokemon was great -
because the kids watching this show would grow up to watch the other shows
that are available, and thus, the market grows.
As titles like "Spirited Away" and others continue to
push Anime to people who weren't necessarily aware of it, more and more
people come in to the market to have their eyes opened to the genre and
all it has to offer. So, I
think Anime has plenty of time yet to grow.
The only issue, I think, is that demand may overwhelm supply of