I have been to many, many awful comic book stores. I consider it a blessing anytime I’m in a good one. I’ve found great stores from coast to coast.
Play the Game Read the Story in Syracuse NY. Midtown Comics in Manhattan. Legends in San Jose. Of course Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. There are things that a good store does which reward the shopper. These are those things.
1. Free copies of Previews. Previews is the catalog of catalogs. Every month hundreds of pages of all new material is announced. Ranging in price from one dollar to thousands, there’s something in here for every single fan. For most fans, there’s many things. The fan then takes this list of things he never would have known about, but now needs in order to live, to his local comic shop. That comic shop orders these products and then sells them for a profit. A profit that is more than the $4.50 loss for giving out a free copy of Previews.
2. Doesn’t look like a place for people to hang out, even if it is. A comic store has to look like a store. Not like a rec room. (Is that term even used anymore? Anyways…) Yes, chances are the regulars will hang out there for hours on end. Playing games, shooting the shit, or sifting through the back issues. But it cant look like they’ve been there all day. Remember, someone who loves your store just told a friend or family member about it. That person doesn’t know anything about comics, or the world we fans inhabit. Make their visit a comfortable one, so that maybe it wont be their last.
3. Passionate employees. Have you ever been in a store where people are forced to sell things to you? If not, go to Borders and come back here when you’re done. Comic stores are the last line of independent cool stores. Book stores and record stores have fallen aside. Corporations want you to buy their shit, and lots of it, and force the low payed employees to sell more and more of their items down your throat. No, I would not like to buy a bag of pretzel M&Ms. However, I’ve bought Proof, Chew, Arkham Asylum and thousands of dollars more worth of comics because of conversations with the employees. Not being talked to, or at, but a back and forth intelligent conversation. All of that because they were passionate about what books they were reading, and enjoyed speaking with a kindred spirit about them.
4. Events. Get people into your stores. Do something, anything, for Free Comic Book Day. Have local bands play, set up a table of comics at the movie theater when the next comic based film comes out. Look how big UFC is now. Go to a restaurant showing the PPV (like Buffalo Wild Wings) and give away some comics during the night. You’re telling me your average fan of MMA wouldn’t enjoy The Boys?
5. Adaptation. If you run a comic store in 2010 and you don’t have a website, get the fuck out of the way. That is the least you should have. Get on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. The more sites you’re on, the more exposure. Hype up sales, new issues, even host a message board so you and your customers can discuss the latest comic. The more your store feels like a community, the more your customers will want to come in. Just tweet them a reminder to bring money.