I swung by a couple local comic stores last week to pick up new issues (The Guild, Black Widow, and Joe the Barbarian) that I didn’t pre-order from Discount Comic Book Service, and my mind starting to reconsider the local store(s).
Let me lay out some basics:
- I’m a big fan of supporting local business, and by that I mean locally owned and operated. A place that employs my neighbors, and contributes and reinvests in my community.
- Locally owned business must be able to compete with online stores/services, not just each other. If they can’t compete on price, then they need to make it irresistible to go elsewhere. Provide me something locally that I can’t get online – charm, camaraderie, events, personal service.
In my humble little town, there are just 4 comic book shops. None offer a discount for subscribers, so if you’re ordering even a small amount of comics each month, the discounts and tax-free prices at DCBS, even with the shipping cost, beat them handily on price. As Free Comic Book Day approaches, I wonder what could those stores offer to lure me back as regular customer?
Well, two of the stores are non-starters for me. One is a J-Pop/anime/manga focused shop and the other is the stereotypical shop with a gazillion boxes of iffy back issues. Of the two remaining, both are clean, well-stocked with mainstream and indy titles, have a kids area, and staffed by respectable and pleasant people. One has drawing classes, gaming, used video games, and the other is a one-man operation who prides myself on knowing every customer. Both have struggled with the economic environment, and have curtailed their marketing and special events offered in-store.
So, why don’t I go to either? I can’t expect every shop to be like Isotope, but each are missing something. Or maybe it’s me. I don’t know.
Retailers – what is that you think you offer to attract and keep customers?
Consumers – what is it that keeps you going back to shop?