Reconsidering my Local Comic Store

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?


3 Responses to Reconsidering my Local Comic Store

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Hooper Triplett. Hooper Triplett said: How local comic book shops can build on Saturday's Free Comic Book Day. […]

  2. MOCK! says:

    When I first discovered selling things on eBay and Paypal, I left my local shop in favor of an on-line option. I stopped into the LCS occasionally over the years and slowly but surely they made some improvements, hired less surly employees, and made the store more “friendly”. When my wife lost her job and pre-ordering three months in advance was no longer an option, rejoining the LCS made sense.

    That being said, they didn’t put out much of the FCBD stuff, instead unloading old Image and 90’s era dreck. They did have some kid friendly bags that my boy loved…

    • You make a good point – the LCS is not static. Things change with staffing, pricing, services, benefits. But a local shop needs to consider the online sellers as competition, not just the other shops locally.

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