Every year there’s an event called “The Diamond Summit”. This is the single biggest yearly event for comic retailers because this is where my distributor, Diamond Comics, brings all the major publishers together so that they can sell us on the upcoming year’s events and products. If you want to meet Bob Wayne, DC’s Senior VP of sales, it can be done here. If you want to have a beer with Dirk Wood, IDW’s VP of marketing, it can be done here. This is an amazing event that is soooo wonderful that I’ve hopped into a car and driven 9 hours through the setting of Deliverance to be there. One year I forced myself to get on a plane and fly to Vegas to attend this event…and then watch show girls and drink beers while enjoying the Blue Man Group perform. I know, I know…it’s a tough life.
So here’s the rub about attending the Summit. Each year I get to sit amongst my peers and listen to them complain about how the industry is failing on any number of levels. Either the publishers aren’t putting out good books or the distribution network is flawed in X or Y ways or people are bored of comics. “SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE BECAUSE EVERYTHING ABOUT THE BUSINESS SUCKS AND I WANT ANSWERS!!!!1111!!oneone” is typically the level of griping that I hear at many of the panels. It’s very easy to blame the comic environment but I’ll let you in on a little secret: the true fault of stores that are under-performing does not involve the environment or the product. It involves the store owners. But for a store owner to man up and place the blame where it truly belongs is like asking someone other than Thor to wield Mjolnir. It just isn’t going to happen! (unless you’re Odin, Bor, Captain America, Thunderstrike, Beta Ray Bill, Buri, Red Norvell, or Awesome Andy)
So here begins my multi part blog on:
“HOW TO RUN A STORE…NOT INTO THE GROUND…BUT REALLY TO JUST RUN IT WELL. SO IT DOESN’T SUCK THAT MUCH Part 1″ or “I BET YOU DIDN’T INITIALLY THINK THIS WAS THE DIRECTION THIS BLOG WAS GOING TO GO IN Part 1″
Cleanliness and organization
Have you ever wandered into a store and it looks like, at any moment, a chicken and a pot belly pig with mud between its toes would walk out from behind the new comic rack? Now I’ll be the first to admit that my store isn’t the most pristine. You won’t be able to eat your lunch off the floor (unless you like picking dirt and hair out of your lunch). But I will state that my store is regularly swept and occasionally mopped. The aisles are straight and the lighting is good. Nothing sours my shopping experience more than when I walk into a comic shop and the place is just filthy. Old food containers, giant dust bunnies, weird stains on the floor and vermin do not belong in a comic shop. It’s all about first impressions and if someone walks into your shop and their first concern is if they’ve been vaccinated recently then they probably won’t come back. Take pride in the appearance of your shop. If you don’t, no one else will.
My second point is organization. If I take the tour through your shop and can’t figure out where things are then you are going to miss sales. Most people are, by their nature, non confrontational and non communicative. If they don’t see what they want they probably aren’t going to ask for it. They’ll wander around and then leave if they can’t find it. You’d be amazed at the percentage of comic shops that look like a flea market got caught up in Dorothy’s tornado and then vomited its contents into a shopping center. Boxes stacked on things stacked on books stacked on more boxes. Somewhere at the bottom of the stack of disarray will either be fresh compost or a sentient evolved society of dust mites. Both of these points lend themselves to the old “first impression” theory…people aren’t comfortable if they think they’re walking into a landfill and if they’re uncomfortable they probably aren’t going to spend money or even enjoy the experience.
End Part 1