Comic Store In Your Future – How A Comic Shop Changes You

Posted by March 31, 2017 Comment

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Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics, writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here.

If you open a comic store things should change for you. No longer are you a fan you are in the business. A business has to make money to keep the doors open. As I stated before a person’s tastes and likes will influence a store but the customer base will (or should) determine what a store carries and sells. To everyone who argues the weak line of well if your customer service was better you would sell that. There is a reason that comic series such as Solo sells so low. Averaging maybe two or three copies per comic store ordered in America. It isn’t because every comic store had poor customer service when it came to Solo. There simply was a lack of demand. I read the first issue and wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t a comic I felt would be of interest to my customers. I don’t pitch something that I don’t believe the customer would enjoy.

Am I the world’s best sales person? No, I have had people who have money problems come in and I don’t try to take advantage of them. Yes, there are people who are in terrible financial shape who still want to buy comics or cards. I encourage them to wait till their money situation improves. Everyone is different.  If  I sold necessities such as food then I would most likely be more willing to give out discounts. Collectibles are not necessities.

One of the store’s goals is getting kids into comics. Suddenly we have had a jump in kids coming in to get comics. I don’t know if a kid took a comic to school and it got other kids interested and it spins off to more kids or what. In the future, I do plan on finding out. I don’t ask everyone how they found out about the store on their first trip unless it comes up naturally.

I do believe comics is a good gateway into reading for kids. Reading comics helps make reading feel like it is not work. Often times reading assignments will feel like work for a kid. Reading comics can make reading a habit. A good habit to have of course.

Do kids who like comics get other kids into comics? Yes, when I was in elementary school I did it. I brought in a copy of Marvel’s G.I. Joe 33. G.I. Joe was a popular toy line at the time. The comic brought more background and depth to the G.I. Joe figures. No longer did we just know the characters from the back of their cardboard cards. Cobra Commander had a son? The story? The Mike Zeck cover? We were hooked.

Years later as a teenager I was a big fan of Mike Grell’s Green Arrow. I got my friends into Green Arrow.

So yeah I hope we keep seeing more new kids as comic readers. They are hopefully the next generation of comic book readers.

Donating comics to schools is a good way to get new comic readers. I have learned that it all depends on the school district. For me, the better off a school district is the less likely they will take a donation. I tried to donate a previous Bongo Comics Free Comic Book Day Simpsons comic to the Ankeny schools here and was told it was too violent. A school further away with less funding took them in a heartbeat.

Owning a store at times I will face burn out. Or as everyone goes through when dealing with the general public some bad days. There are some items in my store to remind me why we I got into comics. Why I sell comics. There is even one graded Batman comic at my home. It is Batman 324. It was the first Batman comic I had read and my mom actually spent the 40 cents on it and bought it for me. Yes, I had a mom who would tell me no and stick to it. A guest at my house once asked me if the graded Batman comic was worth anything. I told him no it is only worth something to me. Jim Aparo was and still is my favorite Batman artist. His cover art on the issue would hook me on Batman forever. I still have my original well read original comic from the grocery store along with the graded copy.

At the store, Avengers 190 is on hand. It is one of the first Avengers comics I had ever read. I believe Avengers 179 is the first Avengers comic I read.  Loved them both. Issue 190’s story was even used in a TSR Avengers role-playing game way back when TSR was into Marvel role-playing games. Only played D&D once. Played the old Marvel RPG system a lot. The game helped me learn a lot about the Marvel Universe. I do think having the return of Marvel Universe Handbooks would be great for newer readers. Heck, even old ones like me could easily be tempted to buy them.

I believe a new DC Who’s Who would help their readership and new readers.

Amazing Spider-man #201 and# 205 along with The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #2 and a reprint of Amazing Spider-man #132 made me a big Spider-man fan. In Amazing Spider-man #201 the Punisher was using rubber bullets. That’s no longer a thing. Issue 205 made me a Black Cat fan. The Annual I enjoyed a lot. The issue’s villain the Rapier gained his one fan in the world with me. The reprint issue made me a Molten Man fan. Sadly I have never read the follow up to see how the cliffhanger was resolved. I actually just bought it offline figuring after all these decades I would finally find out.

Is having various comics and toys on hand to remind me of why I do this a good use of store space? Most likely not. It is the fanboy in me. Which again business sense wise it can easily be argued is a mistake. Though after dealing with someone that throws a fit because I told them no over a discount they felt they were entitled to, or dealing with a shoplifter, and so on it does do me good to remember why I am here.

A lot of comic store owners work to many hours. So this is a do as I say not as I do comment. Don’t get burnt out. Take some time away from the store.

In short, remember why you opened your own store in the first place. Odds are it isn’t exactly what you thought or hoped it would be. The reality is different than dreams. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to be productive and enjoy it at the same time.

(Last Updated March 31, 2017 9:53 am )

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