An Out-Of-Town LCS

By | Friday, December 28, 2007 Leave a Comment
I'm still visiting with my parents and this morning, Mom noted that she had recently seen a comic shop a couple towns over that she'd never seen/heard of before and it might be worth my checking out. So Dad and I hopped in the car and drove out after lunch.

Like most shops I've been in, it wasn't terribly large. The walls were adorned with superhero posters and such, and the back wall had new comics. Most of the center area was filled with long boxes, stacked two high -- maybe 200 of them in total. There was a counter on one side, opposite the front door, with a 30-something guy with long, blond hair sitting behind a computer monitor. The store, despite having few windows, was well-lit. It was clean and very free of clutter. Just inside the front door was a rack of newish comics aimed primarily at younger kids. The gentleman behind the counter smiled when we walked in and welcomed us straight away.

My first impression was very positive.

I noticed the long boxes were all actually of the drawer variety. First time I'd seen them in wide use, and I pointed them out to my father. He noticed quickly that, since they pull out like file cabinets, that allowed the tops to be used as additional, flat shelf space, which the owner had used to display a number of issues that were a few years old. I tested a couple of the drawer boxes, and they seemed to live up to the hype.

I made my way to the back wall and started scanning the merchandise. I noticed a number of titles that were somewhat more obscure than your typical mainstream books. Stuff that I know is selling in the 4-5,000 range. The guy made his way over to us, introduced himself as the owner and asked if there was anything he could help us find.

This is when things started to go downhill, though.

The radio that was playing started to more audibly register to me. He was listening to a local Howard Stern type DJ ranting about I-don't-know-who being a bleeping bleepity bleepy bleep who didn't know his bleep from a bleeping bleep. Granted, there weren't any customers in the store when we walked in but what if I had brought my seven-year-old niece in with me? Do I want her hearing that kind of language? Do I really want to hear that kind of language?

Strike two came when I turned back to the wall of new comics and realized that there didn't seem to be any order to them. It certainly wasn't alphabetical. It wasn't organized by publisher. I'm pretty sure it wasn't organized chronologically, although I didn't actually have a complete list of every comic that's come out in the past month and in what order. As near as I could tell, he just stocked new issues on the wall in the spots left when another title sold out.

The back issue bins were Strike Three, though. None of them were labeled. At all. The only way you could tell what was in any given drawer was to pull it out and then start rifling through. I think they were organized by publisher and then alphabetically by title, but I only pulled open a dozen or so drawers, so I can't be sure. I also didn't expressly ask, so it's possible that if I had inquired about Quasar #22, he could've pointed me to the appropriate drawer immediately, and I wouldn't have had to pull out ones starting with S, P and R first.

There were a couple of other guys who walked in while we were looking around. They all were greeted by name when the walked in, were given comics from their respective pull files fairly quickly, and left in short order. Not a lot of discussion or chit-chat, even with the semi-obligatory "How was your Christmas?"

The shop had very little in the way of trade paperbacks or manga. They had some Heroclix and about a half dozen action figures behind the counter. But absolutely no trading cards of any kind, no other games besides Heroclix, no posters, no statues, no t-shirts... It was a shop whose merchandise was almost exclusively made of pamphlet comics.

Oh, yeah. And he only took cash. I had to run around the block to the nearest ATM since I almost always use a debit card for everything.

Now, I'm painting a somewhat negative portrait here. And that's because it's not a shop I would really like to frequent. But if you wanted to buy your comics on a weekly or monthly basis, and just wanted to buy comics and the occasional TPB (the owner offered to order Laika for me) it would be a perfectly serviceable shop. The owner was friendly, he seemed knowledgeable (he recognized most of the OTBP titles my dad and I threw at him) and the store itself was located right on a corner of the town square so it's pretty easily accessible. But if you want a shop where you can hang out and talk comics with other local fans, this did not seem to be the place to do it. The place has been around for about 15 years, though (according to the owner) so he must have a decent handle on his clientele.

I always find it interesting to see how a comic shop runs their business in comparison to other shops. It certainly helps me to appreciate the guys who are trying really hard and staying afloat despite the torrent of obstacles in their paths.
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