On Business: Store Tours

By | Monday, May 18, 2015 Leave a Comment
Last month, Corey Blake over at Robot 6 started a new regular feature called Store Tours in which he talks with comic shop owners about themselves and their businesses. It includes a lot of shop photos and plenty of anecdotes about general store policies, strategies, and tactics. Blake describes it as "the retailer version of Shelf Porn."

Downtown Comics
I want to highlight this series, and try to drive more people to regularly read it, for two reasons. First, I think relatively few comics readers have much understanding of what's really involved in the retailing side of comics and, as a consumer, would do well to have at least a nominal grasp of how the industry that feeds their fan passions operates. Second, I think it can be incredibly useful for other retailers to provide them with ideas and approaches to improving their own businesses.

Historically, there have been two big challenges in getting information about running a comics shop. There are very few instances where someone owns/operates more than one shop. Since they're pretty much all independently owned, it's much more difficult to disseminate information in any sort of cohesive fashion. That's improved in recent years, thanks to both the internet generally and ComicsPRO specifically, but it's still far from comprehensive. Additionally, most comic shops have little to no competition. They operate almost exclusively at a local level, and only the larger cities are big enough to sustain more than one shop. That means that it's easier to not be as effective a retailer as you might be because you would essentially run a local monopoly. Think of the challenges Jeff Albertson faced when Coolsville opened across the street from The Android's Dungeon.

One of the benefits retailers might find with Store Tours is that they can gain insights and even directly copy good practices without seeming like a copy of the first store. The disparate locations largely keeps stores from competing with one another so, for most customers, the ideas will look fresh and interesting instead of just a copy of the shop from across town.

As a general rule, I'm in favor of more transparency in business and comics have spent too, too long being run in an opaque manner. Kudos to Blake for starting the column! You should all make a point to head over there and check it out!
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