Monday, December 31, 2007

Best & Worst of Comic Book Retailing in 2007

I'll start with the worst to get it over with. These are not in any particular order other than it's the order they popped into my head.

  • People with large pull lists who decide they don't want comics anymore and never call to tell us. We loose a lot of money fast this way.
  • People with any size of pull list who move away and don't let us know. We always wonder where they've gone as their stack of comics grows.
  • Customers who pre-order high priced items and then decide they don't want them after all or can't afford them anymore. Most of these are special-order items that no one else wants.
  • Late new comic book day shipments. We loose nearly $1000 every time comics do not show up on the original ship date.
  • Late comic book issues. Nothing kills the interest in a comic book like huge gaps between the issues.
  • Mini-series comics where they are all #1 issues but with different names. For example, the Search for Ray Palmer series and the Top Cow "Pilot" issues. These are nearly impossible to track properly in our computer.
  • Comics solicited with one title and then arrive with a different one. Again, nearly impossible to track properly, and difficult to figure out who actually wanted us to hold a copy.
  • Blizards. No one wants to drive out to buy comics during them and we hate having to make our long drive home.
  • Having to kick someone out of the store. We had this happen once this year and it sucked! It was a good business decision in the long run, but very difficult to actually do it.
  • Sales reps who call or stop in on new comic book day, no matter how many times we tell him or her not to.
  • Fellow store owners you think you can trust but then stab you in the back. This makes me sad, sad, sad.
  • Damaged Diamond boxes, because it never fails that the box that is smashed in contains the comics we've ordered the most of and nice hard cover graphic novels.
  • Credit card processing fees. You'd think that with so much use of these cards nowadays that they wouldn't need to raise fees because of shear volume. But no, fees continue to rise. Meanwhile they keep advertising to people that retailers LOVE it when customers use those cards.
  • Always being #2. Just once we'd like to actually win first place in one of these "best of" deals. Looks like we'll have to work even harder in 2008.

And now the BEST of comic book retailing this year
  • Free Comic Book Day! It was our best day at the register since we opened the store. AND we had a great group of Star Wars people from the 501st and Rebel Legion who greeted people. Plus, we had Mike Norton do a signing - and we'd been trying to get him in for a while.
  • Scott McCloud's signing. He is the biggest name we've been able to host so far, and he came because our store was recommended to him by some of the other retailers he'd visited. And after his visit he and his wife said great things about the store.
  • Comic book based movies. 300, 30 Days of Night, Ghost Rider... all of these movies brought lots of new people into the store to buy books that, before the movies, barely sold.
  • Our new Diamond rep, Moria. Yes, believe it or not, Diamond's made the good list. Moria is a fantastic rep who goes above and beyond for us, who always returns our calls, who does her best to fill orders when things are damaged or missing, and who almost always has a good sense of humor.
  • Marvel's Essential sale. Marvel had an overstock of the Marvel Essentials and thanks to that we were able to stock up and offer them at a great price to our customers. This year Marvel Essentials sold better than ever, even the regular priced ones.
  • Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows - our first leap into a midnight release and our first major leap into non-graphic book sales. Plus, we hosted a really, really fun party!
  • Customers who have made TV ads for us. Our best ads are always on cable TV, but usually we throw together slides and I do narration. But this year we had a couple different customers make us some awesome live- action ads that didn't cost us an arm and a leg. Thanks Scott & Kurt!
  • Paying off our small business loan for opening the store. We made our last payment in January of 2007 and never looked back.
  • A good employee. KellyAnn has worked with a broken leg and bronchitis (not at the same time, thankfully) without complaint. She set us up with a new web site and hosts it for us for free. And she is a great supporter of the store both as a customer and as an employee. We're looking forward to having her work even more in 2008.
  • The Dark Tower comic book series. As you'll see in my next post, it was our best selling mini-series of the entire year, and it was over double the next closest series. Regular comic book buyers bought & loved it. Non-comic book readers came in & bought it. It was one of the best things to happen in 2007.
  • The support of our many great customers! Without each of you we never would have made it this long. Here's to a great 2008 together!!


Anonymous said...

You mention credit card fees. Something I've always wondered is do you get as heavy fees on debit cards used as debit cards?

Swinebread said...

Free comic day is great event and I was proud to show folks copies of Dark Tower. The general public is starting to get the clue that comics can be just as entertaining as anything else.

Phil said...

Glad I could be at FCBD as my first official 501st event. :) Although it looks like I won't get out to you guys on a weekly basis, I still consider you my comic book store, and I plan on keeping it that way through '08.

So, uh, don't close or anything. ;)

Happy New Year!

Lisa said...

Scott - I don't know if the debit as a debit card has higher fee or not. We don't do them that way because the equipment is much more expensive. So, even if it was about the same, the cost of the special equipment is more. I know that regular credit cards swiped are the lowest fee, then Discover cards then Amex cards, fees are higher if the card is a check/debit card versus just a regular credit card, fees are higher if we have to manually input the credit card number on the keypad instead of swiping, and even higher yet if we have to call it in (which we've never had to do, but if our machine broke we'd have to do that)

Lisa said...

Phil - we thought it was pretty cool to find out you were a 501st member, and even cooler that you could have FCBD be your first event. Mark your Star Wars calendar for the first Saturday of May this year too! We'd love to have the gang back.

We plan on doing our best to stay open for the foreseeable future. Just do us a favor and keep buying comics from us in the foreseeable future! No moving far away or anything, OK.

Lisa said...

Swinebread - you're right. It's exciting to have so much diversity in comic books right now. Being able to show so many people a comic they'd enjoy is GREAT!!

Devil Doll said...

Whoohoo! I made the good list! *preens*