Bad Comic Book Stores

Teenage Wasteland

Photo by Flickr user Elston

When I go on road trips, I usually make a point to stop by comic book stores. I like comics, and to me there is nothing more fun then scouring around for a while. Any way, on one of my vacation day road trips I stopped by a comic book store that wasn’t so hot. It wasn’t as bad as the picture, but pretty bad nonetheless.

So what did they do wrong?

  1. The most noticeable thing in any comics store is the new issue racks/walls. Some stores leave some of the previous issues behind what is the most current issue. To me this is fine; it markets the recent back issues well. Unfortunately at this store, there was just a hodge-podge of random comics. Behind the most recent issue of Deathstroke was a few back issues from the early 1990s series, and some Power Girl stuff from last summer. That didn’t make any sense.
  2. Nothing was on sale. It was like they ran this store as if it was still the nineties and you could get whatever price Wizard was listing. There is a reason why dollar bins are so popular; reducing the price of your back stock or over-orderd comics is a surefire way to get it out of your shop and generate sales. Those old Marvel Fanfares will never sell at “guide price” but for a dollar people will buy them. Or those Stormwatch and WildCATsbooks that you’ve paid off years ago.The same could be said for their selection of graphic novels/trades. If you read on Bleeding Cool or Comics Beat, you can periodically see that the publishers have mass discounts on their back stock. I know retailers would rather not have to discount anything, but they have to sometimes. Just let it go.
  3. The back issues had a really arbitrary pricing scheme. Certain things that should be cheap were expensive. Things that are rare were bargain priced. And the other two-thirds of the back issues weren’t priced at all. What the heck does that even mean? Is it cover price? Do you haggle? Do they have some sort of commodities tracker that bases it hourly on what is sold on eBay? I had no clue and as too embarrassed to act.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t deal enough with this store to actually buy something. What are some of your comic book store nightmares?

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12 thoughts on “Bad Comic Book Stores

  1. I run into the other problem of weird reactions to the whole, OMG it’s A girl! The other stuff I don’t mind as long as I get treated like a human being. It just means I won’t be spending as much.
    There is one in Santa Barbara on State St that has a nice election, but the guy who is almost always there makes me feel so freaking uncomfortable I can’t stand it. And one time I watched him be a jerk to a girl who was clearly mentally handicap. That really bothered me, because, I know people who are mentally handicap can be annoying, I have a few in my family, but there is no reason to be an ass to them. They have a better selection than the one I usually go to, but there is too much of the whole, odd feeling to the store I don’t want to deal with.
    One group of shops I love are the Great Escapes, they are kinda a chain in the Tennessee and Kentucky, they just smell like a comic shop should, you know.

  2. Just another aside, because I just can’t comment enought today, I have a hard time when I’m traveling finding other comic shops too, so unless I know someone in town or just happened to trip and fall into one, I can’t find one. There isn’t like an app or something floating around on the internet?

  3. We had already talked about comic book sellers (and the comic book market in general) in a previous post, but I have something more to say.
    I think that, no matter which work you choose, you must do it in a professional way. If your customers notice you are an amateur, they will forget about you and choose a professional instead.
    To be a professional comic book seller, in my opinion the most important thing is being accurated. All your comics must be in a mint condition, and you must arrange them on the shelves in a tidy and logical way. For example, I agree that putting a brand new Deathstroke issue together with 20+ years aged comics is a clear sign of improvisation and lack of organisation.
    As you pointed out, of course price is another important thing. If a comic book seller buys a comic for 10 hoping to sell it for the double, then for him it’s really hard to give it away for 5: I understand this, but sometimes it is the only alternative to see that comic being devalued even more.
    As Skadi pointed out, being nice is valuable as well. I don’t want the seller to make a big fake smile for me: I meant to say that, when a seller treats and takes care of his customers in a kind and discreet way, this is something really healthy for his activity. The italian biggest comic book shop seriously lacks this. At least a member of the staff constantly gazes you, to make sure you don’t ruin or steal anything; when they are about to close, a loudspeaker asks you 3 times to go out as soon as you can (15, 10 and 5 minutes before the closing time), and they turn off the lights to make sure you take their advice seriously. And, of course, if you have to pay 25,10 euros, for example, they will never tell you “Don’t mind, 25 and it’s ok”: they will make you pay every single cent. I admit it is the best comic book shop we have in Italy in many ways, but the attitude of the staff is too annoying for me.
    What do you think about that comic book shop, and my opinions in general?

    • It sounds like the shop you go to is a little uptight. For me, it is a huge thing as the customer service. The guys I go to are a way smaller shop then most places, but they will bend over backwards to either find things for you, order things for you, and still do pull list, which is almost completely gone out of the area. And they are pretty good about discounts if you are regular. Or friends of a regular. Or aren’t a Dick. Hell, I bring these guys coffee. I feel there needs to be a relationships with the regular, and a balance with new people. If they see you be nice to regular, they are going to want to come back. When I bought Batman Earth One from them, it had been dropped so the hardcover corner was all bashed up and all I did was ask if they had another copy. I still would have paid full price for it, it wasn’t that bad, but they cut 30% off.
      I am also in a job that stresses customer service, so I look for good customer service. Product control goes out the window for me when good customer service.

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