Exorcising the Comic Shop Stigma

Van Jensen

Van Jensen is a former crime reporter turned comic book writer. In addition to ComicMix, he contributes to Publishers Weekly and Comic Book Resources. He lives in Atlanta, and his blog can be found at graphicfiction.wordpress.com.

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8 Responses

  1. James Sime says:

    Congrats to George Munoz for taking the retailing leap and making his dreams into a reality. It always warms the heart to see people getting proactive and making a change instead of just fussing about their complaints on-line. Really looking forward to checking out his shop next time I'm in the midwest visiting. Way to step it up, Mister Munoz!As for what am I, as a comic retailer, doing? My particular shop was specifically designed to be appealing and to attract new readers to the wonderful world of comics and graphic novels. Those folks are really the whole reason I got into the funnybook game in the first place and thanks to these non-traditional readers business has been quite good. I think my Yelp reviews actually give a pretty fair assessment to the Isotope's strengths and weaknesses in regards to the customers my shop attracts. http://www.yelp.com/biz/isotope-comics-san-franci

  2. Sean D. Martin says:

    Speaking as a customer, I' d like to see a comic book store treated more like a regular book store. I would think this would also tend to make the place look more inviting to the non-comic book reader which is the group you'd want to bring in if you want to expand your customer base.For example, don't cover the windows with the latest X-Men and Final Crisis posters. It makes the place look uninviting when passersby can't see into the store. Comic fans will know the store is there without a window plastered with posters.Make non-superhero books more apparent. Again, fans of superheroes will find them even if you relegate the latest Marvel/DC offerings to the back corner of the store. Most apparent and visible should be things which aren't generally considered the typical comic book fare and are more likely to appeal to the non-comic reader. There are plenty of "alternate" books out there that are adventures, thrillers, dramas, romance, mysteries, humor. All the categories you see listed at the local Barnes & Noble.

  3. Karl Cramer says:

    Drawing from my old retail days, run it like a business. Whenever a store is built on an enthusiast market (comics, music, sports collectibles, videogames) the employees start turning it into an insular clubhouse if the manager or owner isn't careful. Employees can be friendly but they should never be hanging out "Clerks"-style. If they're not busy with customers or stocking, then they should be cleaning. There's nothing worse to a new customer then when they walk through the door and all heads turn and all conversation stops because they're not one of the regulars.

  4. Martha Thomases says:

    Chairs and tables, inviting people to sit down and relax. Maybe some coffee, the way they sell Starbucks at B&N. And cut down on prominent displays of cheesecake. You'll attract more women and kids, who spend a lot of money in bookstores.

  5. dadiceguy says:

    When I still ran the shop in East Lansing I kept the shop clean and organized. Also put stuff to the front of the store that would be appealing to the the casual customer.

  6. Adriane Nash says:

    Since my first, and perhaps most beloved job, was as a salesclerk at my local shop I'm pretty sure I break the stereotype from the word go. But one of the reasons it was my shop for years before I started working there was because it was bright and clean and staffed by friendly people who were in fact well acquainted with soap and water (other shops in the area, not so much).That said we could all geek out and deep knowledge was pre-requisite for employment. (though my manager did say he liked the idea of seeing what a girl would do to the customers)

  7. Adriane Nash says:

    Also, we had a TV playing the videos we sold and often had creators in for signings. Also we had a gaming section and there was a some original art on sale from time to time. Plus we had midnight screenings of any of the big comics/anime movies where the tickets were only available at the store. All more than 15 years ago so his ideas are neither new or revolutionary.

    • Mike Gold says:

      A lot of his ideas — and more — were pioneered in that general area back in the early 1970s by Joe Sarno's seminal comic book store, The Nostalgia Shop. Framed original art on the walls, carpeted floors, and Joe's astonishing affability combined with his neighborhood locations made it an enticing venue for hardcore fans and local shoppers alike. Joe would never be anybody's idea of the Comic Book Guy, but he's just as knowledgeable.Then again, the Comic Book Guy was also a member of mensa. That's really true-to-life; I swear mensa meetings looked like comic book geek gatherings. Today, more like computer geek. And I mean "geek" in the nicest possible way.