Friday, September 30, 2011

A Tip to Displaying Comic Books for Sale

On my most recent visit to my local comic book store I decided to wander through the independent comic racks. I have been thinking recently that I have been purchasing too much of the mainstream material, which is not a statement that what DC and Marvel is producing is poor but rather that I was hungry for something a little different that didn't involve spandex and mystical powers.

While perusing the racks of comics I noticed how some areas of the store where not utilized as highly as others, and how people went through the older racks more quickly than the area that held the week's new releases. The principle problem is that comics are placed on racks that have rows too low to the ground. I understand that space is a premium in comic stores and you don't want the racks too high because then it offers privacy for shoplifters. However, most shoppers will not bend over, kneel down, or even glance downward to see what's on the bottom of the rack. This means that roughly 50% of the product is not even being seen!

White shelves help a lot!
The solution? Place larger items on the bottom of the racks. Use large hard covers, trade paperbacks, and toys to fill in the bottom of the racks. Then have the comics on the top. This will leave less room for some of the comics but what does it matter if they weren't selling anyways? Use the comics that aren't selling as: promotional giveaways, discounted books, compiled into sets o be sold, put in boxes with the other back issues, or list them on your online store (or e-bay if you don't have that).

Dark, cramped, & uninviting comic store.
Another benefit of having fewer comics on the racks is that it provides a sense of urgency to the buyer. When you walk into a store with comics spilling out the door the customer will think that a sale must be on the horizon because of the over stock, which also implies the store is not selling a lot of comics and may go out of business. Further, the more issues one sees the less likely they will believe they need that item! Fewer issues means scarcity; the book is popular and must be a good read /investment. So in the end, it will financially benefit a comic book store owner to have fewer comics on display. Take those extra copies and tuck them away in the back until room opens up again on the shelves! It's how every other store in the world works, so why should a comic store be so different?

Most comic covers are dark colored.
Another benefit is that less product makes a brighter and more inviting store. All too often comic book stores are crammed with product. For one, it makes it difficult for staff to keep clean when there is tons of non-moving product constantly collecting dust. Secondly, most comic books have dark colored covers. With all of this dark colored mass comes a dark looking store. Dark looking stores are not inviting, unless you're a Goth (no insult intended). Brighter and cleaner stores means people will feel more welcomed. It also has the effect of keeping people in your store longer because they feel invited. Just because some comic fans still live in their parent's basement does not mean they want to also shop there! Also, a brighter and cleaner store is more attractive for that new audience /shopper which every store owner wants to see more of. If a comic fan brings a non-comic reading friend into the store, that friend will be more inclined to return on their own if they have a positive experience. How can you expect someone to have a positive experience when they enter a store that is dark and overcrowded?

Model your store after the Simpsons!
I suggest these thoughts because I earnestly wish nothing but continued success for the comic book industry. I love reading comics and want to see more people reading them too! I also know that the chances of me opening a store are slim to nil, so I share my ideas on how I would I would run a successful comic store in the hopes that a shop owner will read this, take my advice, and become more profitable. A more profitable comic store is a place that will thrive and support the industry, which in turn means I will be able to continue buying the comics I love!

1 comment:

otherworlds said...

Thank you. I am a comic shop owner and I appreciate and value your observations and your write-up. I will soon be applying some if your suggestions. :).