Retailers play an important role in the book trade and this is especially true in comics. Most comic stores or outlets are driven by entrepreneurial small-business people who are doing something they enjoy. The brick and mortar comic store has gone through a number of changes in the past 25 years, but we’re glad they exist. So, to help connect readers with a comic shop in their area we’re going to run interviews with stores.
The Joe Shuster Awards love comic shops big and small, so we will be placing a special emphasis on small town stores. If you would like to see your store profiled here, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would be happy to help you show off your store.
Today we have Big B Comics, winner of the 2008 Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Retailer.
Owner’s Name: Marc Sims & Walter Durajlija
Manager’s Name: Marc Sims
Number of Employees: 8
Years in Business: 11
Physical Address: 1045 Upper James, Hamilton, Ontario, L9C 3A6
Phone Number: 905-318-9636
How did you choose your store name?
You don’t want to know.
Favorite Comic Book, published in the past few months:
Five all-time classic comics, graphic novels or story arcs:
Batman Year One
Herbie 1-24 (ACG)
Asterix and the Legionary
What are you excited about for this coming year? What are your plans for the next 12 months?
We are excited about upgrading to Point of Sale system this month, continuing to improve the store, and serving our ever expanding customer base. Seeing what effect the economic downturn has on our industry will be interesting. Our business plan for this year is cautious optimism. Hamilton will lose a lot of jobs in the manufacturing sector so we are building a war chest and plan to be opportunistic when it comes to any investment/expansion.
What has been one of the most rewarding parts of running your business?
My closest friends are business associates met in comics or former customers at the store.
What has been one of the biggest challenges?
Finding and retaining quality staff. When you get someone good it is difficult to offer salary/benefits in line with what talented people could receive outside of retail.
Why are you a comics retailer?
I love comics, obviously, but also just the joy of being your own boss and building a little empire with unlimited potential.
Product Lines Carried:
Comics (New Releases), Comics (Gold/Silver/Bronze Back Issues), Comics (Bargain), Graphic Novels (new), Graphic Novels (used), Manga, Collectible Card Games, Clix, New Toys & Plushes, Statues & Busts, Apparel, Posters, Art Supplies, Magazines
Best selling books (and Best selling manga if you sell manga)
Comics: Buffy, Whatever current crossover Marvel & DC are publishing, New Avengers, Batman
Graphic Novels: Watchmen, Walking Dead, Y The Last Man, Fables, Bone, Runaways
Manga: Naruto, Bleach, Deathnote
What percentage of your business is comics compared to the peripherals of a ‘culture store’?
80% current reading material of some sort.
What books do you find yourself recommending the most?
Criminal, Captain America, Killing Joke, Watchmen, Fables, Walking Dead, Runaways, Bone
What great comic/manga should everyone under 14 be reading?
What comic/manga would you recommend for an adult interested in returning to comics
(superhero / non-superhero)?
Superhero: Captain America
How important is the web to your business?
Does your store have an area of expertise? What makes your store unique?
Gold/Silver selection best in Ontario
Graphic Novel selection best in Ontario?
Describe the comic book scene within your community?
In Hamilton proper there is not much of a scene.
Do you participate in Free Comic Book Day?
Yes, every year so far.
What aspect of your store are you most proud?
What have been some or your best/most fun promotions/events?
Most fun: Anniversary Sale 2008, barbecue, superman in costume, trampoline, weekend long sale, many happy people.
Most Effective: Movie theater promotion during Sin City. Nothing else has generated as many brand new customers.
Have the last few years of Hollywood film releases changed your customer base?
Yes, certainly. Latest Batman especially.
Graphic Novels have been a growth product for large bookstore chains, does this affect your customer base or business?
Not as far as we can tell. The local bookstores have a terrible selection of graphic novels and manga.