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Today we touch base with Comic Encounters, located in Terrace, British Columbia. Like so many small town comic shop owners, Gerry Mattson loves comics. He loves comics so much, he quit his job to open a small business. Without enterprising individuals like Gerry, the comic book community in Canada would be so much poorer.
Owner's Name: Gerry Mattson
Manager's Name: Gerry Mattson
Number of Employees: 3
Years in Business: 18
Physical Address: #102-4435 Lakelse Avenue, Terrace, BC, V8G 1P1
Phone Number: (250)638-7293
How did you choose your store name?
I based it on a favourite board game at the time, "Cosmic Encounter" and changed it to fit a comic/game store.
Favorite Comic Book, published in the past few months:
Five all-time classic comics, graphic novels or story arcs:
Sandman, Preacher, Camelot 3000, Fables, Y The Last Man
What are you excited about for this coming year? What are your plans for the next 12 months?
We are just finishing renovating our store and are just implementing a new POS system. We are in the middle of expanding our gaming area and plan to run demo games every Saturday once it is finished, in addition to running many more tournaments. We are going to heavily promote Free Comic Book Day, both in our store as well as with several school and local libraries.
What has been one of the most rewarding parts of running your business?
The employees and customers I have met and worked with over the years. It is great to have customers who came into our store as children who are now doctors, lawyers, etc., many of which now have kids too.
What has been one of the biggest challenges?
We are located in a northern forestry community and have faced several economic downturns. At times this has hurt, especially when first opening, but we have survived and grown stronger. It has also taught me many things about running my business.
Why are you a comics retailer?
I always loved comics and graphic novels and moved to a town which had no stores carrying these products. Since I wanted to buy them and no one in the area sold these products, I decided to quit my job at the time and open the store and see if there was a market. 18 years later I am still at it.
Product Lines Carried:
Comics, Back Issues, Graphic Novels, Comic Suppliers, Posters, Shirts, DVDs, Toys, Statues, Non-Sports Cards, Sports Cards, CCG's, RPG's, Board Games, Greeting Cards, Candy, Novels, Miniatures, Warhammer and Warhammer 40K, Manga, Magazines, etc.
Best selling books:
Comics-Amazing Spiderman, Fables, Batman, Wolverine Graphic Novels-Hellblazer, Preacher, Sandman, Y-Last Man, Watchmen
What percentage of your business is comics compared to the peripherals of a 'culture store'?
What books do you find yourself recommending the most?
Sandman, Preacher, Fables, Y The Last Man, Hellblazer, Hellboy, BPRD
What comic/manga would you recommend for an adult interested in returning to comics:
Superhero - Amazing Spiderman, Batman, Avengers, X-Men Non-superhero - Sandman, Preacher, Fables, Y The Last Man, Hellblazer, Hellboy, BPRD
How important is the web to your business?
Very important for information, letting our customers know what is going on. Mail orders are also a big part of our business.
Does your store have an area of expertise? What makes your store unique?
No, we are a general store. We are located in a small remote area so we must be a general store in order to survive and prosper.
Describe the comic book scene within your community? (e.g.: amateur comics, anime/manga clubs, comic clubs, convention events)
Sadly, our area is very small. Our city is about 18000, our service area is about 40000. Due to this we have no conventions in the area or clubs, but we have several very talented artists and a couple of published comic writers live in our region.
Do you participate in Free Comic Book Day?
ALWAYS!!! It is the best promotion every year and we give thousands of books away to our local libraries and schools, as well as advertise this event more than any other event we do during the year.
What aspect of your store are you most proud?
Our selection. For such a small population base, our store has a huge selection of comics, games, graphic noels, etc.
What have been some or your best/most fun promotions/events?
Free Comic Book Day is always the best event each year!
Have the last few years of Hollywood film releases changed your customer base?
Not really. Some films provide a temporary increase in a books sales, but this drops with each new movie. The market is becoming too cluttered.
Graphic Novels have been a growth product for large bookstore chains, does this affect your customer base or business?
Yes, it does hurt sales but it also helps. Our local book chains bring in graphic novels, but with no rhyme nor reason. They bring in #3 of a graphic novel, get a new customer hooked, and we sell the person #1, 2, 4+. It gets us business this way, but also hurts us due to heavy discounting by the chains and "big box" online stores.