Comic Retailers – L.A. Mood Comics & Games (London, ON)

L.A. Mood’s was my comic shop of choice when I lived in London, ON.  Gord and Carol were always friendly, charming and interactive with the customer base.  This successful family run business is in it’s 17th year.  One thing that has impressed me about the London comic scene, which is quite competitive, is the fact that all of the stores work together once a year, on Free Comic Book Day, in a joint effort to reach out to the whole county and build interest and market the medium.  A wonderful idea!  — Robert Haines

Owner’s Name:  Gordon Mood and Carol Vandenberg

Number of Employees:  4

Years in Business: 17

Physical Address:  350 Richmond St,  London,  ON,  N6A 3C3

Telephone Number:  519-432-3987

Website:  www.lamoodcomics.com and  we have a blog

L.A. Mood's location on Richmond Street in London

L.A. Mood's location on Richmond Street in London

How did you choose your store name?

The store was originally owned by Gordon Mood’s father, Lawrence A. Mood, as a stamp and comics collectable store, just called L.A. Mood. When Lawrence retired, Carol and Gord changed the name to L.A. Mood Comics & Games, and dropped the selling of stamps.

Favorite Comic Book, published in the past few months:

Gord: Conan

Carol: Mouse Guard

Five all-time classic comics, graphic novels or story arcs

Carol’s: Kabuki,  Bone,  Y: the Last Man,  Mouse Guard,  Collected Doug Wright,  Lenore

Gord’s: Pyongyang,  Conan
What are you excited about for this coming year?

Watchmen movie, we are planning a Watchmen screening for our customers.  FCBD of course!  We have Diana Tamblyn and Willow Dawson doing an instore signing.  Starting up a local Graphic Novel group.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

Starting a graphic novel group that will consist of picking a GN/TPB and discussing it on-line while also having regular group meetings.

For regular events: we are thinking of celebrating Spider-Man and Hulk 600th issues with cake for customers, making August Archie month for the 600th issue…anything to make the dog days of summer more exciting!

What has been one of the most rewarding parts of running your business?

Meeting people

What has been one of the biggest challenges?

Competition; locally, they keep us on our toes, as well as on-line sellers  and big box stores.

Product Lines Carried:

New and back issue comics, trade paperbacks, graphic novels, wide variety of  board games, Dungeons and Dragons as well as other role-playing games, Magic, Hero clix, toys.

Best selling books

Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Maus,

What are your Best selling monthly comic books?

Buffy and Dark Tower, X-men,

What percentage of your business is comics compared to the peripherals of a ‘culture store’?

40% comics and trades, and 40 % games and related, 20% other.

D&D

What books do you find yourself recommending the most?

Depends on the customer, but often it is Watchmen, Y: the last Man, Dark Knight Returns and other Frank Miller, as well as a variety of Batman books, Astonishing X-men, Walking Dead, Wolverine: Origin, Maus, Pyongyang, Ghost World, Lenore, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Marvel Essentials, Ultimate Spider-man, Scott Pilgrim

What great comic/manga should everyone under 14 be reading?

Bone because it is wonderful, well written, well drawn book, Simpsons, because it is colorful, funny, entertaining with no monthly commitment and it will still be funny when you go back to it 10- 15 years later.

What comic/manga would you recommend for an adult interested in returning to comics?

It depends on whether they want nostalgia, or something new. If it is nostalgia, Marvel hardcover reprints are great, the Omnibus, the Visionaries series, the Essentials, Conan from Dark Horse.

If their tastes run along the worldly and current events, we like to recommend Pyongyang, Joe Sacco books, or if they run to historic, Maus.

Superhero: If they don’t want a monthly commitment then, something like Superman Red Son or Dark Knight Returns, Arkham Asylum, The Killing Joke, Watchmen, V for Vendetta are all good reads.

How important is the web to your business?

We try to keep up with the current trends, we sell on ebay and have an ebay store, we have a website, which has been recently updated to include a shopping cart program.  We have a blog to keep our customers up to date on current events in the store such as tournaments and sales.  The blog replaced our printed newsletter, and is easily kept current.  We use the store’s emailing lists to keep customers informed of upcoming sales and events as well.  We often communicate with our customers via email, changing subscription lists, and taking orders, etc.  We have used You Tube to upload any interviews we have done on TV.

Does your store have an area of expertise? What makes your store unique?

Quality and Premium Back issues and customer service

Describe the comic book scene within your community? (e.g.: amateur comics, anime/manga clubs, comic clubs, convention events)

I would say that within the last 5 years the comic scene in London has waned.  A few years ago there were quite a few anime and manga clubs and there was even a comic artist group that got together once a month but they stopped.  It often goes in waves, driven mostly by the university clubs, and then wane because most of that particular group graduates.  But within our store our gaming clubs have become more dominant and have lasted, due in part to support by the gaming industry and because games are a group activity; it is harder, but not impossible, to make comics a group activity.  We found because of Watchmen, people want to discuss GN’s which is why we are starting the Graphic Novel Group.

Do you participate in Free Comic Book Day?

Always!  We even have coordinated a coinciding event called ‘Comic Shop Crossover’ that involves 4 other comic retailers in the area.  The stores get together to give away prizes to customers who visit all 5 stores on FCBD. We make up a passport that gets stamped at all stores and then are entered into a draw at the end of the day.  This makes London one of Ontario’s best stops on FCBD.

The London FCBD Passpost - 5 local stores work together to build up the audience.  Somehow I don't see something like this working in Toronto.

The London FCBD Passpost - 5 local stores work together to build up the audience. Somehow I don't see something like this working in Toronto.

What aspect of your store are you most proud?

Our Customer Service: we treat all customers with respect, we try and remember their names, we will order in what we don’t have, and we will mail to those who live out of town.  Our customer base extends beyond the borders of our city.  We are proud that we worked together with our competition to create Comic Shop Crossover in conjunction with FCBD

What have been some or your best/most fun promotions/events?

Free Comic Book Day and comic Shop Crossover. We also participate in D&D Days.

D&D Day at L.A. Mood

D&D Day at L.A. Mood

Have the last few years of Hollywood film releases changed your customer base?

Some of the movies have brought more customers in the store that would not have come in before, especially 300, Sin City, the recent Batman movie drove sales of The Killing Joke, and The Joker.  Watchmen sales are up as well.  Spider-Man movies do not change our sales, and Iron Man only had a small change within our own customer base.  If the movie is based on a specific book people who would not normally come in will seek out the book, but they will not come in for a well-known character such as Spider-Man.

Graphic Novels have been a growth product for large bookstore chains, does this affect your customer base or business?

When the Canadian dollar  was doing well, we got customers because our prices were better.  In respect to Manga, we were losing customers to the book stores because they had a bigger selection, they were in the suburbs, and bookstores received the books a week or 2 ahead of us.


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