Comic Retailers – Unreal City (Saskatoon, SK)

Owner’s Name: Theo Kivol

Manager’s Name: Theo Kivol

Number of Employees: 2

Years in Business: 1

Physical Address: 139 2nd Ave North, Saskatoon, SK

Telephone Number: 306-649-0370

Website: www.unrealcity.ca

Email: theo@unrealcity.ca

How did you choose your store name?

Unreal City is taken from the T.S. Elliot poem The Waste Land. We thought it was a good name for a comic store.

How many sq ft is your store?

1000.

Favorite Comic Book, published in the past few months?

Beasts of Burden from Dark Horse

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

100 Bullets, Watchmen, Blankets, The Walking Dead, Powers

What are you excited about for this coming year?

First Wave from DC, Mark Millar’s Nemesis

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

Reorganize graphic novel section and increase shelf space. Plan more special events and art shows with comic artists.

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

Meeting new customers and having them return for volume 2 of a graphic novel series that you’ve recommended.

What has been one of the biggest challenges?

Finding distributors for designer toys.

Why are you a comics retailer?

Because comics and graphic novels are awesome.

Product Lines Carried:

Comics, graphic novels, toys, designer toys, manga, DVD’s, t-shirts.

Best selling floppy/monthly books:

Batman & Robin, Blackest Night, Irredeemable, Dark Avengers,

Best selling manga:

Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys

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

Comics are about 20 % of my business.

What are your Best selling graphic novel books?

The Walking Dead, Fables, Sandman, DMZ, Y the Last Man, Criminal

What books do you find yourself recommending the most?

Anything from Vertigo

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

Bone

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

Superhero – Incognito.
Non-super-hero – 100 Bullets

How important is the web to your business?

Fairly important and soon to become more important. My website is about to undergo reconstruction. We’re turning it into a blog style site so that I can update the site more frequently myself. I know people use my current site to find out what my hours are and where I am located. I hope to increase sales through my new website by creating an online community.

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

I read a lot of different kinds of comics so I am able to recommend a wide variety comic books and graphic novels – everything from superheroes to alternative and underground comics. Unreal City is unique because it is a comic boutique. Our space is clean and open and most comic stores are cluttered and untidy. We sell and display framed comic art like a gallery.

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

Saskatoon does not have much of a comic scene. There are a few published creators in town but there are no amateur comics. There was Vehicle, a comic anthology magazine that Unreal City hosted two launches for last year. There were 2 issues but the third one seems to be stuck in limbo. We hope that our new website will help foster a new comic book scene in Saskatoon.

Do you participate in Free Comic Book Day?

Yes.

What aspect of your store are you most proud?

The original framed comic art.

Do you have special event nights/days at the store? What have been some or your best/most fun promotions/events?

Yes, we’ve hosted 3 magazine launches and 2 art launches for comic artists.

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

I’ve only been in business for a year but I’ve definitely seen sales generated as a result of movies like Watchmen.

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

I have only been in business for a year so I’m not sure.

With the increasing popularity of GN’s/TPB’s do you find yourself stocking these more or less than you expected. There are a lot of upfront cost in a large TPB inventory, are you focusing on a publisher or specific series? Do you intend to carry a wider range of publisher in the future or would these books be special orders only?

I carry about as many graphic novels as I expected. I carry a wide range of titles from all kinds of publishers. There are certain titles that sell all the time which I will always carry but it seems with certain titles there is a smaller window of demand. Some titles I will bring in when they’re first published but eventually they would become items that I would special order.

Are you located near any schools?

No, I am located downtown.

Is there a college nearby?

Yes, the University of Saskatchewan.

What percentage of your business would be students?

I would guess that about 35% of my customers are students.

Did the presence or lack of presence influence your decision to open at your current location?

No. We opened downtown because both the other 2 comic stores in Saskatoon are across the river on the other side of town.

Do you consider your store woman and kid friendly?

Yes, our store is women and kid friendly.

What percentage of your business is female/child?

Approximately 35%

Do you have plans to grow these groups?

Yes. I may do a volume discount on comics for kid’s birthday parties.

Do you have a kids comics section?

Yes.

Do you stock comics that are considered kids friendly/age appropriate reading?

Yes.

Do you consider your store a collector store, where you can find high grade books, or long runs of older back issues?

No, our store is geared towards readers instead of collectors.

Do you find that back issues are a focus for your customers?

No.

What form of advertising do you use?

Community radio, small press, postering for events.

Quick questions:
Pull lists: good or bad? Good.
Do you have free pull list? Yes.
Minimum number of titles? No
Do you offer a discount on everything for a pull list customer? No
Do you have them pay a yearly membership fee to get a discount? No. Community radio members get a 10% discount
Do you use a computerized point of sale and inventory system? Yes.
Do you track sales of items to adjust orders up or down? Yes
Do you have a system to ensure a restocking of a sold book? Yes.