Comic Book Daily: Don’t Support Your Local Comic Book Store?

The Whosoever Holds this Hammer blog at Comic Book Daily discusses the need for comic book retailers to strive to do better in 2010 if they want to continue to serve their community and maintain customer support.

We here at the JSA’s are very pro-comic book retailers and want to support them where we can. While  the columnist’s sentiments that a comic book retailer should be working to keep and encourage community support of their comic book store is correct — that means some work on their part. Of course, it’s only common sense that keeping a store clean, accessible, customer friendly and staffing it with courteous and knowledgeable employee are ways to improve the shopping experience for your customers.

UPDATE (1:15AM Saturday morning):

In retrospect, after reading Robert’s lengthy reply to this brief article link I do see that aggressive and deriding tone to the column, but that kind of approach is often equated with the “wake up call” approach that many columnists adopt when trying to shake things up. I’m certainly not advocating that people stop shopping with comic book retailers, but retailers are providing you with a service and they should be willing to work with customers (within reason) to keep existing business and hopefully attract more customers in the process. Many of the great stores that have been previously nominated for the Kremer Award in the past years have taken an approach that resembles what the columnist is advocating, but I do agree that he could have done it less sensationally. I’m only marginally aware that there is a fellow offering his services as a comic book store adviser, but I did not realize that the columnist was the same individual.

4 thoughts on “Comic Book Daily: Don’t Support Your Local Comic Book Store?

  1. A moment of self reflection: recently I referred to a comic shop as a sweaty man cave. That was not a productive comment, especially considering my role as Retailer Liaison for the Joe Shuster Awards.

    Despite that, I was offended for comic shop owners by the article written by Mr. Falcone. Falcone has appeared on Comic Culture, the official radio show of Comic Book Daily hosted by Walter Drujlia, owner of Big B Comics and Chris Owen. During that particular show, Mr. Falcone promoted his business as a comic book shop consultant. He has an agenda, but in the end, we all do.

    While I have strong opinions of what a comic book store should strive for, opinions I expressed as a recent guest on the very same Comic Culture radio show/podcast, Mr. Falcone comes across far too angry and mean spirited.

    Frankly, harping on the physical appearance of a sterotypical comic retailer is not productive, actually, it’s a non-starter in my opinion. Rubenesque, ape, ignorant, overweight, chronic flatulence, these are the descriptors Mr. Falcone has applied to comic book retailers. Unproductive baiting at least. Needlessly hurtful words, definitely.

    If the goal was to engage retailers, this certainly wasn’t going to keep the retailer engaged.

    Not that retailers were the target audience, this article was written as a call to customers, directly telling them to stop shopping at comic book stores.

    Yet even these customers were not spared Mr. Falcone’s sharp tongue. The customers that Mr. Falcone claims to champion are derided as nerds repeatedly and the stores you find them in are “nerd-filled”.

    I’m in constant contact with comic retailers, providing them advice on products to stock, ways to improve the appearance and vibe of the store, but I also understand that there are market limitations. These are small businesses afterall. They focus on a product which has a limited market, despite our best hopes and dreams, yet they generate enough profit to provide employment, pay mortgages and rents; they put food on a lot of tables.

    While some of Mr. Falcone’s points are valid (certainly comic stores should be clean and customer friendly, points I made on Comic Culture very recently) he comes across as too angry to be productive, in my opinion.

  2. The article at Comic Book Daily used satire to stress it’s point. Unfortunately we need a wake up call now and again to see things are they are and make a change.

    Unfortunately we’ve all been in comic shops that are overcrowded, dirty, poorly lit and then are completely ignored or ill treated. A shop in Niagara Falls is so overcrowded you can’t walk through it. A shop in Toronto has staff that ignore people and lack customer service: the only person I can identify as working there is the cashier. A shop in Hamilton has staff with hygiene odor issues. A shop in Buffalo keeps their back issues in a locked room and you have to request to see them. A shop in Stoney Creek has so much inventory it’s piled above the heads of the customers in stacks that could fall over at any time. Kevin refers to “common sense” but unfortunately it’s not common.

    Would you shop at a butcher that was dirty? Would you shop at a grocery store that was so overfilled with inventory you couldn’t navigate the isles? Why would a customer have to work with a retailer to actually get a good shopping experience? Do you approach the butcher and suggest cleaning up? Do you speak to the retailer and suggest clearing out some stock or moving to a bigger store. No you don’t: you speak with your dollars and stop shopping there.

  3. Big difference between a butcher and a comic book retailer — you don’t eat the products a comic book retailer is selling… that’s common sense… then again… if you say it’s in short supply… pass the ketchup.

    Our position here is clear – we have to be positive, we have to be supportive. If retailers want recommendations, here’s a great way to learn about what others are doing and trying to improve their stores and the shopping experiences for their customers. If they don’t, well, so be it.

    But again… the article talks about abandoning your local comic shop if it doesn’t meet a laundry list of recommended changes/upgrades. I can understand if you walked into a shop like the ones you mention above for the first time and were so put off that you don’t want to return. That makes sense. But if it’s your regular shop, why would you make it your regular stop unless you were getting something positive out of the experience?

    Changes can be expensive and sometimes people have to be talked into them. Change is risk.

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