Comic Retailers – Metropolis Comics & Toys (Burnaby, BC)

Metropolis recently moved into a new location, across the street. This is an interesting mash up shop which caters to the interests of those growing up in the 80’s.

Look up, there it is on the second floor, the all new Metropolis.

Owner’s Name: Jonny Botsch
Manager’s Name: Jonny Botsch
Number of Employees: 2
Years in Business: 4
Physical Address: #200-4735 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC
Telephone Number: 604-435-4551
Website: www.metropolis-comics.com
Email:info@metropolis-comics.com

How did you choose your store name?

When we originally opened at our first location, we were in Metropolis @ Metrotown (the big mall in Vancouver) and so it made sense to color and theme the store after the Man of Steel. So our graphic designer actually created city scapes and shield logos into our business cards and website. Vancouver is lucky to have three stores within driving distance of each other at different ends of the city that are named after DC cities; Metropolis Comics and Toys, Central City Comics and Gotham Collectibles. Pretty cool.

How many sq ft is your store? 2200

Favorite Comic Book, published in the past few months:

God, I’m reading a lot every week so picking a favorite is a beastly idea, but I could throw out a few. I’m reading Green Lantern (isn’t everyone?), Flash, Shadowland (Which I think is under appreciated), Chew and rereading Hitman. Best ongoing series right now for me has to be Locke & Key, but the most stand out single issue I’ve read in years has to be the issue of Straczynski’s Brave and the Bold where he teams up Aquaman and the Demon. It was recently collected in trade with some other fantastic stories, but that issue in particular must have had Mignola creaming his pants!

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

Daredevil Man Without Fear
New X-men (Grant Morrison’s Run)
Bone
Green Lantern Rebirth
Umbrella Academy

What upcoming books are you excited about in the near future?

This new DC Presents line of super cheap trades that reprint previously uncollected material seems like genius to me. I’ve been waiting for the softcover to Planetary vol. 4 and each book of Locke & Key. Also interested to see what Johns comes up with for Flashpoint next year.

What interesting things are you planning in the next 12 months to make your store even better?

We just did a Transformers parts swap night and we gave away a bunch of stuff and auctioned off some pieces as well as screened the old animated movie and we opened an online store. We’ve got 24 Hour comic day coming up and a two week showing of video game art called (http://8bitsofdestiny.com/) that is very exciting. After Christmas we’ll start doing more shows and conventions on the road to help promote the online store more.

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

Who are you kidding? Comics at cost? I’m living a dream people! First pick! Oh did you mean like helping other people find books? Yeah, that’s nice too…

What has been one of the biggest challenges?

Six months ago we were forced to move out of the mall (They were putting in yet another mega-clothing store that the world so desperately needs!) and we found a place across the street. The mall’s policy is to never direct anyone outside their building, so we weren’t allowed to leave a sign telling people where we had moved to. That has been a challenge to overcome. Everyday three people still walk through the door having just found us again. Word of mouth takes a while.

Why are you a comics retailer?

Are you kidding? I love comics people! People not so much, but comics definitely!

Product Lines Carried:

We have everything from Comics to graphic novels, Transformers to Gundam, Star Wars to G.I. Joe, marvel toys to DC figures, statues, T-shirts, movie, TV and videogame related toys, model supplies, gaming, Magic the Gathering, Yu Gi Oh and a selection of Vinyl toys.

Best selling floppy/monthly books (and Best selling manga if you sell manga)

Brightest Day, Avengers

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

25% (Although I’m not quite sure i understand the question)

What are your Best selling graphic novel/TPB books?

Y The last man
Walking Dead
Fables
Green Lantern
Anything Batman
Preacher
Runaways

What books do you find yourself recommending the most?

See above. There are just some books you can recommend to anyone and know they won’t be disappointed. I find my personal tastes are sometimes too broad for recommendations sometimes and it’s about making people happy, not forcing my personal tastes on others.

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

Bone
Runaways

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

Civil War. It just happens to be one of the easiest to get involved with, it allows readers to buy as much as they want without feeling like they have to get everything and it’s just the right amount of everything in it.

How important is the web to your business?

With the online store having just started, it’s becoming more and more important. The world’s online now and if I didn’t at least have a website with our information on it, we’d be losing out just on people being able to find us, so we facebook and twitter and such.

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

You could take a look at the pictures on our site here and see. It’s clean and has a lot of space for people to walk around and shop. We don’t carry back issues which is strange to some people, but this is a new comic shop and people are looking for trades now so we have a large library to go through. We also have a large glass case filled with loose Transformers that we rotate through like crazy! And because we’re on a second floor, one of the walls is just a large bank of windows and we have five gaming tables for our Friday Night Magic and D&D Encounters as well as Yu Gi Oh on Sundays and it’s cool to have the view.

Describe the comic book scene within your community? (e.g.: amateur comics, anime/manga clubs, comic clubs, convention events) How do you help foster and support your comic community?

Arcana is a local comic company that were at a local convention with in August and we carry the books like Cloudscape’s Exploded View, Jobnik and of course the 24 Hour comic day. I personally own three pages of Y The Last Man that I bought from local artist Pia Guerra as well. Go Vancouver!

Do you participate in Free Comic Book Day?

Absolutely!

What aspect of your store are you most proud?

I guess how diverse the product we carry is. I’m amazed that we can carry so much stuff and I’m proud of the look of the store when you walk in. It keeps unfolding and getting better as we keep hanging up more toys from the ceiling. As you drive by the front, there is a life sized statue of Animated Leia, Animated Commander Cody, a Darth Vader and Han frozen in carbonite looking out the window. A lot of people have said that that’s how they found us again; by driving by at night and looking up and seeing Vader starring down at them.

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

The Transformers Swap meet was cool, but every month we have an 80’s cartoon screening where a projector is brought in and we play a selection of old cartoons and serve cereal. (ed note: $2.50 a bowl!)

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

Sure. The superhero movies have brought in more mainstream and casual readers.

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

Most real comic readers aren’t interested in books that have been chewed on or pawed at by kids and even if that were ok, the selection usually stinks at the big stores.

With the increasing popularity of GN’s/TPB’s do you find yourself stocking these more or less than you expected?

Oh Yes.

There are a lot of upfront cost in a large TPB inventory, are you focusing on a publisher or specific series?

No, different strokes for different folks. Although it’s difficult to keep everyone happy all the time, Diamond has made the ordering process so easy that it’s not difficult ordering books for people.

Is there a publisher or format or genre or style of comic you feel you should do a better job of stocking in your store? Do you intend to carry a wider range of publishers in the future or would these books be special orders only?

We’ve got a pretty full stock of books. We don’t carry much manga, but that was a choice made due in large part to a nearby store that is pretty exclusively manga. I don’t want to steal out of someone else’s bowl.

Are you located near any schools? Is there a college nearby? What percentage of your business would be students? Did the presence or lack of presence of schools influence your decision to open at your current location? What is great about your current location?

We have the mall across the street and that is nice, but a school would only be a minor influence in planning a new location. Most kids don’t read much anymore and they don’t have much money. Although I think Yu Gi Oh sales would go through the roof!

All comic retailers believe they have a women friendly store. What do you do that makes your store ‘women friendly’? What percentage of your business is female?

The only women that would think that our store isn’t friendly to women are probably the ones who don’t belong here. I find most women who are uncomfortable in the comic shop are the ones who are unfamiliar with everything IN the comic shop. I suppose some stores can be dingy or crowded, but that’s not us. We have a good number of avid female Magic the Gathering players, Vinyl collectors and so on. Lots of Buffy and Whedon fans as well. Of course they’re still the minority, but it seems to be growing.

All comic retailers believe they have a child friendly store. What do you do that makes your store ‘kid friendly’? What do you stock in your kids comics section that makes it a great kids section? What percentage of your business are under 14 years old?

No, our store isn’t really kid friendly. I mean, kids are free to come in and we don’t go out of our way to make our store offensive or adult themed in any way, but kids don’t really have much to buy with us. Most of our clientele is comprised of twenty somethings. Most comics today are written for adults and it’s difficult to explain that to parents. And frankly there aren’t enough parents coming in on a regular basis to buy their kids something to read to make ordering Johnny DC stuff worthwhile. Too bad really. But to open an all ages book by marvel and see Ares being ripped in half with his guts spilling out across a two page spread… I think these books have moved themselves away from children. But I wouldn’t want to read a kids book for the most part and I’m the one with the money to spend, right? And when’s the last time a kid wanted a Martian Manhunter toy or to go somewhere other than Toys R Us. Sorry, we don’t do Ben 10.

Do you consider your store a collector store, where you can find high grade books, or long runs of older back issues? Do you find that back issues are a focus for your customers? Has there been a change in the way you give floor space to back stock comics?

With 70 years of comic back issues I wouldn’t even know where to begin. They take up too much space and trades are where things are at. I’m sick of people coming in and asking what comics will be worth money. That’s not what it’s about anyway. Trades don’t appreciate in value, they can be borrowed and shared and they tell more complex stories. We try to sell as much as we can and then whatever is still on the shelf in six months gets put in a dollar bin.

What form of advertising do you use (city newspaper, small/free papers, TV, radio, flyers, word of mouth)? Is there anything unique you have done to advertise your business? Do you believe advertising would make a difference to your business?

We advertise on forums and we have a newsletter, a youtube channel where we sometimes review toys n stuff.

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2 thoughts on “Comic Retailers – Metropolis Comics & Toys (Burnaby, BC)

  1. Pingback: Sequential | Canadian Comics News & Culture

  2. Metropolis Comics & Toys is a great store. There’s lots of variety. Plenty of room to wander about, play a game or catch a flick on special nights.
    The staff is always helpful and very knowledgeable. Some comic stores have staff with bad attitudes. Not here!
    I really feel comfortable there. These are my kind of people!

    Keep up the great work Jonny! (and the other fellow… sorry, I forgot your name… eep!)

    Jay

    PS – Come for the Comics or collectibles… and stay for a round of The Settlers of Catan!

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