Harry Kremer Award

Criteria updated in 2014.

March 2018 Update: Please send all recommendations and questions to kevin@joeshusterawards.com

The Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer /Le Prix de Harry Kremer pour Détaillant Exceptionnel Canadien de Bandes Dessinées

After 13+ years, since we do not do repeats – the Harry Kremer Award is evolving into a Hall of Fame style award as well as a means to honour the best comic book retailers in Canada.

Every year a new store joins the pantheon of the best in Canada.


The Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer
A comic book retailer is defined as a physical store whose primary retail focus is the sale of comic books in all forms.

Shops are recommended by the general public and a separate Retailer Award Committee reviews all materials received and select a store that has shown merit in a variety of categories as outlined below. Named after the late Harry Kremer, original owner of Now & Then Books in Kitchener, Ontario.

Anyone may nominate a worthy comic shop, including employees, owners and Joe Shuster Award committee members, but the nominees must meet the following conditions:
 The retail location must be in business for at least two years to be considered eligible
 Previous winners are not eligible for nomination; this includes the specific shop as well as franchises or other stores held by owners who have previously won

All nominees will be considered by the Awards Association Executive: this includes The Harry Kremer Retailer Award coordinators and the past year’s winner. Nominated stores will be contacted to provide further information: a written biography of the store and a photo or video walkthrough. As well the shops will be researched online and through use of
secret shoppers, all to determine how well they meet the award criteria.

The criteria for judging includes:
1. Stocking a diverse inventory
2. Overall appeal of the physical store and online presence
3. Customer service
4. Community activity

The judges of this award, aware of the award criteria, are given the freedom to determine their own preferences within the criteria (perhaps they feel that back issues are the most vital component of a comic book store) and grade the shops accordingly.

A four point scale is used:
0 = Poor
1 = Average
2 = Above Average
3 = Outstanding

Total points scoring, as well as debate amongst the judges, determines the final winner.
For persons considering the nomination of a store, here is a breakdown of the criteria:
Stocking a diverse inventory. Providing opportunities for creators’ material to reach buyers is important and this is reflected by a retailer providing the customer a wide range of new and used materials. Special focus is given to the following areas:
 large press comics (Marvel/DC/Dark Horse/Image/IDW)
 small press comics (back of Diamond Previews publishers)
 age appropriate / kids comics
 self-published comics / zines Canadian comic creators and publishers
 Other materials that support and promote comic books as a hobby

Overall appeal of the physical store and online presence. If comic book retailers are the face of the comic book industry to the public, it’s important that the store put forth a quality image of themselves and the comic industry. We look at:
 professional and well-maintained physical appearance
 professional and well-maintained online appearance
 presentation, including lighting, signage, racking, layout
 attention to new comics, back issue availability and collected editions

Customer service. Comic retailing is a broad and diverse business that should focus on providing an exceptional shopping experience. It’s important to stay informed of modern retailing practices as well as building product knowledge to achieve this goal. We look at the following customer service polices and how they work in practice:
 Staff members are friendly, knowledgeable, and present themselves in a professional manner
 Staff members provide helpful suggestions to customers whether they are shopping for a gift or for themselves
 There is a clear sales and return policy, and staff members are able to help customers through any dispute to achieve a satisfactory resolution

Community activity. Expanding the reach of comics is key to the growth of the market. Promoting comics to the community, building and maintaining relationships with schools and libraries, keeping active in social, business, and arts community organizations are all ways to market your business and help you stand out as a community leader.
 What advertising have you used?
 What in-store events have you hosted?
 What charities have you worked with?
 How do you engage in community outreach?
Winners are announced as part of the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards Ceremony.

The Harry Kremer Retailer Award, is named after the late owner of Kitchener, ON store Now & Then Books. Kremer’s store was one of the first comic book specialty shops in North America and Kremer had a tremendous impact as a retailer, aficionado and patron of the sequential arts.

Previous Winners: The Retailing ‘Hall of Fame’

Now and Then Books (Kitchener, ON)
Founded in 1971 by Bill Johnson and Harry Kremer

Note: Now and Then Books continued for a short time after Harry’s passing but is now permanently closed as of 2006.

Strange Adventures (Fredericton/Halifax/Dartmouth, NB) 
Founded in 1992 by Calum Johnston

Note: Still open in 2019 with multiple locations.

Happy Harbor Comics (Edmonton, AB)

Founded by Jay Bardyla

Note: Currently under new ownership (2019).

Big B Comics (Hamilton/Niagara Falls/Barrie, ON) 
Founded in 1976 by Walter Durajlija and Moe Storozinski

Note: Still open in 2019 with multiple locations.

Legends Comics (Victoria, BC) 

Note: Still open in 2019

The Beguiling (Toronto, ON) 
Founded in 1987 by Steve Solomos and Sean Scoffield

Note: Includes expansion stores Little Island Comics, Page & Panel: The TCAF Store. Still open in 2019, Peter Berkimoe, owner.

Librairie Planète BD (Montreal, QC)

Note: Still open in 2019.

Silver Snail (Toronto/Ottawa/Hamilton, ON)
Founded in 1976 by Ron Van Leeuwen

Note: Expansion stores in Hamilton and Ottawa locations no longer in operation. Main Toronto still open as of 2019. Ownership has changed since Leeuwen sold the store and retired.

Heroes (London, ON)

Note: Still open in 2019.

The Comic Shop (Vancouver, BC)

Note: Closed in early 2019 after 44 years of operations.

Amazing Stories (Saskatoon, SK)

Note: Still open in 2019.

Another Dimension (Calgary, AB)

Note: Still open in 2019

L’Imaginaire (Quebec City, QC)

Note: Still open in 2019

Gotham Central (Mississauga, ON)

Founded by Carlos Camera

Note: Still open in 2019.

Variant Edition (Edmonton, AB)

The Dragon (Guelph, ON)


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