In my neighborhood, we've got two comic stores right around the corner from each other. No, really. The managers could hit each other with frisbees (and some Wednesdays, they do).
And so last night at our weekly Heroclix game at my house--after Mingus the Merciless and his perennial partner "Turtle Boy" had destroyed the competition--the table talk turned to what makes you go to one comic store rather than another.
Comic book stores, unlike a clothing stores, don't really vary their product offerings much. We don't go to a particular store because of which comics it offers but because of how it offers them, how it packages the whole comic book experience.
What makes the difference for you? What's your ideal comic book store experience? If a comic book store opened around the corner from the one you now frequent, what would get you to switch?
I like stores that are clean, with a good selection of backstock (both in trade paperbacks and in back issues) and well displayed, accessible recent issues.
I also prefer stores that leave their recent issues at cover price for a few months on display instead of wrapping them up immediately in mylar, raising the price by fifty cents and sticking them in the back issue boxes.
Oh, and comic store owners who don't scoff at my choices of books or suggest that what I'm reading is "boring" or "stupid" is always nice too.
Here in NYC, we have a lot of stores to choose from, but I go to Midtown for a few reasons.
1) Selection: Very indie-friendly, and the only mainstream comic they've sold out of ridiculously quickly was Black Panther #1.
2) Atmosphere: Clean and well-lit with room to browse; friendly and helpful staff that leaves you alone unless approached.
3) Value: $20 credit for every $100 spent is the best deal in the City and, combined with the first two points, keeps me loyal.
Ummmm...it's closest. That's about it for the most part.
I echo jer and guy's comments.
Also, number of back issues. Variety of titles and number of issues. I like to browse.
Back issues not a looming issue for me.
And maybe this is just my indie bias showing, but I'm also a fan of stores that focus on comic books and trades, and that keep them shelved logically and neatly.
I know stores make more money on statues, figures, t-shirts and such, but walking into a store bursting with various bits of brightly colored plastic has always left me cold.
I also frequent Midtown Comics (albeit now online) and I agree with all points about it. But, if I was still working downtown, I would go to Forbidden Planet. Almost always in stock, VERY indie-friendly, and the staff actually will recommend comics to you, which is what I'm most looking for. I can pick out any old DC or Marvel comic by myself; I would like for someone to turn me on to something I've never heard of before (is how I got turned onto Blue Monday & most Oni stuff, which is sheer genius)
A clean, well-lit, well-organized store with a wide selection is both great and necessary, but the most important part of the equation is the staff. They need to be friendly, helpful, and willing to offer suggestions. They should never belittle your purchases, even if it's something they really hate, and they should never, EVER leave customers waiting at the register forever so they can continue playing Magic or Heroclix or whatever.
Clean, well-displayed selection, good selection of back-issues you may actually want to buy, and professional staff that encourages browsing.
It's also nice to have enough room to walk around and lose yourself. I've been in some stores where it's basically a 20 x 20 room, with me the customer and some weenie behind a giant counter reading his comics or watching an 80's sci-fi flick. Very uncomfortable.
Worst story: went to a store on the east side of downtown Denver. As soon as I walked in, the guy behind the counter say "pfft! Can you leave?! I have to go to the post office!". Sure, I left..and haven't been back since.
2 Friendliness (or at least restraint in aggressivity; I've met many retailers who were worse than that character played by Jack Black in High Fidelity.)
5 Music (if only I could find comic retailers who did not listen only to hard rock or anime theme musics).
Aside from the fact that the good one is a whole lot nearer than the bad one, my current choice can be summed up in their response when I asked for a copy of Courtney Crumrin vol. 1
Shop a) (after the first person just gave me a blank look and eventually passed me over to someone else who knew about that stuff) "uh, yeah, we usually have that in. We haven't got it in now. We'll probably get it in again sometime."
shop b) "We don't have a copy right now but just hang on while I phone around our other branches and see if they have a copy, and if not I'll add it to the order I'm doing from Diamond, so if it's physically possible to get a copy we'll have one for you by Friday."
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