Reading James's post about comic stores makes me thankful that I shop at a very good store (which is another very heavy pusher of trade paperbacks; Big Planet Comics in Vienna, VA), but also hammers home what I think so many stores suffer from: they're not run by businesspeople, they're run by fans.
It's why so many stores look like a pigsty; to the owner, the comic store is an extension of their basement. It's all good and dandy to have a friendly, laid back atmosphere, but it's something else to have an atmosphere that repells people.
Likewise, the ordering of books. It never ceases to amaze me how many times I would go into other stores--that at the time I had a subscription with!--and ask about specific books. "Oh, we aren't going to order that," they'd reply. Nevermind that I was saying that I wanted that book. I was going to buy it. Nope, they weren't ordering it. Which part of "guaranteed sale" wasn't sinking in?
The best thing I ever heard (and I wish I could remember who said it) was in response to one store owner saying that he wouldn't order any more GREEN LANTERN comics because they killed off Hal Jordan and he didn't like GL. "Somehow," the person replied (and then I paraphrased), "I can't see a grocery store owner deciding that he didn't like milk and then not ordering it. If your customers want milk... order milk."
I've heard enough good things about Ralph's store out in Vegas to know that if he decided to open a book store that carried comic collections, it would do well. I can think of some other retailers/stores (Jim Hanley/Jim Hanley's Universe, Greg Bennett/Big Planet Comics) that would do well.
But most owners out there just don't have the business mindset. This isn't a hobby, guys. It's a store. Run it like one.
Greg McElhatton: http://www.gregmce.com The EXPO/SPX 2000
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