The Problem with Comic Book Stores

Clutter in a Comic Book Store

The common denominator of all comic book stores is shelves upon shelves of current issues and boxes upon boxes of back issues. This might sound great at first -- so much cool inventory! But the reality is that there is just too much. Let’s say for example that a seasoned comic collector wants to find an issue of X-Men from the 80s. They aren’t sure of the number, but they would recognize the cover if they see it. What do they have to do? Heft a short box off of a shelf in the back, pull out ten issues because the box is crammed full, and carefully flip through the issues until they find the one they are looking for. Imagine how daunting this task is for a new collector or someone who isn’t a collector at all. It must feel like the ending scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Good luck finding the first appearance of Squirrel Girl even if you know it’s in Marvel Super Heroes Winter Special volume 2, number 8. 

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So Many Pretty Colors...

Another issue with most collectible stores is over-stimulation. If a casual shopper enters a comic book store looking to be inspired to purchase something for their favorite comic book geek, often the shelves, walls, and racks are so overcrowded that it all becomes white noise. The shopper may know that their friend loves Marvel superheroes but they have no idea whether to get an action figure or a statue or a graphic novel. The mere volume of inventory right in front of their face is intimidating to look through. Almost like shoving an entire comic con in their face!

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“What is your quest?” not “You Shall Not Pass!”

Both clutter and over-stimulation are unwelcoming to anyone walking into a store for the first time. However, the biggest issue is the specificity of prior knowledge needed to shop in a comic store. It’s a world into which many have rarely ventured. Even the friendliest of comic proprietors has an uphill battle when it comes to new clientele because the average shopper has an insecurity in their knowledge of the products. On top of that there is the reputation that employees and owners tend to have a “gateway” attitude towards their customers, so it’s no wonder why non-collectors feel intimidated upon entering. 

Comics and collectible stores should run their business like adult novelty stores to get away from the problem with comic book stores. Greet each customer knowing that they might feel unprepared and intimidated as soon as the door announces their entrance. This doesn’t mean that they don’t want something. They just might not know what they want or they might know exactly what they want but they’re embarrassed to ask where they can find it. Comic stores need to hand out free freak flags to everyone who enters so they can proudly wave them about. 

All Geeks Welcome!

Everyone is a geek about something. Let’s celebrate all of them from music to theatre to film to art to board games to anime to comics! It’s a delicate balance between widening your audience and overwhelming them with too much product. Here at Geekeasy we want to find that balance. We want all geeks to feel included without being overwhelmed. Let us know what you geek out about in the comments so we can fly your flag!

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