Tales from the Comic Box - Rookie Adventures in Buying/Selling/Cons
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On 3/11/2017 at 3:02 PM, Wall-Crawler said:

One idea that I have been "toying" with is the idea of getting a small/home business licence.  If things proceed according to plan, I will do 4 local shows this year + the online selling. I'm wondering if it is "time" to make that leap but I am not sure if is "worth it".

Any sellers have any experience with it or thoughts in general? Particularly from Ontario?

Thanks!

is that a requirement in your location?

 

For taxes - I file using schedule C - Sole Proprietorship

 

You are not required to have a home business license for comics in my area ( I checked) - as long as I am not using the home as a store front.

 

State wise - you might need to file for a separate tax id ( or for state sales tax).

 

Illinios - I did this as part of receiving a resellers form (so I can eliminate sales tax on purchases).  Of course - means i file state taxes for Illinois sales.

 

Beyond this - I just registered a DBA ( doing business as) - for the name

Edited by W16227

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Thanks for input into the whole home business. Something I still have to look into.

So, my small local show is coming up again and as I mentioned before I was thinking of "changing up" how I set up...I am limited with what I can do though.

First pic is how it "normally looks"- Basic long boxes in the front (sometimes with some "display" items) and "wall books" in the back.

Second pics And this is the " layout" I was thinking with the space I will have to work with (might lose my wall book display for this show, gets eyes no buys). Also found out space is tight, won't be able to have a smaller table, so no "cash" table.

Both have their "pros and cons"...My biggest concern with the "booth concept" is theft, no place for secure cash or for people to place their handfuls of books and such.

Opinions welcome.

left (10).jpg

Booth Set Up Option A.jpg

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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Using the corners for display space is tough - people are crawling over the boxes or rear table display. Racks might work there - you can get wire displays that fit tabletops and turn them at an angle in those corners. Otherwise - that area is good for general storage ( bags, your lunch, soda, stacks of books for people).

 

For the back table - tabletop racks might also be decent for helping display more. My side tables - I have the 2 tiered ones ( 2 rows of books) - for runs/sets/trades. The size of these lets me lay books flat in front of the racks as well. You are able to use ~ 50% of the table flat in front - so you could have several rows of better books (or just a display of the clearance ones) and tabletop items in the same space.

 

If you need a quick flat surface - just put a top on one of the longboxes for a minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 hours ago, Wall-Crawler said:

Thanks for input into the whole home business. Something I still have to look into.

So, my small local show is coming up again and as I mentioned before I was thinking of "changing up" how I set up...I am limited with what I can do though.

First pic is how it "normally looks"- Basic long boxes in the front (sometimes with some "display" items) and "wall books" in the back.

Second pics And this is the " layout" I was thinking with the space I will have to work with (might lose my wall book display for this show, gets eyes no buys). Also found out space is tight, won't be able to have a smaller table, so no "cash" table.

Both have their "pros and cons"...My biggest concern with the "booth concept" is theft, no place for secure cash or for people to place their handfuls of books and such.

Opinions welcome.

left (10).jpg

Booth Set Up Option A.jpg

I like it.  Makes people want to stop and enter your "shop" instead of walking past giving your stuff a quick glance.  I'm very interested to see how you display the back 6' table.  Too bad you do not have two spinner racks to place in the corner spaces.  Load them up with $1 books so who cares if you have some theft from them.

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3 hours ago, W16227 said:

Using the corners for display space is tough - people are crawling over the boxes or rear table display. Racks might work there - you can get wire displays that fit tabletops and turn them at an angle in those corners. Otherwise - that area is good for general storage ( bags, your lunch, soda, stacks of books for people).

 

For the back table - tabletop racks might also be decent for helping display more. My side tables - I have the 2 tiered ones ( 2 rows of books) - for runs/sets/trades. The size of these lets me lay books flat in front of the racks as well. You are able to use ~ 50% of the table flat in front - so you could have several rows of better books (or just a display of the clearance ones) and tabletop items in the same space.

 

If you need a quick flat surface - just put a top on one of the longboxes for a minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like the idea of making use of the "corner" space by placing supplies or where I can place people's stack of books. Good call. I might put some other signage.

When I had the extra table, I have used a "tiered" approach...I basically just used the lids of the comic boxes w/o having to buy another display supplies.

...Now my main concern is cash as I always used a cash box...And my wife would write out receipts so I knew exactly what sold at the end of the day...Having no space to write might be cumbersome.  Thoughts on that?

I might try to track down a couple of those "apron style" things that restaurant servers use...Hmmm...My brother manages a restaurant...

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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45 minutes ago, 1Cool said:

I like it.  Makes people want to stop and enter your "shop" instead of walking past giving your stuff a quick glance.  I'm very interested to see how you display the back 6' table.  Too bad you do not have two spinner racks to place in the corner spaces.  Load them up with $1 books so who cares if you have some theft from them.

Thanks!

I don't have two spinner racks...My thing is I don't want to buy too many supplies that I may or may not use.

For the one aisle, I plan on having $2 boxes (or 3 for $5) and completed sets/trades.  On the opposite aisle, I was going to have your traditional run of books (Batman, Spider-Man, etc).  The middle I already have an idea...Mix of comics/sets, digests, magazines, some toys and odds and sods.

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1 hour ago, Wall-Crawler said:

I like the idea of making use of the "corner" space by placing supplies or where I can place people's stack of books. Good call. I might put some other signage.

When I had the extra table, I have used a "tiered" approach...I basically just used the lids of the comic boxes w/o having to buy another display supplies.

...Now my main concern is cash as I always used a cash box...And my wife would write out receipts so I knew exactly what sold at the end of the day...Having no space to write might be cumbersome.  Thoughts on that?

I might try to track down a couple of those "apron style" things that restaurant servers use...Hmmm...My brother manages a restaurant...

I wear a cash belt and it works great but looks very very dorky.  It is nice when you have a couple people helping in that you can pass off the cash belt to signify who is watching the booth while the other person goes gets a break or food.

I actually like taking a quick cell phone picture of books that sell rather then trying to keep a written record at the time.  You can lay out the $2 books quickly on the top of the long boxes in groups of 5-6 if a stack gets sold at once.  I put the price of non $1 books on the front so I just have to make sure I can see the prices in the picture for my book keeping.  A lot quicker then writing everything down while people wait.

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Cash box - this is kind of a tricky one  - or at least for what I see you using it for.....

Now - I do only one show a year at the moment- but I go big ( 20 x 20 last year).  I typically have myself and 2 others manning the booth - but there is not a lot of spare time for tracking individual sales.

 

I do not keep track of general individual books sold unless it is a high $ slab.

High $$$ ( for me is $100+ books)  I do note somewhere so I can pull them off of inventory and record the % profot ( and  I am the one who takes care of the bigger books) ...

The rest - I use my receipts at the end of the day to figure out the general revenue.

Bulk items - my pricing structure is somewhat standard ( ebay or show) - so for the tax man, I average out everything at the end of the year for the bulk sales. I can usually match out at least 50% of my ebay sales ( and the live big books) - so I can calculate a gross profit % for use across all of the funny book revenue.

Now - the bulk of my sales are online - so this method works for me. If you are doing most of the sales through shows - then easy access to that recordkeeping might not be there.

I would recommend treating easily accountable books as bulk - having similar margins so accounting at the end of the show is based more on the $$$ you took in.  For the bigger ones or items you want to separately track , use the voice memo on a phone ( or get a stand alone voice recorder- they are pretty cheap) to make a quick sales note for your records. This is fast - and you can do it without a table or much interruption.

edit - and like Andy - I use the good old 90s fanny pack as a cash belt. 

and looks dorky - lol - but when I am selling comic books to an adult wearing a minions costume, I would think I am not judged too harshly .....

Edited by W16227

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Thanks for the feedback guys!

I liked to even keep track of the little books to see what ones were moving, slowing down, etc.  My spouse does all the accounting/cash + receipts, leaving me free to interact with customers and make recommendations, haggle, etc.

I will likely try a "test" table here at home, just to see a few days before the show. Still not sure exactly what I will decide but leaning towards trying something at least a little different. I have some "other" collectibles and not necessarily 'pure' comic stuff (I have some not a lot though), just to add a bit of variety as this show is kind of a "hodge podge" of collectors and nice to get some sales from "random folks" as most now are regulars who come to the show just to see what I have.

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So - wall crawler asked about my setup - so I will show what I do.

 

For all - keep in mind that I do NOT set up at many shows. I have my main local show ( Count i Con ), that is a reasonable cost and a decent size local show. My goal is to at least look like I know what I am doing.

Last year - the show had a special Friday event - where some of the vendors could open early. I was not on the list at first - but it pays to be in touch with the promoters. About three weeks before the show - they green-lighted me and I was in early.  About two weeks before the show - I get the follow up - " do you think you can fill a 20 x 20?". lol -  but I was somewhat prepared as I had a similar thing happen last year ( they doubled my booth form 10 x 10 to 10 x 20 then).

 

So - I plan in powerpoint - I can set up the tables and such -- lay out everything with a plan - then get blindsided again as there is a power pole right in the middle of my booth.  What you see is the booth with some re-arranging at the last minute  ( I changed the layout in PPT to kind of match what happened). So - on to the pics. The layout of the con - we were in an area where it was easy to spread out a little ( island booth) - so it was easy to fit everything anyway.

 

2017-03-18_14-15-26.thumb.jpg.c8750a42df6bcee19175865aedff4978.jpg

 

So - up front was Chuck Fiala - a local artist that I know.  He is always a blast to hang with.  It is great to have him - not only as an added reason for people to see the booth, but laying out to make the space seem fuller is easier.

This is set as an inside layout - I have pipe/curtain in the back.

 

Left side - is all trades and sets/runs. There is enough room for a row of books laid flat in front as well.  Center island = back issues ( $3 to $20). Right side - about 6 rows of $2 books and the rest dollar books.  The back racks are "wall books" and the table in front had random stuff and treasuries. The yellow block - is a lockable display case for some high end slabs I brought.  Not the best overall for displaying slabs - but they were there more for show than sale.

 

 

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the beginning, lol - all the junk you see is me......

 

IMG_3961.thumb.JPG.5e3c7cdefb057ed7e4c6a8b29ae392e2.JPG

 

The view from the "front" - with the drape set.  Great news kids - if there is a fire - we can save the books!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Edited by W16227

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So other notes - I use cheap wire racks from displays2go. You see a low of boxes in the images - I use the boxes they came in for storing them. There may be a more efficient way - but they seem  pretty easy to move and store this way.

 

IMG_3964.thumb.JPG.072301e998b97a7df5813cd91d26a3a7.JPG

 

The low cost zone forming - they did make me move the right row closer in ( much closer to the edge of the drapes) - but still ended up being plenty of room.

The back right - is the locked display for slabs.

 

IMG_3968.thumb.JPG.0403ff99cffcdc7fa48e6d34fed8faa6.JPG

and the TPB/set area takes shape. The racks - can fit 4 rows of comics and a flat row in front. Had many boxes of backups to reload.

 

IMG_3971.thumb.JPG.0cf481e3dcd70fa7a726fae07c60ae57.JPG

and no booth is complete without a dealer coming in early to snoop. Things filling out more.

IMG_3976.thumb.JPG.7c0348e38631c1d2930a642b0cb135dd.JPG

 

A good view down the racks.

 

 

 

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IMG_3982.thumb.JPG.27afe95e125c4762236c167cc7bef65c.JPG

 

the dollar zone ( the last 6 rows are $2)

IMG_3984.thumb.JPG.a584fbe3af6608fb646909bebb528c3f.JPGIMG_3985.thumb.JPG.7cb3e1ebcd75c932c6570635b28a849b.JPG

 

The wall zone -- $20 and up books. Some cheaper ( like the X22 at that time) -

 

IMG_3991.thumb.JPG.1083d6813f2da825f20e537d2ab130a7.JPG

final pic - the obligatory cosplayer stopping by

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, thehumantorch said:

I'm curious, how do $2 books sell?  Been debating building a $2 section.

:insane:


Well - this is kind of when my accounting methods fail..... I did a lot of 1 and 2 business - but don't know the split. This was the first time I had $2 boxes. I used to just mix them in the back issues. 

 

Edited by W16227

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Wow - Thanks for sharing! I'm getting some more ideas, which is always good!

The area I have to work with is nowhere near that size but not sure I could fill it either! lol

I like the display racks at the back, good use of space there!

I have did my first $2 boxes (or 3 for $5) at the last local con I did and they did ok. For those books, they were my "odds" that don't belong with a particular or significant run or were cheap to begin with.  

I plan on having one table be half $2 boxes and half completed sets.  The other table would be runs...The third table is the table in question, depending which way I decide to go...

 

 

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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lol - well - the size increases each year - were offered at a great price, so I jumped and had to price out a lot of stuff quickly.

Actually - your comments reminded me about the $2 bins - I did not have a plan to make separate bins. I know that some people have them  - but was not part of the setup plan for the year.

BUT - the timing of it all - I pulled all I had already priced and set up boxes for all new ones.  This was quick and easy - and I did not separate/put them in any order.  This year - as I have lots already priced - I can seperate and alphabatize/put in numbered order.  I know that this ( the scrambled dollar and $2 boxes) - hurt some sales, but not as much as having significantly less product out there.

 

 

 

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Some positive news...I was notified via email today I have been "accepted' as a vendor for Sudbury Graphic Con.  The show is one day, on a Saturday, 10 AM to 8 PM.

The only downside is that I had applied for a "Premium Vendor Booth" (basically two 8 foot tables) - And due to "organizational reasons", I am only getting a 'Vendor Booth' - As in a single 8 foot table.  They said this was a possibility in the application process, that Premium Booths were issued at the Con's discretion. I don't know how many they had available to begin with.

I replied (very politely) asking if there was any way I could get another table as I just have some concerns about being able to offer a variety of product as there will be some travel costs (possibly hotel for overnight). I have never done a show with only one table, mind you, this will be (by far, hopefully) a much, much larger crowd.

I also inquired how much room I would have behind me for a display board and if I could bring my own smaller (4 ft) table if I was at the "end" of a row.

I was polite, I just hope they don't take me as a "needy" vendor, just I could stack three 8 foot tables and I am not accustomed to taking so little product, even to the small local shows I have been doing.

Regardless, I am pretty sure I will do the show if all I get is the single 8 foot table, I will just have to get creative and  it could be a "foot in the door" and maybe reach some new customers.

UPDATE:  I was advised that there were no extra tables and that the size of the space would be 10 x 10 with the 8 foot skirted table and that I could bring any other display/furniture to display my wares so long as it fit within the space and didn't violate fire code. For the reasons stated above, I formally accepted. What the heck.  Time to maybe see how creative I can get with a 10 x 10 space?

Edited by Wall-Crawler
Update

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Updated "show' schedule...

  • Northeastern Ontario Antique Collectibles and Nostalgia Spring Show - April 9th, 2017 (confirmed - This is the one that "got me started")
  • Graphic Con - June 10th, 2017 (confirmed)
  • Northern Game Expo - October 15th, 2017 (confirmed)
  • Northeastern Ontario Antique Collectibles and Nostalgia Spring Show - October 22nd (confirmed)
  • Gateway FanEx - November 12th, 2017 (exact date pending, but confirmed)
Edited by Wall-Crawler
Update

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So this weekend marks the beginning of my humble 2017 Comic Show Tour.

First up is the local show...Now I know I had thought of switching the layout up but due to a couple of factors, I am going with the standard set up with some shelving in the back. 

I just have a few "last minute" things to do but the usual struggle prevails...What to bring, what to bring...The following are the long boxes I have to choose from - I can fit 20 long boxes up front but I do NOT want to put any books on the floor.

  • Archie
  • Avengers
  • Batman x 2 (Batman and Detective)
  • Captain America/Doc Strange
  • Daredevil
  • DC Assorted ( x 2 - Justice League, Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing)
  • FF
  • Gold Key (I have one customer who has asked like the past two shows so maybe this is the year to bring some of this stuff)
  • Iron Man/Invaders
  • Powerman/Iron Fist
  • Horror Genre (mostly DC based, stuff like Ghosts)
  • Hulk
  • Spider-Man (x2 - Amazing and Spectacular)
  • Spider-Woman, Silver Surfer and Thor
  • Superman
  • X-Men
  • Zenescope/Grimm Fairy Tales 
  • Completed Sets/story arcs, TPBs (x 6)
  • $2 or 3 for $5 box (x4) - I really need to do more sorting to make more of these boxes
    • I am sure I am forgetting something but these are the "main ones" I currently have to work with...I can only bring 20 for tops of table and maybe bring a few others to keep behind table...Not sure yet what ones will make final cut...

In addition, I will have a CGC short box and more expensive books on display as well as some magazines, toys, treasuries, etc.

ALSO, I made the jump and got set up with a SQUARE reader.

Edited by Wall-Crawler

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I follow your journal with a lot of interest.  It's fascinating to read about life on your side of the table.  Can you tell us what the set up and break down is like?  For example, how do you get all your stuff to the con?  From the con to your space?  How long it takes to set up, and then break down?  If it's a multiday con, how does the con staff make sure everyone's stuff is secure (I understand you might not want to answer this last question for security purposes).

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