I'm opening up a brick and mortar this year and want some advice!!
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On 10/29/2017 at 2:50 AM, shadroch said:

Throwing percentages around makes little to no sense.  No dealer will pay 50 cents for a book he might sell for a dollar, but the same dealer will pay $800 for a book he can quickly flip for $1200. I have no problem offering 5-10% of value for really common stuff, but will pay 70-85% for prime stuff.  I recently paid $5200 for a book I sold a week later for $5900. Thought I'd get a bit more, but the whole thing was a quick flip.

Yah, that's a good point - the actual $ value is clearly a big factor. In my experience, for keys (that are reasonably easy re-sales), in the $200 - $1000 range, I've found 75% reasonable (ie. dealer can make between $50 - $250 on that book, assuming it sells reasonably quickly for FMV). All things being equal, it makes sense that as $ value goes up, % of FMV paid can go up (as dealer can still make a good $ amount, and be willing to pay more %-wise - ie. a high-grade ASM129 as G.A.tor's example). And as $ value goes down, % of FMV paid goes down (dealers won't go through all the hassle just to make a few bucks, nominal amount of $ has to be worth the time).

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2 minutes ago, Pirate said:

Yea but you are a 5% profit guy.  Most business models want to make money.:baiting:

I prefer 10% net :)

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On 10/23/2017 at 12:09 PM, Genesis Comics said:

Just trying to build up anticipation with the delays lmfao...

 

So much has happened that I'm sure I've forgotten a lot, but overall it's been a positive experience!  I'm glad I did it, now I'm just fine tuning it and putting more and more systems in place in order to make it run more profitably and smoothly.  Thanks for all the support and for all the interest!  

Any questions, fire away!!

 

 

 

 

 

Love reading your updates.  I hope the holiday season is good for you and the store!

Edited by Lucky Baru

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So glad you were able to get it up off the ground and running! Been following this thread since the start, and rooting you on (silently, from my lurking spot in the corner...). It's sadly a little too far for me to visit from Queens (I almost never go out to LI, and only for specific reasons when I do), but I'll be sure to stop by if I ever see a booth of yours at a local con (or if I do somehow manage to get out that way and visit the store).

Hope the rest of this year is a good one for you!

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I haven't posted on this forum in ages, but I just came across your thread and....OH MAN!

I am very happy to hear that the initial start up was mostly positive.  I saw all of the friendly advice that urged you not to do it and laughed! That would have been my advice.  Even the best stores are a haul - and that's with sufficient hired help.  I have never owned, worked-in or in any way invested in a retail establishment. However, I do spend MUCH of my income in other people's stores.

I just wanted to mention how I shop, so that you have a little more input in the mind of another customer:

My girlfriend and I embark regularly on road-trips around the country (mostly in our region - Southeastern US) and we hit every comic shop in the radius.  She shops exclusively for Funko pops! and I am in the market for 90% comics and 10% anything collectible (e.g. toys, art, mags, books, etc.). We use all tools at our disposal to locate retailers. So, making certain that your presence on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Comic Shop Locator, Funko Store Locator and all local resources is essential.  We recently drove down to Florida and I put the name of one of our destinations in Craigslist - a comic shop that failed to come up in any of our other searches showed pictures of its interior and inventory. You can bet that we went 150 miles out of our way to check out a hole-in-the-wall in Alabama, that had exactly what we were looking for and we spent a ton of cash there, too.

 

Let me pause to mention that you should be aware of your competition at all times. We frequent Toys r Us, FYE, Hot Topic, BAM, Barnes and Noble, McKays, 2nd & Charles, Go! Calendars and more, as often as comic shops.  Your location may or may not leave you vulnerable to their massive inventories and savvy pricing, but stay aware of what they are up to.  For example, you said you sell pop! vinyls - most of the locations that I mentioned have exclusive pop! figures. No matter what you order, the only way that you can get your hands on them is by either buying them in person, ordering from their websites or buying them from collectors.  We see all of this happening in a big collectible swirl from state-to-state.  If you give collectors more reasons to come to you, instead of those other stores - your traffic (quality and quantity) will change.

 

That being said - be sure that you are FINDABLE!!! God! We go to so many shops that make us work to find them. Poor directions, impossible-to-figure-out-hours, insufficient signage, inadequate parking and out-of-date phone numbers are a few of the issues that we have to deal with, when we are 500 miles from home, tired, hungry and burned out by poor customer service.  The easiest way to prevent most of this...post all pertinent information on Facebook. If something changes - update immediately!  Post plenty of recent pictures of the interior, exterior, stock, staff, events, etc.  The more you post, the more viable you look.  We constantly look up stores that don't have a working phone and their last FB post was from 3 years ago in 2015.  Then, when they are 50 miles away - we have to do the detective work and make the judgement call whether they are worth the stop.

 

Next, promote your store like an SOB! We love to see what is on the shelves of the store. One of the best indicators whether we should stop in is a picture of new stock that you just bought from a collection. If she sees a pile of new pops on the counter that were purchased in the last few months - you can bet that we are making a beeline to your door to hand over as much money as we can give you. *We have called stores that refused to give a clear answer about what they sell, how many back issues they had or what their prices were like*  There is nothing better than a FB pic of a store flyer announcing the current Black Friday/Xmas/New Years/Arbor Day/whatever sale that is going on with all current discounts.

 

Our BIGGEST pet peeve, when shopping are those stores (Lord, there are so many!) that do not price their merchandise.  Then when I walk in and inquire about prices, they say "bring it up and I'll let you know." The usual next step is - they look up each book, one-by-one online and come back with market prices for everything that I just spent half-an-hour pulling.  Those are the worst stores and the ones that let me know that our return business is not needed or appreciated.  On that note and understanding that margins are tight - the store clerks or owners that see that I am about to buy $150 in comics or that my GF is willing to plunk down $500 for pops, but don't automatically offer a discount of some kind are not going to see us again. Sure, it seems entitled, but I like to feel that you want me to spend at your store. Usually, when offered a percentage off of marked prices - we continue to shop and will add significant quantities of merchandise to our respective stacks.  Remember, while it may not be true for many of your clientele, we are coming from far away, with gas, food and hotel costs to spend our money in your shop.  We frequently walk into stores, where we get surly service and I could literally blow dust off of the back issue stock, but the person at the register gets offended that I would ask about a reduced rate if I pull a large quantity of books.

 

Referencing the people who came into your store to sell a collection and expected unrealistic sums - I have been in a few shops when similar transactions were happening. One of the best practices, that I have seen is: 1) seller walks in and asks if you buy comics or cards or whatever 2) retailer automatically answers with a set response. Usually it sounds something like, "Yes, we pay 5 cents for books that we are going to sell for a dollar and we'll offer 25% of what we will charge for books over a dollar." That is what my LCS does - of course they are a used book store, that just happens to sell comics as well. 

 

Lastly, I have to say that you are making the right move by adding gaming. Nationwide, that is the trend and it is profitable for most businesses.  However, stay alert to the market and be prepared to change with the winds.  Gaming and pops WERE NOT the norm 4 years ago when we started our little shopping trips, but they are a major economic driver in the Sci-Fi, comic, fantasy and related markets now. That could change and only the stores that are ready to pivot will survive to tell the tale.  We saw that with the early direct comic market in the 80s, with the collectible card craze of the 90s and the first decade of this century was a healing time for those stores that could not adapt.  A new cycle has begun and any store that is open now is guaranteed to see quite a few swings in interests and shoppers.  Be sure to entice female shoppers by catering to their demands. Bring young readers and gamers through your doors with age-appropriate material and events.  Don't forget that in the summer and during winter and spring breaks, college-aged customers will be returning home and may not know that you exist. How will you ensure that they try you out?  FCBD and event movies are not always maximized by some shops - try not to make that mistake. 

 

We always walk out of a store with mental notes of our experience. We then compare impressions during our long ride to the next town.  Make sure that you read online reviews of your store and take them to heart. Everything that I just wrote is based on dozens of visits to stores in large and small towns, where the stock can change, but our expectations and hope for a good shopping experience never does. Good luck!

 

P.S. I checked out your Facebook page after writing this and it looks like you're doing most of what I mentioned. Now...let's pass this on to all of those other shop owners around the country, who don't have it quite figured out!

 

Edited by camera73
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Don't listen to the naysayers. Thats the best advice I can give. Had I listened to the naysayers, which included both my family and friends, I would be stuck in a cubical right now with an environmental engineering degree as opposed to a professional architectural photographer with both my B.F.A. & M.F.A. that only has to work 5 1/12 months out of the year. And I am making significantly more money now than I ever would have in engineering. I am betting most of the people that just come right out and say "don't do it" never took that chance themselves thus are not doing what they love for a living. 

Best of luck with your comic shop. If it fails, at least you will have the satisfaction that you tried and that's something that nobody can take away from you. Personally, I believe if your passionate enough about something and work hard enough, anything is possible. I dropped out of environmental engineering entering my senior year and then spent an additional 6 years in college to get my B.F.A. and M.F.A. in fine art (focus in photography). I have been running my own architectural photography business for the last 15 years and while it was brutal the first 3-4 years, things worked out better than I could have possibly imagined. 

Edited by OrangeCrush

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On 1/7/2018 at 3:33 AM, camera73 said:

I haven't posted on this forum in ages, but I just came across your thread and....OH MAN!

I am very happy to hear that the initial start up was mostly positive.  I saw all of the friendly advice that urged you not to do it and laughed! That would have been my advice.  Even the best stores are a haul - and that's with sufficient hired help.  I have never owned, worked-in or in any way invested in a retail establishment. However, I do spend MUCH of my income in other people's stores.

I just wanted to mention how I shop, so that you have a little more input in the mind of another customer:

My girlfriend and I embark regularly on road-trips around the country (mostly in our region - Southeastern US) and we hit every comic shop in the radius.  She shops exclusively for Funko pops! and I am in the market for 90% comics and 10% anything collectible (e.g. toys, art, mags, books, etc.). We use all tools at our disposal to locate retailers. So, making certain that your presence on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Comic Shop Locator, Funko Store Locator and all local resources is essential.  We recently drove down to Florida and I put the name of one of our destinations in Craigslist - a comic shop that failed to come up in any of our other searches showed pictures of its interior and inventory. You can bet that we went 150 miles out of our way to check out a hole-in-the-wall in Alabama, that had exactly what we were looking for and we spent a ton of cash there, too.

 

Let me pause to mention that you should be aware of your competition at all times. We frequent Toys r Us, FYE, Hot Topic, BAM, Barnes and Noble, McKays, 2nd & Charles, Go! Calendars and more, as often as comic shops.  Your location may or may not leave you vulnerable to their massive inventories and savvy pricing, but stay aware of what they are up to.  For example, you said you sell pop! vinyls - most of the locations that I mentioned have exclusive pop! figures. No matter what you order, the only way that you can get your hands on them is by either buying them in person, ordering from their websites or buying them from collectors.  We see all of this happening in a big collectible swirl from state-to-state.  If you give collectors more reasons to come to you, instead of those other stores - your traffic (quality and quantity) will change.

 

That being said - be sure that you are FINDABLE!!! God! We go to so many shops that make us work to find them. Poor directions, impossible-to-figure-out-hours, insufficient signage, inadequate parking and out-of-date phone numbers are a few of the issues that we have to deal with, when we are 500 miles from home, tired, hungry and burned out by poor customer service.  The easiest way to prevent most of this...post all pertinent information on Facebook. If something changes - update immediately!  Post plenty of recent pictures of the interior, exterior, stock, staff, events, etc.  The more you post, the more viable you look.  We constantly look up stores that don't have a working phone and their last FB post was from 3 years ago in 2015.  Then, when they are 50 miles away - we have to do the detective work and make the judgement call whether they are worth the stop.

 

Next, promote your store like an SOB! We love to see what is on the shelves of the store. One of the best indicators whether we should stop in is a picture of new stock that you just bought from a collection. If she sees a pile of new pops on the counter that were purchased in the last few months - you can bet that we are making a beeline to your door to hand over as much money as we can give you. *We have called stores that refused to give a clear answer about what they sell, how many back issues they had or what their prices were like*  There is nothing better than a FB pic of a store flyer announcing the current Black Friday/Xmas/New Years/Arbor Day/whatever sale that is going on with all current discounts.

 

Our BIGGEST pet peeve, when shopping are those stores (Lord, there are so many!) that do not price their merchandise.  Then when I walk in and inquire about prices, they say "bring it up and I'll let you know." The usual next step is - they look up each book, one-by-one online and come back with market prices for everything that I just spent half-an-hour pulling.  Those are the worst stores and the ones that let me know that our return business is not needed or appreciated.  On that note and understanding that margins are tight - the store clerks or owners that see that I am about to buy $150 in comics or that my GF is willing to plunk down $500 for pops, but don't automatically offer a discount of some kind are not going to see us again. Sure, it seems entitled, but I like to feel that you want me to spend at your store. Usually, when offered a percentage off of marked prices - we continue to shop and will add significant quantities of merchandise to our respective stacks.  Remember, while it may not be true for many of your clientele, we are coming from far away, with gas, food and hotel costs to spend our money in your shop.  We frequently walk into stores, where we get surly service and I could literally blow dust off of the back issue stock, but the person at the register gets offended that I would ask about a reduced rate if I pull a large quantity of books.

 

Referencing the people who came into your store to sell a collection and expected unrealistic sums - I have been in a few shops when similar transactions were happening. One of the best practices, that I have seen is: 1) seller walks in and asks if you buy comics or cards or whatever 2) retailer automatically answers with a set response. Usually it sounds something like, "Yes, we pay 5 cents for books that we are going to sell for a dollar and we'll offer 25% of what we will charge for books over a dollar." That is what my LCS does - of course they are a used book store, that just happens to sell comics as well. 

 

Lastly, I have to say that you are making the right move by adding gaming. Nationwide, that is the trend and it is profitable for most businesses.  However, stay alert to the market and be prepared to change with the winds.  Gaming and pops WERE NOT the norm 4 years ago when we started our little shopping trips, but they are a major economic driver in the Sci-Fi, comic, fantasy and related markets now. That could change and only the stores that are ready to pivot will survive to tell the tale.  We saw that with the early direct comic market in the 80s, with the collectible card craze of the 90s and the first decade of this century was a healing time for those stores that could not adapt.  A new cycle has begun and any store that is open now is guaranteed to see quite a few swings in interests and shoppers.  Be sure to entice female shoppers by catering to their demands. Bring young readers and gamers through your doors with age-appropriate material and events.  Don't forget that in the summer and during winter and spring breaks, college-aged customers will be returning home and may not know that you exist. How will you ensure that they try you out?  FCBD and event movies are not always maximized by some shops - try not to make that mistake. 

 

We always walk out of a store with mental notes of our experience. We then compare impressions during our long ride to the next town.  Make sure that you read online reviews of your store and take them to heart. Everything that I just wrote is based on dozens of visits to stores in large and small towns, where the stock can change, but our expectations and hope for a good shopping experience never does. Good luck!

 

P.S. I checked out your Facebook page after writing this and it looks like you're doing most of what I mentioned. Now...let's pass this on to all of those other shop owners around the country, who don't have it quite figured out!

 

Excellent advice!  Thanks for taking out the time to write that all out!  I will definitely incorporate some of your ideas as well as continue to maintain what's been working so far!

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My LCS uses free interns from the local colleges.  They basically clean, bag, board, price and organize for their allotted time.  Seems to work good for them.

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10 minutes ago, Pirate said:

My LCS uses free interns from the local colleges.  They basically clean, bag, board, price and organize for their allotted time.  Seems to work good for them.

What are they getting credits for?

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No idea assuming business majors.

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You need to find your slowest sales day of the week and abbreviate your store hours that day so that you can come in when the store is closed and price your entire inventory and get it on the sales floor. Make it a weekly thing if necessary. You don't want to become one of those stores that has a backroom with thousands of unpriced books. 

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No reason to shut down on a slow day. Especially to price books.

Just bring a box at a time to the work area behind the register and work on them when you can.

You should be able to find a few likely lads or lasses to help out to help out in return for books. $12 an hour in back issues will do. Volunteers don't require FICA or Workers Comp.

 

It sounds like it's going well and you are well on the road to success.

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12 hours ago, Genesis Comics said:

 

3) I look forward to coming to work - THIS!! This 10000000 times over.  For so long, I did not like what I did (restaurant manager).  I worked for independently owned, I worked for chains (UNO's, Hooter's, Applebee's).  I have yet to wake up and say "I don't feel like going to work today".  There are days when I'm sluggish, day's when I'm overwhelmed, day's when I'm beyond tired, but there hasn't been one day when I've been unhappy!  I'm glad I took the risk...I'm glad it's working out so far (knock on wood!!).  I'll be even happier when I start to take a salary!!   LOL...I've been re-investing into the business, whether it's inventory, cosmetic changes, or larger changes to the layout.  I'm still paying off the computer system...my plan is by the 1 year mark to be drawing a salary...we will see how that goes...

 

This right here is what its all about! 95% of the people I know dread going to work and can't wait for the weekend. And they are always bummed out when the weekend starts coming to an end and they know they have to go back to work on Monday. Being your own boss and doing what you love for a living...well, words simply can't adequately describe just how amazing it really is and ultimately, it will make all the difference in the world in regards to just how happy you are and ultimately just how content you are. All the extra time I spent in college (an additional 6 years), the HUGE amounts of money I spent going to private art colleges, the ridiculous amounts of money I had to continually spend on photography equipment which pretty much made me dirt poor for the first 3-4 years I started my business, etc. While I was in the initial thick of it, it was VERY HARD, sometimes overwhelming so. 

I openly admit that there were PLENTY of nights I started doubting myself and wether I made the right decision to drop out of environmental engineering so I could pursue photography, but I always wound up casting those doubts and negative thoughts aside and just continued to work as hard as I possibly could towards building my business. When I wasn't working. I was out shooting pictures trying to improve my portfolio's as best I could. There were days I was so exhausted that I could barely get out of bed. Those were easily some of the hardest years in my life, but I am extremely grateful to be able to say that it all wound up being worth it, a 1000 times over. I actually get excited for most of the jobs I do. 

As I said before, I truly believe that if someone is passionate enough about something and willing to work hard enough, anything is possible. Given what I have read from your posts thus far, your definitely passionate about the comic market and your clearly working extremely hard. As long as you continue putting in the kind of effort you have shown thus far....well, I have absolutely ZERO doubt I will be reading posts from you in 2-3 years describing just how great everything is going!

Edited by OrangeCrush

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Just curious how many comics you had as inventory going into this and how much stuff you have sitting around that needs bagging/boarding/pricing now? are you getting held up checking every book on ebay to make sure you're not missing some hot book?

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Now that you have been open a spell, it's crucial you get a maintenance schedule set up and stick to it.  Ten-fifteen minutes a day can really pay off.  Set up a schedule -one day doing the showcases, one day straightening back issues, one day sweeping and cleaning bathroom, ect,ect. 

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1 hour ago, shadroch said:

Now that you have been open a spell, it's crucial you get a maintenance schedule set up and stick to it.  Ten-fifteen minutes a day can really pay off.  Set up a schedule -one day doing the showcases, one day straightening back issues, one day sweeping and cleaning bathroom, ect,ect. 

I'll say this, having a nice clean bathroom can have a significant impact on the overall image/opinion people have of your establishment. I will never forget one of the first times I drove out west and hiked the grand circle of national parks. I was with my girlfriend and my best friend and we wound up stopping at this small gas station in the middle of Nebraska. With those kinds of gas stations, I had come to expect nasty bathrooms that are lucky if they get cleaned once every couple of weeks. I try not to even go into those kinds of bathrooms unless I absolutely have too, but this gas station was different.  Amazingly, it had one of the nicest bathrooms I have ever been in before. Not only did it smell fantastic (smelled like one of those really nice cinnamon candles you can buy), but it was also extremely well lit and decorated amazingly well. It had nice framed artwork on the walls, had this really beautiful large plant in the corner, and it was so clean it absolutely blew me away. It was like I had stepped into the bathroom in a 5 star restaurant. My girlfriend told me the female bathroom was the exact same way. This may not seem like a big deal and to some people it may not be, but it can leave a pretty strong impression on people, either positive or negative depending on just how nice it is or just how bad it is. I certainly remember some of the worst bathrooms I have been in as well. 

I also remember this bar in Moab Utah that had these framed cork board's above the male urinals and they would pin the front page of the paper as well as the front page of the sports page on these boards so you could actually check out the news while going to the bathroom. It was certainly a lot nicer than staring down into the urinal. This is just an example of things you can do to help make the bathroom a bit nicer and a bit more memorable, in a positive way. Either way, the condition of your bathroom will definitely have an impact on some of the opinions people form of your store. My advice would to be take a page out of that Nebraska gas stations book and make the bathroom as nice as possible and make sure it smells really nice in there and always nice and clean. 

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22 hours ago, the blob said:

Just curious how many comics you had as inventory going into this and how much stuff you have sitting around that needs bagging/boarding/pricing now? are you getting held up checking every book on ebay to make sure you're not missing some hot book?

I had approximately 80-100 long boxes going in.  I was buying stuff right up until I opened...bought 2 large collections and a few smaller ones that I had run across.  I do spend some time checking out books on eBay that are from the early to mid 2000's as I was mostly in a MTG phase during that time and am only now slowly learning the "key" issues.  Going in I had 90% of the stock bagged and boarded with 50% priced up and ready for the bins...I mistakenly thought I'd have plenty of time in the beginning as nobody knew I was there and I was preparing for days when nobody came in at all.  Luckily that wasn't the case.  I did a bad job with making sure that the "base" inventory was priced up.  Looking back, what I should have done after all the books were bagged, boarded, and divided alphabeticallly, was to price the 20-30 main titles for each main company (Marvel, DC, Image, etc).  What I actually did was price up everything alphabetically and got to the middle of the alphabet on the two major titles.  As things got closer to opening, my time was focused on other things, things came up that were unexpected, or things took more time than I thought they would.  I now have approximately 50 or so long/short boxes that need to be bagged/boarded organized and priced.  My plan is to price up the main titles in the next 2 weeks (kids are off from school next week, so should be busier) and get those out.  Then, once that is complete, I will be adding an additional area for comics.  I plan on culling through the collections to take out any more keys I find (I do this initially) as well as any run fillers which I am lacking.  

I don't think I'm wasting too much time on eBay...although I do use it as a guide for some books that I'm not as familiar with...I don't mind someone getting a good deal out of my bins as that leads them to go through the bins more often, which in turn leads to more sales.  

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