Best & Worst years to own a store?
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4 minutes ago, AcesN8s said:

86 - 91-ish. We've never had an abundance of comic shops proper in my area (Charleston/Berkeley/Dorchester counties S.C.).   The best times for me as a reader/collector were 77-84. We had several Book Exchanges in the area. 3 of which had comic specific areas, one in Summerville had a whole back room devoted to comics. By the mid 90's Barnes and Noble, in Galactus fashion, began murdering, er, buying out our Book Bag stores and others. 90's teens/young adults needed to be able to sit in the middle of an aisle reading instead of buying while drinking a latte', B&N provided that service. Book Bag  was our local in-state stores that sold only new books/mags/comics.  That trickle down effect eventually hit the remaining Book Exchanges and poofed them. Online availability of course plays a role also, then and now. Selection / convenience.  

Phoenix and Albuquerque had a lot of comic book stores back then.  I think at its peak, Albuquerque had about 7 shops.  Phoenix had quite a few more.  I remember in Phoenix spending from 10 in the morning till about 4 in the afternoon driving around hitting about 10 stores to see what they got in.

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I think the answer to this question really depends on what kind of store you are/were in the years in question.

Because for some, the best years would be years where the economy was in shambles and they were able to scoop up valuable collections right and left for pennies on the dollar. For others it would be when the economy was so good that people spent money on worthless detritus.

But I will toss out an unexpected answer: May 1999 - April 2000

Every shop that existed in 1999-2000 that had any kind of reliable distribution was printing money with Pokemon. At one point that fall I had a spiral notebook with probably 300 phone numbers from moms who had to have packs for their kids. Didn't matter if it was retail price or double retail or triple retail. Didn't matter if it was a 2 pack per person limit or just one. I had a couple hundred numbers I could call and folks would race to the store to give me money. Between Jungle and Fossil, I was routinely doing 2x rent in margin every month just from Pokemon booster packs. If I misordered a comic series here or there it was irrelevant because the Pokemon gravy train was nuts. It eventually died of course. But it was awfully easy to own a comic shop that year, when a product that took up less that 5 sqft of floor space covered double your rent every month.

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30 minutes ago, lighthouse said:

I think the answer to this question really depends on what kind of store you are/were in the years in question.

Because for some, the best years would be years where the economy was in shambles and they were able to scoop up valuable collections right and left for pennies on the dollar. For others it would be when the economy was so good that people spent money on worthless detritus.

But I will toss out an unexpected answer: May 1999 - April 2000

Every shop that existed in 1999-2000 that had any kind of reliable distribution was printing money with Pokemon. At one point that fall I had a spiral notebook with probably 300 phone numbers from moms who had to have packs for their kids. Didn't matter if it was retail price or double retail or triple retail. Didn't matter if it was a 2 pack per person limit or just one. I had a couple hundred numbers I could call and folks would race to the store to give me money. Between Jungle and Fossil, I was routinely doing 2x rent in margin every month just from Pokemon booster packs. If I misordered a comic series here or there it was irrelevant because the Pokemon gravy train was nuts. It eventually died of course. But it was awfully easy to own a comic shop that year, when a product that took up less that 5 sqft of floor space covered double your rent everyues

Yes, Pokemon made those years the best until recent years, 2018,2019, which have been pretty crazy between back issues and real strength in Pokemon again. 2020 was off to a great start, would likely have been my best year ever until the pandemic came along.

.

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I remember when I lived in the big city of Cheyenne but was going to college in 1983 to 1987.  A used book store my mom went to started selling used comics.  The sold them for $0.25 each.  I bought a ton of stuff and the owner was interested in getting into new comics.  She started selling new books.  I got a huge discount on comics by subscribing, I think 30% off.  That was where I bought most of my comics while going to school.  Shortly after she started carrying new comics, one of her workers quit and opened a comic book store.  They ended up hating each other and were constantly fighting.

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Best year - 1991

worst year - 1992

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2 hours ago, Zapp Comics said:

Yes, Pokemon made those years the best until recent years, 2018,2019, which have been pretty crazy between back issues and real strength in Pokemon again. 2020 was off to a great start, would likely have been my best year ever until the pandemic came along.

.

The mild winter meant February 2020 was up 70.3% over February 2019 for us (we are in an outdoor mall and weather is a major factor in casual walk-in traffic). On the day the pandemic closed our doors we were up 44% YOY. Sigh.

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3 hours ago, lighthouse said:

I think the answer to this question really depends on what kind of store you are/were in the years in question.

Because for some, the best years would be years where the economy was in shambles and they were able to scoop up valuable collections right and left for pennies on the dollar. For others it would be when the economy was so good that people spent money on worthless detritus.

But I will toss out an unexpected answer: May 1999 - April 2000

Every shop that existed in 1999-2000 that had any kind of reliable distribution was printing money with Pokemon. At one point that fall I had a spiral notebook with probably 300 phone numbers from moms who had to have packs for their kids. Didn't matter if it was retail price or double retail or triple retail. Didn't matter if it was a 2 pack per person limit or just one. I had a couple hundred numbers I could call and folks would race to the store to give me money. Between Jungle and Fossil, I was routinely doing 2x rent in margin every month just from Pokemon booster packs. If I misordered a comic series here or there it was irrelevant because the Pokemon gravy train was nuts. It eventually died of course. But it was awfully easy to own a comic shop that year, when a product that took up less that 5 sqft of floor space covered double your rent every month.

Not to derail the thread but I am curious, why did interest in Pokemon drop off?  And was it a gradual decline or did it essentially happen overnight? 

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On ‎1‎/‎8‎/‎2018 at 11:35 AM, lizards2 said:

I don't know how people even find shops anymore.  It used to be the phone book.

Google.

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On 1/8/2018 at 7:35 PM, lizards2 said:

I don't know how people even find shops anymore.  It used to be the phone book. 

I agree that 1989 was probably the pinnacle - there must have been 5 to 10 times the number of shops then - they seemed to be everywhere.

I live in the UK. But have holidayed and made work trips to the US since 1991. Five years ago, my wife and I decided to visit all 50 states. We checked them off as we completed our list using (our recommended) app "Been". We completed seven road trips including two coast-to-coast to finish off the states we had not previously visited. I remember a discussion as to what actually constitutes having "been" to a city or state. Our conclusion was based on three determinants:

1. We had to stay overnight;

2. We had to have a beer in a local bar; and

3. We had to have a story to tell when we left.

On our travels, we used Google to find comic shops in cities as we passed through ("Comic shop near me" with location services activated). Thus we have been to a lot of US comic shops! Most cities have 2-4 that we could find; of course some have more. We met some super-nice people. I remember meeting Chewbacca (the late Peter Mayhew)'s best man in Boise, Idaho, and some zombie extras from The Walking Dead in Atlanta, GA. I'm a returnee to comics after collecting them as a kid. I missed the late 80s-early 90s "hay-day" as others have described it.

I just wanted to say that comics stores are still "out there" and generally crewed by great, really pleasant people. And thank you to my wife for indulging me...

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9 hours ago, DWL said:

Not to derail the thread but I am curious, why did interest in Pokemon drop off?  And was it a gradual decline or did it essentially happen overnight? 

Over maybe 3 months?

And it wasn’t as though it disappeared entirely. It went from “people who enjoy the game plus literally everyone else that age trying to not miss out” to “people who enjoy the game”. The folks who genuinely enjoyed playing or collecting continued. It was the folks who were only buying because they needed to be part of what was cool that disappeared. (Likely the exact same story as baseball cards in 1986, football cards in 1990, comic books in 1992, etc).

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This thread could have been titled

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"

Too be honest the best times to own an actual store was pre Ebay or other forms of online shopping.

We live in the times of instant gratification 

The worst of times...Now

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12 minutes ago, Hollywood1892 said:

The worst of times...Now

yep .. many LCS will never recover .. they were hurting in the first place ...

not just LCS but all kinds of businesses... my favorite breakfast diner just announced it will not be reopening , a mom and pop diner that had been open for 40 years with a loyal following...

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Well, for me the worst would be this year. We opened a small shop last October. January and February were our best months so far. We had to shut down over a week ago. Hopefully it isn’t too long until we can open again but who knows? Luckily, we mostly sell back issues. I have some new comics but not too many. The shop is our family side business and I’m glad I got a place with really cheap rent. We can hang in there for some time. I feel for the bigger shops with those big monthly rent payments coming due. 

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16 hours ago, lighthouse said:

I think the answer to this question really depends on what kind of store you are/were in the years in question.

Because for some, the best years would be years where the economy was in shambles and they were able to scoop up valuable collections right and left for pennies on the dollar. For others it would be when the economy was so good that people spent money on worthless detritus.

But I will toss out an unexpected answer: May 1999 - April 2000

Every shop that existed in 1999-2000 that had any kind of reliable distribution was printing money with Pokemon. At one point that fall I had a spiral notebook with probably 300 phone numbers from moms who had to have packs for their kids. Didn't matter if it was retail price or double retail or triple retail. Didn't matter if it was a 2 pack per person limit or just one. I had a couple hundred numbers I could call and folks would race to the store to give me money. Between Jungle and Fossil, I was routinely doing 2x rent in margin every month just from Pokemon booster packs. If I misordered a comic series here or there it was irrelevant because the Pokemon gravy train was nuts. It eventually died of course. But it was awfully easy to own a comic shop that year, when a product that took up less that 5 sqft of floor space covered double your rent every month.

I remember the phone calls from parents during that time when I was in the shop. My LCS had so many he started carrying them.

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Hollywood1892 said:

This thread could have been titled

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"

Too be honest the best times to own an actual store was pre Ebay or other forms of online shopping.

We live in the times of instant gratification 

The worst of times...Now

I would disagree there. A good store uses ebay and Facebook and IG effectively to attract new customers and make large sales.
The bad stores don't. 

Let me edit that by saying I agree with right now.

 

 

Edited by fastballspecial

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2 minutes ago, fastballspecial said:

I would disagree there. A good store uses ebay and Facebook and IG effectively to attract new customers and make large sales.
The bad stores don't. 

Let me edit that by saying I agree with right now.

 

 

I'm just saying there is alot of overhead on bills ect that can be circumvented by strictly online...but trust issues also come with that....and trust is built over time

I know a guy who lives on the other side of the country and I feel no fear sending him an transfer for a few thousand in books...trust is invaluable, especially in this market, because let's be honest 

We trust a piece of paper to increase in value tenfold

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The store I managed had a great run in the mid-to-late 90s in the middle of the market contraction. Yes, we were helped greatly by some non-comics income sources. We gambled and won on Magic: the Gathering from its launch in 93, and the US release of the Pokemon CCG in 98 was a such a license to print money that we occasionally felt dirty about it. But we ran a clean, (mostly) organized operation, modernized as we had the opportunity to, and fed off the corpses of our competitors as the Image/Valiant crash (and mismanagement) did them in. We were in an affluent suburb as well, so occasional weekend trips trolling garage sales for boxes of comics left behind when trust fundies went off to college was, um, lucrative.

We closed doors right around 2000, not because the store was doing badly, but over co-owners' drama. I was given a super low-bid offer to buy out the place before we shut the doors -- which I sometimes regret not taking -- but was too intimidated by the idea of entrepreneurship at the time.

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13 minutes ago, Qalyar said:

. I was given a super low-bid offer to buy out the place before we shut the doors -- which I sometimes regret not taking -- but was too intimidated by the idea of entrepreneurship at the time.

I'm the same way

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But I will toss out an unexpected answer: May 1999 - April 2000

Every shop that existed in 1999-2000 that had any kind of reliable distribution was printing money with Pokemon.

------------------------------

That is exactly when my local shop went under. He sold pokeman, etc...pushed it plenty. Was 2 blocks from an elementary school and middle school in an affluent area. But it was not enough with everything else krapping out.

 

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