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Old 01-09-2020, 03:56 PM
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Opening game/comic store: making first buy. Advice?


Latest in my saga of opening my own comic/game/art store. Were two weeks out and arranging first inventory purchase.

I figure Id ask.

Im getting the top 50 comics and top 100 trade paperbacks. What else shall I stock?

And what games? Magic the Hatheting, sure. D&D and Pathfinder, sure. But what else? CCG? Casual games? Big complicated games?

And collectibles?
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:15 PM
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Look at what is gathering dust on the shelves of that other store you tried to buy, and avoid stocking that.

Quote:
Magic the Hatheting, sure.
Forget those cheap off-brand clones--go for the real thing.
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:30 PM
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Order of the Stick books might be a good idea. A lot of folks have commented that the shipping on the latest volumes costs more than the book itself-- If we'd known a way to buy them without the shipping cost, we probably would have. On the other hand, this might be exactly the wrong time for that, after all of your customers have just ordered the latest book for Christmas.

The same principle might also apply to collections of other webcomics. Maybe just get a stack of the latest volume, whenever it comes out, for each one, and when they're gone, they're gone.

You might just play it by ear: Start with just the big names that you know there's a market for, and wait for people to come in to the shop and ask "Do you have _____?". Keep track of what they ask for.
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:35 PM
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Maybe gaming figures and modeling supplies? Generic gaming stuff--dice, hex grid paper? Maybe a used book section?
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Old 01-09-2020, 07:26 PM
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I think it was in your previous thread, but I'll echo Oakminster a bit. Some small inexpensive games "up front" by the register (like Love Letter/Coup/Rhino Hero, these are all a bit more expensive that I was thinking but the form factor is right.) And also, maybe a small collection of puzzle books- sudoku, other logic puzzles. I'll give a plug for a local store that I love that has some gaming (no comics), but they actually go the other way- from math and math worksheets through puzzles to 10% of their inventory being games. But I can go in there and say 10 year old girl or 55 year old guy and they will have 5-10 things for every person. Math-N-Stuff But they have all kinds of dice and fun little things (Rubiks) in addition to their game selection.
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Old 01-09-2020, 10:18 PM
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You might just play it by ear: Start with just the big names that you know there's a market for, and wait for people to come in to the shop and ask "Do you have _____?". Keep track of what they ask for.
Strongly agreed.

With that being said, avoid Games Workshop stuff like the plague. It's fun and I like their games but it's stupidly expensive and stunningly niche. I see all kinds of their stuff gathering dust at the shops I visit.
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:18 AM
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Remember that it's easier to get re-stock than it is to get rid of overstock. Keep the quantities tight.
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:53 AM
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board-games … dice-games (ccg, rpg, etc) … statues 'n figurines … collectibles (including limited edition) … posters 'n art … t-shirts/caps with your own logo … seasonal items (star-wars latest film) … promotional items (comi-con is in town) … etc. additionally, if you haven't considered this … provided you have room/budget, chairs 'n tables where customers can read/interact/refreshments.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:07 AM
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Something that I just thought of that is kind of off the wall--the possibility of adding a few Japanese-style gashapon capsule vending machines with gaming and comics/anime related toys. I know that if I had some of these around, I'd be more addicted than a stereotyped old lady at a Vegas slot machine. Cant find any that use US coins? Stock yen coins, sell them like tokens (at a mark-up.)
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance View Post
Latest in my saga of opening my own comic/game/art store. Were two weeks out and arranging first inventory purchase.

I figure Id ask.

Im getting the top 50 comics and top 100 trade paperbacks. What else shall I stock?

And what games? Magic the Hatheting, sure. D&D and Pathfinder, sure. But what else? CCG? Casual games? Big complicated games?

And collectibles?
Wow, I had no idea! How exciting!

Have you considered making space for table top gaming? My son used to go to a comic store, that on Thursdays would host table top gaming (he went to play MtG). They on,y had a couple tables, but it seemed really popular.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:57 AM
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Waaayyy ahead of you.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater

If you can see that, you can see the tile has two colors. The white is where the couches and gaming tables will be placed. The black tile is the sales floor. Customers must transit the sales floor to get to the gaming tables.

The second picture, again if you can see it, is part of the display space. We'll have racks and shelving as well. But I kind of like that. And they were cheap!

We'll be selling

Games, board and card
Collectibles
Art of the nerd variety
Comics and graphic novels

All suggestions are well. I'm swapping emails with the people from Diamond right now.
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:11 AM
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Just a thought from a comic book reader who reads nothing produced after 1985 - Would you ever consider arranging graphic novels, collections and back issues by era? My dream LCBS would have separate Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age sections. I don’t think that would do anything to promote the broad appeal a new business requires, but I can’t help trying to make the world conform to my personal preferences.
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance View Post
Waaayyy ahead of you.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater

If you can see that, you can see the tile has two colors. The white is where the couches and gaming tables will be placed. The black tile is the sales floor. Customers must transit the sales floor to get to the gaming tables.

The second picture, again if you can see it, is part of the display space. We'll have racks and shelving as well. But I kind of like that. And they were cheap!

We'll be selling

Games, board and card
Collectibles
Art of the nerd variety
Comics and graphic novels

All suggestions are well. I'm swapping emails with the people from Diamond right now.
Very, very cool!
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Old 01-10-2020, 01:42 PM
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I work at a comics and vintage toy store that skews toward the indie comics scene.

We sell more Raina Telgemier books than I ever expected. The past ten years have had a real turn around in kids comics, so don't ignore those if you think parents will be in. We used to have kiddie corner that sat neglected for years, now it's in the front of the store and goes like crazy. Raina, Amulet, Dogman, Star Wars Academy, Moomin, Lunch Lady, Hilda, etc.

We keep vintage card packs by the register that sell well (like Garbage pail kids, etc.) but the manager here hunts flea markets for fun for that kind of thing. We also buy illustrator stickers (like stinckers brand) and have machines for them that are popular.

If you get into manga (Japanese comics) be very careful with what you stock. They go for very long runs that can end up sitting forever and then you're stuck with vols 3. 6. and 12 for the end of time. I consider myself very manga knowledgeable but it's a hard market to keep going if you're not a big store.

We don't sell games but I get someone asking me about Magic the Gathering at least once every time I work, so that's a safe bet.

Just accept that Diamond is totally incompetent and will destroy your books and there's nothing you can do about and move on when it happens (but definitely make them replace them). Trust me on that. They are the worst.
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Old 01-10-2020, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Lavender Pebble View Post
The past ten years have had a real turn around in kids comics, so don't ignore those if you think parents will be in. We used to have kiddie corner that sat neglected for years, now it's in the front of the store and goes like crazy
I play a weekly game at a comic shop and always look to see if there's a "good" comic to pick up for my kid. I have a hard time finding self-contained comics (i.e. stuff my kid won't have to wait a month+ to continue) that aren't Archie/Riverdale, Cartoon Network licensed stuff or Sonic. No offense out there to any kids who do like those, mine just hasn't shown any interest (though he has liked Genie the Genius, Cosmo and stuff like Hilo, though that's not a $3 weekly buy).
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Old 01-10-2020, 02:21 PM
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Maybe off the wall, but what about high quality jigsaw puzzles? Not like 550 piece pictures of kitties, but 2000+ piece really cool ones.

I usually buy mine at Half Price Books when I see one I like, but my local gaming store has quite a few as well. A lot of them are the usual 550 piece pictures of cats, though.

Or maybe fantasy, comic, or game themed. Like my Fallout jigsaws.
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Old 01-10-2020, 02:41 PM
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Boardgame event space is pretty big.

I'd invest in a small kitchen and start figuring out how to optimize table space and minimize shelving below shoulder height.

People buy stuff online. The store is a place to meet fellow nerds. The comics and games are props to give them an excuse to come check out the digs.

Financially speaking, I'd target the female market as hard as you can, so I'd be looking to see what games and comics are rated higher by them. You'll fail to get over 30% among your customer base but any non-zero quantity is going to be your largest draw into the shop since, like I said, it's all really about creating a social space and all-male social spaces aren't generally going to be super popular these days. And that's the direction that gravity flows in this space, without an active effort to resist it.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 01-10-2020 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 01-10-2020, 02:43 PM
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Paint and painting supplies.
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Old 01-10-2020, 02:47 PM
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While providing the boardgame event space you may want to have pop, chips, beef jerky, or whatever other snacks you can think of to sell for gamer consumption.

Last edited by Cardigan; 01-10-2020 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 01-10-2020, 02:48 PM
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No craft supplies, sadly. Hobby Lobby is the anchor in our strip mall and they hold veto power. We got approved provided we didn't sell and craft supplies.

We'll have vending machines but no kitchen. That's a whole other set of compliance issues I don't want to deal with. We will have food trucks in, though.
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Old 01-10-2020, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
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No craft supplies, sadly. Hobby Lobby is the anchor in our strip mall and they hold veto power. We got approved provided we didn't sell and craft supplies.

We'll have vending machines but no kitchen. That's a whole other set of compliance issues I don't want to deal with. We will have food trucks in, though.
Yeah, I was just googling whether there are some vending machines that do food.

It would probably be unrealistic to import one from Japan. But it looks like there might be someone doing hotdogs, here in the US. Still hunting...
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:02 PM
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Yep: http://lfcsystems.com/products_faqs.htm
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:07 PM
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I would stay away from the gaming products at first, unless there's no gaming store anywhere near you.

Flying Colors (the comic book store that invented Free Comic Book Day) does fine with just comics and "collectibles" like figures - well, it does sell Magic The Gathering cards, but that's pretty much just a sideline.

One thing you need to consider: having customers set standing orders for titles.
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:08 PM
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Our local indie game store got by for years with gaming tables the public could schedule for free (sing a big whiteboard calendar). They sold a ton of snacks to the gamers. As far as I know, old age and retirement are what stopped the proprietor, not financial struggles.

Last edited by Sailboat; 01-10-2020 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elmer J. Fudd View Post
Just a thought from a comic book reader who reads nothing produced after 1985 - Would you ever consider arranging graphic novels, collections and back issues by era? My dream LCBS would have separate Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age sections. I dont think that would do anything to promote the broad appeal a new business requires, but I cant help trying to make the world conform to my personal preferences.
Libraries usually have large collections of graphic novels, so stocking the older ones may waste space.
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Old 01-10-2020, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lavender Pebble View Post
I work at a comics and vintage toy store that skews toward the indie comics scene.

We sell more Raina Telgemier books than I ever expected. The past ten years have had a real turn around in kids comics, so don't ignore those if you think parents will be in. We used to have kiddie corner that sat neglected for years, now it's in the front of the store and goes like crazy. Raina, Amulet, Dogman, Star Wars Academy, Moomin, Lunch Lady, Hilda, etc.
Definitely! Building on this, today's kids are potential lifelong customers. Are there any local libraries or schools whose kids' librarians you know and could retain as consultants? My buddy who ran an amazing comics shop in Chapel Hill for years was on good terms with some school librarians and held regular events designed to draw kids into the store (coloring contests, costume events, etc.), and he also made sure to have a lot of kid-friendly products, including graphic novels and manga and the like. It worked beautifully.
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Old 01-12-2020, 09:32 PM
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Would the "no crafts" ban mean you couldn't stock things like this? My son got really into making his own board games, and I was shocked at the "board game prototype" materials out there. A lot of them are really, really cool: Catan-style tiles, blank boards, blank dice, counters. What do they say? In a gold rush, sell shovels?
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Old 01-12-2020, 10:48 PM
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In addition to the youth market, I think you should consider tapping into the Boomer market, too. Theyve got lots of disposable income and are nostalgic for comics and games of their era.

Im an oldster and I would certainly spend money on vintage comics and games. For example, reprints or original 50s - 70s era MAD Magazines and pocketbooks is something I would buy (and Im sure Im not alone). I still have a stack of my 50+ year old MAD mags/books and Id love to fill in my collection.

Ditto with games. How about putting in a table-top Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Galaxian, or my favorite, Centipede (nobody could beat me in Centipede back in the day)? This could help coax parents to bring their kids to your establishment to play the modern games (and buy modern comics), while they play the vintage games (and buy vintage comics). Older people like me cant play the new gamestoo many buttons!

I recommend a kick-ass webstore with a blog and a broad social media presence (FB, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube). You want to build and maintain an online audience and groom repeat customers. If you want help with any of that, let me know. My partner (a millennial) and I (a boomer) build successful websites.

...and dont forget Archie comic books. I want to know what ol' Jughead's up to these days!
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:20 AM
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Related to the young people: you want funny things people will want to take pictures with, so that they post them on social media. Ideally with the name of your store in the background. Cardboard cutouts, movie props.

Restaurants figured put that if you made pretty food, you get free publicity. If malls had done the same thing, we might still have malls.

ETA: An outright photobooth with some LARP style weapons and funny hats might lead to a lot of publicity for a couple hundred bucks.

Last edited by Manda JO; 01-13-2020 at 07:23 AM.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:42 AM
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And you want some controversy that will outrage! some very small but very loud group but will act as only rolled eyes and free press for most people. Possibly the furries--nobody likes the furries.
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:58 AM
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And what games? Magic the Hatheting, sure. D&D and Pathfinder, sure. But what else? CCG? Casual games? Big complicated games?
Right now is the new Golden Age of board games.

Around here, Euro-style or German-style games are the hotness. Catan, Carcassonne, that kind of thing. Some of the newer ones like Scythe More social, more time-constrained and less directly competitive (no player elimination) than Amerigames, would make them also ideal for the gaming table in a store. Plus a lot of them look cool when being played so good for social media. If you really want to grab that crowd, commission a custom Catan set from some local maker, like oversize wooden lasercut tiles.

Also, a lot of them are kid-friendly or come in kiddie versions. There's even a kiddie Scythe

The other thing about boardgames I've noticed is that a lot of mundanes don't have a problem buying and playing them when they'd never play M:tG or D&D.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:36 AM
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Collectibles - figurines, posters, shirts, etc.
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Old 01-20-2020, 07:43 AM
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Old 01-20-2020, 08:29 AM
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I mean, that's a cute story for a hobbyist, but it's not a good plan for someone who actually has skin in the game.
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Old 01-20-2020, 10:33 AM
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I have a good friend who owns a comic book/collectible store Up North. And another who manages a store (GREAT chain in Chicago area). I could ask them simple questions if needed.

I do know one thing the manager said: "I've never gotten an actual Near Mint comic form Diamond or any other distributor. They're all affected by transit."

So, Jonathan, where's your store? Can we support it? Order some books online?
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Old 01-20-2020, 11:43 AM
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What gets me into a new comic book store is... the Fifty Cent Bins. Have a couple of short boxes of used 'books, and a couple with crappy quality/overstocks/coverless (boxes on the floor is the tradition). I'll grab a couple of "cheapo's", then start browsing the new stuff.

Some of us are hesitant to get hooked on a new store that'll deplete all our "walking around" money. But if I check out a store, and there's at least the potential of getting cheap stuff, I feel much better about stopping in on a regular basis. Featuring the Marvel and Image dollar books by the register works, too.

Just a month ago, I was on a long drive, google-mapped "comic book store", got off the freeway in a small town, realized I'd only have a few minutes, breezed into this store, asked "Do you have any Budget Bins?" Blank look from youngster behind counter... "50c? 3-for-a-dollar?" Blank look... "Any boxes with extra comics?" ... "Anything cheap?" Kids pivots 360, staring at tops of shelves... "Uhhh, no?" "Okay sorry gotta run have a good one!" Slam.

For used stuff, I'd hit up friends who have boxes and boxes of bronze/modern age comics cluttering up their basement. Or craigslist. But I'm sure you have your own sources.

Last edited by digs; 01-20-2020 at 11:44 AM.
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