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The Local Comic Shop Experience


#1

Tell us about your local comic shop (LCS). Is there an LCS in your area? Do you do business there? If so, how do you feel about the shop you frequent? If you don’t have a shop or don’t frequent the one close to you, why? How do you feel about the LCS model for distributing comics? What are some benefits and hurdles you see? I am curious about customer and business owner perspective along with anyone from the creative or distribution side.

Note: The first few posts below are what sparked this thread idea.


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#2

What is your location, Tom? The nearest Mod will be dispatched to “persuade” your LCS into ordering more copies next time. :wink:


#3

Awww it’s a Mom and Pop organization.
Leave 'em alone. They get by on collectibles haha.

There’s a Bob the Henchman on sale for 35 bucks! Wooo


#4

Just joking. I understand. I can’t imagine how some LCS’s make it today. The one I used to go to was a small, mostly subscription account. On top of that, Diamond made them pay COD. So if the previous week had been lean or someone hadn’t paid for their pulls, they could be in trouble.


#5

They have shelves of old stuff.
I think there’s some backroom stuff going on as well.
In the future comic shops will be some shady stuff I swear.


#6

I love the LCS idea. It’s a little more hit and miss in practice. I’ve been tempted to go all-digital with some trades but the idea of the LCS keeps me at least somewhat hanging on.

I was extremely close to the LCS owners where I used to live. The shop was small and mostly subscription based but it was my hang out spot on my day off, my proverbial 3rd place. I’ve frequented two since I moved and haven’t found the same experience at either. The first wouldn’t even do a pull list. The second is good but something’s still missing.

I’ve been to some really great shops over the years too. Star Clipper in St. Louis was the first that opened my eyes to the possibility. They’ve since closed and possibly reopened with new owners. @JimOHara’s local, Graham Cracker, had great staff and a strong selection. I was particularly impressed with the amount of product they put in their downtown Chicago shop without making it too cluttered.

As I said to Tom before, I’m not sure how some shops make it. The LCS owner where I shop now basically says the subscriptions keep the lights on and he makes his profit off of buying and selling collections. He has one of the largest back issue collections I’ve seen in an LCS.


#7

There are a couple of great comics shops in my city, and I used to have a standing order at one of them. That changed when I moved jobs and wasn’t able to get into town so easily during the week to pick up my order, so I started buying comics by mail order instead.

I still used to go in to the shop from time to time, but in the end that tailed off too - partly because all my comics needs are met by mail order for physical books and digital platforms for digital, and partly because I just have far less free time now for various reasons.

I haven’t been back to either of my two locals for months now - the last time I went to one was I think for MM’s signing back in April.


#8

When I started reading comics they were off the stands of newsagents. I would see in the back of Marvel UK comics people advertising comic shops but the closest was over the border in Bristol. I did go there on a bus trip one day and spent hours in that amazing place, I never wanted to leave. I can tell you it was in about August 1985 as I picked up Uncanny X-Men issue 198 as part of my haul.

That was too far away so I used Ace Comics mail order after that, pretty soon they opened a Forbidden Planet in Cardiff and a shop in Swansea but Ace prices and customer service were so good I stuck with them, so really despite having read comics for over 30 years I have never been a regular at an LCS. I only used the shop in Swansea (which sometimes provides the pile of comics photos for the new comics thread) to pick up stuff I may have missed.

In Malaysia they only have about 3 comic shops nationwide and none in the city I live in so I moved to trades exclusively until digital came along.


#9

It seems strange to call Midtown Comics, where I make my weekly purchases, a “local comics shop”. In addition to their on-line store, they have three brick-n-mortar locations in Manhattan, as well as a retail booth in the Toys R Us store in Times Square and had one in the famous F.A.O. Schwarz toy store that recently closed its doors.

Among its pluses:
**they open weekdays at 8am and stay open late, so I never have a problem getting in for my stuff;
**each time my cumulative purchases reach $100, the next $20 worth of books is free;
**they are so well-stocked with new books that I don’t have to stress about getting there on Wednesday or Thursday;
**their staff are not a bunch of fanboys and fangirls; they actually have retail sales experience and are very professional;
**they have frequent signings – I even met the Chief there once and got a copy of War Heroes signed by him and Tony Harris.


#10

Ya. Midtown Comics is probably the best example of what a comic shop can be. Those are some great perks too.

I think this one is a real key going forward. I think it’s good to have people that enjoy comics but professionalism has to be first priority.

FAO Schwarz closed?!? I was hoping to go there in October when we went to NYC.


#11

I like their shot glasses, and Jerry kindly gave me one as a gift, but to be honest I wasn’t impressed by Midtown.

The central location is impressive but Forbidden Planet in London has that and is bigger and better.


#12

What does Forbidden Planet have that Midtown is missing? If I’m not mistaken, Midtown is Diamond’s single largest account.


#13

Well both have a lot of stores but just as a consumer the Times Square Midtown is a lot smaller than the West End FP and as a result has less of a range. The comics coverage is roughly the same but the sci-fi book and other parts are better in FP.

If I could bamf like Nightcrawler to any location I’d go the Forbidden Planet in London, but if I could choose any location I think Nostalgia and Comics in Birmingham is the best I’ve ever been to. It’s really big.


#14

I have had three LCS’s since I started reading comics which I guess is pretty rare here in the UK.

My first Central City Comics in Ipswich was, and still is, a great little shop. Two walls of new issues and recent back issues with a huge selection covering a range of publishers. Vast collections of back issues stored in alphabetised long boxes, and collected runs being sold as bundles.
The owner sits at the counter usually using his laptop and occasionally eyeing you suspiciously but he was actually really helpful once younger me plucked up the courage to ask him for recommendations etc.
It was dark and dingy and had a library atmosphere to it but at 12 I thought it was amazing. I still go back regularly when I am back home and the lighting has improved but it still has the same library feel to it.

My second was Forbidden Planet in Cambridge. When compared to my old LCS this place was like Aladdin’s cave, full of wonderful collectibles, a huge selection of current issues, imported DVD’s etc etc. it was a jammed to the rafters with geeky goodness to the extent that it often seemed a mess.
However the staff were knowledgable and, if you caught them on a good day, willing to get into discussions on the medium and give recommendations. After a while the store got streamlined and de cluttered and seemed to improve even more. I got to know some of the staff quite well and had a number of discussions about The Boys with one of the managers who seemed as big a fan of it as I was.
It has recently relocated to the other side of the street (into what used to be Hughes, people who know Cambridge) and is now a white and fluorescent lighted minimalist monstrosity that screams chain store. All the character has gone, I actually dislike spending money there now even though it has the best selection.

My current LCS, Niche Comics in Huntingdon, is run by two brothers from a tiny Tudor era shop with a wood burning stove as the main source of heating during the winter. The shop is run by two brother who, as the name suggests, have an interest in niche comics. This is great because I find myself more drawn to non superhero titles as I get olde and this is something they have a good selection of. Unfortunately the shop is tiny and has very little space, they have two this book cases of trades and two small display racks of current titles. Due to the focus of the shop it is sometimes hard to get current issues from Marvel and DC unless you start a pull list.
Due to the size of the shop I find it hard to visit if I have my boys with me, especially Theo as he is still in the pushchair (which barely fits in the main room). The guys who run the store tolerate my eldest being there but it was clear on our last visit that he was become unwelcome, which is a shame as the reason he was excited and hyperactive is that he loves visiting the comic shop.
It is also clear that their main income comes from being a Warhammer distributor and not from the comics and this is a real shame. Plus the elder of the brothers has made it clear that he is not a fan of The Chief and won’t actively stock his comics unless people ask for them.
I will continue to support them but will have to venture into Cambridge and the dreaded FP if I need/want something more specific which they don’t carry.


#15

I visited Nostalgia and Comics over the summer and was incredibly impressed. Great range, friendly staff (my wife poked fun at me for “making a friend” while I was their as I got into an ice hockey conversation with one of the staff!) and, as you say Gar, a really large footprint for a comic store.


#16

Didn’t know you’d been to Nostalgia Gar. That’s the one that was my local for years. Have you visited it recently? They had an overhaul a few years back and it’s really smart (and even bigger) now.


#17

Yeah, the staff there are great. Really friendly and enthusiastic guys. Rich Nunn used to post here a while back occasionally, I think.


#18

Not unless you count 20 odd years ago as recently. :smiley:

It’s still the biggest comic shop I’ve been to.


#19

It is a huge-feeling place. I think the high ceiling helps. :slight_smile:


#20

Damn, I feel like I’ve been underrating the place now. It’s nice but I haven’t managed to strike up any conversation with the staff.
Plus I’m still annoyed that I missed the Chris Ward signing they did there.