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.