pondering opening a toy/comic store - suggestions/ideas?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Seaspray, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. Seaspray

    Seaspray TFW2005 Supporter

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    I'm getting to the age where I'm realizing that working for someone else isn't going to get me anywhere, so I've been thinking about opening my own business. I'm really thinking about running my own PC shop but am also thinking about the possiblity of running a toy/comic shop. I'm looking for things you hate/like about such stores and also am looking for folks who have done/are doing similar business and would like to share their experiences.
     
  2. FreshDebesh

    FreshDebesh <b><font color=brickred>oye chak de phatte!</font> Veteran

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    You should speak to Dr. Doom or Hiro_Prime. They're familiar with the business.
     
  3. Dalarsco

    Dalarsco Kickback=ROCK

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    Discounts are your friend. Visit all the comic shops in your city and find out what thier pull list discounts are. Undercut them as much as you can and still turn a profit. The one I shop at has a pull list discount of 20%, up to 25% for anyone with 10 or more books on it. Apply the discount to all books, too, not just ones on the list. People will be more likely to try new books that way, which is good for both you and new books. Bag and board all comics and don't raise prices once thigns have been on the shelf for a while. It's little touches like that that make customers appreciate you. A big mistakes the biggest shop in town makes is not bagging and boarding new stuff and riasing prices once it's bagged nad boarded. Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame is actually boycotting them for thier backissue pricing.
    It's also a good idea to have card and figurine game tournaments in store, it brings in people who will then be likely to buy things.
     
  4. Omnibus Prime

    Omnibus Prime I'm too old for this shit TFW2005 Supporter

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    Step 1) Go to Austin Books & Comics in (duh) Austin.
    Step 2) Copy them
     
  5. mblase

    mblase Well-Known Member

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    Bear in mind that this sort of business is NOT high-profit. You'll be doing it mostly out of love, because there's just not enough money to be made in this nowadays.

    Make sure you're in an area with a large existing customer base (i.e., close to a university campus) and that there's no one else in the area already doing the same thing.

    Ignore what Dalarsco said about large discounts, because you'll basically be giving away all your short-term profits without even knowing if it will improve your long-term profits.

    eBay is your friend. Sell stuff there as well as in your physical store. Get very, very good at it.

    Assume you'll have a sizable theft problem, since your target audience is heavily adolescent boys (and delayed-adolescent men) to begin with. Plan ahead.

    Buy low, sell high, keep your backstock to a minimum. Don't hold onto crap people aren't buying. That's what a collector does, not what a businessman does.
     
  6. Dalarsco

    Dalarsco Kickback=ROCK

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    Is Austin Books and Comics anything like what I described? If not, then go to Metropolis Toys and Games in Edmonton and copy them. They have been open two years and business is getting better and better. Pretty soon they will probably be moving so much stock that I won't be able to go there during lunch because they won't have the comics ready to go until well after I haev to be back in class.
     
  7. Boggs6ft7

    Boggs6ft7 TFW2005 Supporter

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    Not that you would be coming this way, but my local shop, Empire Comics, does very well.

    First reason, George is running a business. Most small comic shops are maintained by a few guys just keeping their habit going. Most don't turn a profit.

    You will probably have to sell gaming stuff too, it accounts for about half the revenue at my local shop.

    Be prepared to get screwed over in the toy department. Wal-mart and others have a stronghold on toys. They get them earlier and they get them cheaper. You will be able to deal in some specialty toys like DC Direct though.

    Don't be a jerk. You'll have customers that become great friends and customers that are just customers and not someone you would invite to movie night. But you have to be nice to everyone.

    Make your shop hangout friendly. My local shop has barstools and fridge. I spend plenty of money there just hanging out buying drinks. I personally can't stand shops where I can't walk in and have a conversation with someone.
     
  8. TheIncredibleHulk

    TheIncredibleHulk Find Gary Busey!

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    I worked in a comic shop years ago and loved it. The work, not the boss. The owner was a jerk but thats another subject all together. I've thought about opening my own shop many times but funds are never where they need to be. Just try to be fair to your customers without giving away too much of your profit. You're not going to get rich running the store so it has to be something you love to do.
     
  9. Omnibus Prime

    Omnibus Prime I'm too old for this shit TFW2005 Supporter

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    http://www.austinbooks.com/index.html

    For starters, it's friggin' HUGE. They've been open for nigh 30 years and there is absolutely ZEEro comparison to other shops in Austin. This is not yer dinky, cramped strip-mall rectangle with new books stacked all of 10 deep taking up half one wall (I'm lookin' at you Lone Star Comics in DFW).
    I've been in comic shops in Atlanta, Athens and Macon GA, Chapel Hill NC, New Orleans and various aformentioned LSCs in DFW in the last couple of years. Some were better than others, some just sucked balls, but at pretty much every one of them, there was something that made me think,"Dammit..this wouldn't be a problem at Austin Books," from sold out books to prematurely jacked up prices to shitty selection, etc. Massive back issue, TPB/GN and indie selection. If it's in print, they have it. It's good enough to spoil you, I know that.
     
  10. Spider Striker

    Spider Striker ThisGuyWithTheYellowCap

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    This is the biggest one in this type of business, I think. I go to my comic shop every week, and even after I get my haul, I end up just hanging out for a few hours, talking to the workers and other customers about whatever. Sometimes I go just to hang out and don't buy a damn thing.

    I also highly recomend a "resiverist/pull list" program. Have people sign up, and give them first dibs on the books they want. It's a huge help with big things like Marvel's Civil War and the like where titles can sell out almost instantly. If I can't make it one week for whatever reason, I know the titles I ask for will be waiting for me whenever I do make it in.

    Reservists at my shop also get a higher discount when the store has a sale. Right now, they're having a sale on Heroclix, and while "Johnny Walk-In" gets 20% off, we reservists get 50%. Makes things very tempting and I tend to spend more money when sales are going on.

    I would also consider a "open reading policy," where people can just come in and read. I've gotten hooked on plenty of titles because I'm allowed to read them first risk free. Of course, for every title I've started buying, there's one I've put back. I don't know how this effects things from a business POV, but if you can afford it, I think it'd be a good move.
     
  11. Seth Buzzard

    Seth Buzzard R.I.P. Buzzbeak Content Contributor

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    There is really only one full blown comic book store in my county (that I’m aware of, there are a couple places that sell comics but it’s like the “other thing” they do) and the owner Kathie works like a dog keeping that place going. If I remember correctly she has been running that place for at lest 15 years now, and I don’t know how long it was around before she bought it from the original owner.

    There have been many more that have come and gone over the years. The last one to open up in my town lasted only about a year and that was at the height of the comic boom in the 90’s. So as other people have pointed out if you go for it it’s got to be as a labor of love and not a get rich quick scheme.
     
  12. Deefuzz

    Deefuzz Beard On! Beardmaster! Veteran

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    I've always wanted to do something like that, but mix it up a bit differently. I realized that there was no way I could ever afford it, or if I could get it started I would be dead in the water within a year.

    Best of luck to you though, I hope you find a method that not only suits you but helps you to earn a decent living.
     
  13. MegaMoonMan

    MegaMoonMan www.megamoonman.com TFW2005 Supporter

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    Open an internet cafe/online gaming/PC/comic shop. If one part fails, hopefully the others will fill the gap.

    Sell transformers at a decent price (unlike any comic book shop I've ever been too).
     
  14. Seaspray

    Seaspray TFW2005 Supporter

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    That idea just made a lightbulb go off over my head :) 
    Hm...one of the main problems with running a PC shop is getting a hook to distinguish yourself from other shops - something along these lines just might be the thing - also all my eggs won't be in one basket.

    Thanks for all the suggestions folks - keep 'em coming if you have any more ideas. You are being a big help.
     
  15. Foster

    Foster Super Mod

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    You talking about Hot Comics? They have some SERIOUSLY overpriced early G1, but some of their later stuff is more affordable. I agree that getting into a few different things would be a great way to see what works.

    Find out if an established shop nearby might be for sale. That might be a lot easier than starting from scratch.
     
  16. MegaMoonMan

    MegaMoonMan www.megamoonman.com TFW2005 Supporter

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    Yes, them and others not around here. Some of the prices they slap on beat up G1 crap are insane. I tried selling them some stuff a while back, and the guy was telling me they don't really move that many TFs.

    Hmmm, I wonder why?
     
  17. Ktulu

    Ktulu Whoosh TFW2005 Supporter

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    This is something I'd like to do myself one day possibly so all the suggestions here are a nice read. I can offer nothing myself unfortunately. I can only wish you good luck.
     
  18. cobra zartan

    cobra zartan Think's He's a Detective.

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    O noes not another metropolis lover, Don't you find their prices are insane? 90% of their stuff is heavly marked up. $100 for a gf galvatron? $85 -$90 for BTA's, not to mention the alt primes that were held for me and after I drove for 5 hrs to get to edmonton they decided to sell them.
     
  19. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

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    The comic stores in my area are usually a combo of some sort like comics/trains/models store or comics/used books (mainly mystery and sci-fi) or comics/used DVDs. So don't think you have to be just comics. Most comics stores in my area area also have some sort of gaming night or afternoon for those trading card games and stuff. You said you're into PCs so the Internet cafe thing might be a good angle to incorporate.
     
  20. Tenebrouser

    Tenebrouser Craft...or is it crap?

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    What he said, on the money.

    These businesses are VERY difficult to keep afloat. I would also add that developing a friendly and reliable reputation is a MUST. My experience with these places has always been negative because the owners around here were shady. Those stores went out of business.
     

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