Robot 6

My fantasy comics store: A girl can dream, can’t she?

Love & Rockets: Not good enough for the guys in some basement comics store in Brooklyn

Love & Rockets: Not good enough for the guys in some basement comics store in Brooklyn

At Publishers Weekly, Jennifer de Guzman tells one of those creeps-in-a-comics-store stories that are familiar to so many of us female types, and she wonders why, in this day and age, so many women still feel uncomfortable in comics stores.

I have had a few of those experiences myself—in fact, I quit buying comics in 1986 because I was fed up with the way I was treated in my local comics store, and I didn’t go back for almost 20 years. But I also know it doesn’t have to be that way—I am fortunate to live close to two excellent, and very female-friendly, comics stores, Comicopia and Hub Comics, both of which come close to the ideal I sketch out below. So I’m not here to complain.

No, I’m here to dream. It’s one thing to have a comics store where women feel welcome; it’s another to design one with them in mind. Well, OK, maybe just with me in mind, but I’m guessing I’m fairly typical. Here’s what my ideal woman-friendly comics store would be like:

A clean, well-lighted place: You can tell most comics stores (and liquor stores, for that matter) are guy hangouts by the utter lack of comfort. Fluorescent lights, wire shelves, grey indoor-outdoor carpet, cinderblock walls. We women like things nice: Real wallboard on the walls, natural light, eye-pleasing colors, somewhere to sit. Maybe even a plant or two. And…

Nothing grotesque on the walls: Or on the shelves. You know those zombie Spider-Man and Mary Jane wedding figures? We think they’re creepy. And the enormous poster of a woman with a wasp waist and melon tits? Not a turn-on (well, for most of us anyway). What I personally find creepiest, actually, is the dead eyes on so many comics women; that makes a lot of comics unreadable for me, and I sure don’t want them staring at me while I shop. There’s no need to plaster the walls with beefcake or ballerinas, just downplay the male-fantasy vibe.

Helpful staff: The same rules apply here as in any retail establishment (except, apparently, some comics stores): Staff should be respectful and polite, not ogle the ladies, and not be dismissive of our choices.

Let me tell you about that store in 1986. It was in a basement, and almost all the comics were displayed in cardboard boxes, but I could have gotten past that. The reason I quit shopping there was that every time I bought a comic, I felt like I was failing some sort of test. Whenever I asked for something, the staff treated the request with obvious disdain, and they never chatted with me or made recommendations. Meanwhile, my then-boyfriend had no such experience and kept telling me I was imagining things. The comics I bought there—Love and Rockets, Tales of the Beanworld, Omaha the Cat Dancer—have held up pretty well over time, so I don’t think the problem was the comics. And you know what? Even if it was, the staff’s job is not to judge my choices, it’s to sell me the comics, preferably in a polite and respectful manner.

A wide variety of comics in stock: Women are careful shoppers. We like to hold things in our hands before buying them, not pre-order them sight unseen. And we don’t want to come back if you don’t have something the first time. On the flip side, we like to browse, and if you put out a lot of things, we’ll probably buy more.

Discounts and deals: We also love a bargain. Send us a coupon for 30% off one item, and we’ll buy three. If we buy ten comics, toss in a free one. Knock off 10% every now and then. Women hate to pay full price, but even a modest discount makes us much more likely to buy; what you lose on the individual items, you will make up in volume.

Location: Going to a comics shop is usually a social event for me—I go with a couple of friends, and we usually have lunch beforehand or coffee afterward, so obviously a conveniently located coffee or noodle shop is a key enticement. Also, we women seem to spend our lives doing errands, so a store that is located on the way to something else, as opposed to requiring a special trip, is a store I will go to much more often.

Chocolate! Put it by the register, and we’ll pick up a truffle or three every time we shop. Trust me on this one.

It could be that the proverbial sweaty man-cave is an effective retail model for a certain type of customer, and maybe we should let the guys have their own stores. But I have observed over the years that guys often enjoy a comfortable environment and a good deal as much as women do, and a shop designed along these principles might find a robust clientele of both sexes—including some men being dragged in by their girlfriends.

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Comments

60 Comments

I am all for opening up comic book shops to a broader audience and moving away from the male stereotype, but what is being recommended here is only further perpetuating stereotypes. Some of the recommendations are very good, but the justifications are, well… “Women love bargains and hate gross stuff. We always have to run our errands, but we just love to browse. Oh, and more chocolate because women love sweets!” I am sorry, but I just found this post offensive.

You know, I’d argue that all of the suggestions you made would actually make any comic shop more appealing to ALL customers, not just those of the female persuasion! It’s about (or at least should be about) running a good business, and not just doing a half-assed job because your existing clientèle happens to let you get away with it. Sure, it’s an ideal and it won’t always be perfect in execution, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Something comic shop owners should strive for? A set of lofty guidelines that would make your place of business worthy of repeat customers, regardless of their ethnicity, occupation, income, social status, sexual persuasion and, yes, even gender.

But as great as your suggestions are, I couldn’t guarantee a chocolate sale for EVERY guy that came through! ;)

Swap ‘chocolate’ for ‘jellybeans’ and you just described COMICS R US in Bourke St, Melbourne (Australia)!

Nice column…well-written and argued. On the other hand, if you’re living in a place that does have great service and is female and kid-friendly and carries more than just superheroes…let the other store know that you’re going to shop there from now on. If you’re in Brooklyn (not certain if your caption by the picture indicates where you actually live), then why are you going to a basement comic book shop rather than Bergen Street Comics or Rocketship?

But yes, the half-assed stores are a blight upon our hobby, and more importantly, can potentially be a blight upon the entire industry.

Oh, I’m an idiot–I missed understanding that you’re in Boston now. Me read too fast, sorry!

Not to discount your post or what you’re sayin’ but, as someone that hasn’t had ANY kind of comic shop within 150 miles of them for over 10 years, let alone a “perfect” one, I can’t really feel sorrow for you, women, or any one bitching about how crappy their LCS’ are.
There’s probably thousands of folks that would be happy to just have one at all.

Not too long ago in one of our Getting Graphic.ly chats was on Women and Comics. When I asked the Guest Hosts what they thought about Comic Shops they generally had positive things to say about them, but acknowledged that there are ones out there that need to be more Female friendly.

From a guys point of view I think what you’ve listed can be applied to be a better shop in general, not just for women. I acknowledged during our show that I’ve shopped at places that I wasn’t a huge fan of either. One of the last ones I went to in MI was overcrowded with Toys and Figures, which made it difficult to move around.

Well said. I think something else that goes a long way are memberships that give you a discount on floppies and trades. That’s what my LCS does.

Something else I’d like to see in the ideal comics shop is one that is easily accessible to those in wheelchairs or using other mobility devices. A lot of shops are in basements, up stairs, tiny and narrow. So that’s a portion of the population that can’t even get into the shop, let alone decide if they’re comfortable inside.

And I’d add that it’d be nice to sell not just chocolate, but snacks in general. Especially if there is some seating or space for customers to hang out. That emphasizes the social aspect, making comics shopping a bit more of an event rather than an errand.

Good article!
I disagree with this being a gender thing though; I think it’s more about the tastes and standards of A) the owners of comic shops, and B) the consumers themselves. It’s the 21st century and any establishment that still adheres to your 1986 example’s benchmark of cleanliness and service standards should be put under serious re-evaluation.

Comics aren’t an obscure sub-culture anymore. Some are, but the medium as a whole is at least accepted. Readers come in all flavours these days and, regardless of what sits between their legs, they come to expect at least an adequate level of cleanliness and organization.

Re: the gender stuff, I actually take offense to “sweaty man-cave.” It seems implicit that because I was born with a certain part, I’m suddenly devoid of proper hygiene and have inferior standards of where and how I like to buy things. I guess that’s the trouble with gender perspective pieces though, you’re bound to ruffle a feather or two.

That other shop wasn’t Million Year Picnic was it?

I agree with a lot of folks — sounds like these are great recommendations to attract any LCS customer, not just female ones. My closest LCS is the stereotypical one you mentioned, but the owner and other workers are pretty female-friendly, but not in a creepy way. The owner’s daughter works there, too, from time to time, so I’m not always the only gal there.

Other than that, your post speaks to a dream of mine — to open a manga cafe stateside that happens to carry manga, graphic novels and other comics. There’d be racks of books you could read for free while eating and books that are for purchase only. Of course, I’d serve tons of delicious food reflecting my multi-ethnic heritage. And, since I’m “wish” mode, it would be ridiculously profitable, too.

Hey, a girl can dream right?

I wonder if that is mostly an American problem.

Here in Brazil, most comic stores I’ve been to were spotlessly clean, well-lighted, and had great variety. And the staff wasn’t impolite to women in particular (some were impolite to EVERYBODY, of course).

The only comic store I’ve seen that was a bit shady was the one located in a bad neighbourhood, close to a lot of porn stores. But even that one had great variety and friendly staff.

One of the things I like best about Hub Comics and Comicopia is that both stores organize their comics in a way that makes sense to a casual browser — you don’t need an exhaustive knowledge of comics to find things on your own. And that’s how it should be. I’ve been to too many shops where the underlying organizational scheme was more complex than the Library of Congress cataloging system, making it next to impossible to find things easily.

I love my LCS (Comics Toons & Toys in Tustin, CA) and the staff are awesome. No creepy vibe whatsoever.

I would, however, love to go to the shop in the movie Kick-Ass. Comics + food! Looked like a fun place to hang out. Anyone know if that’s a real shop?

Brigid Alverson

June 23, 2010 at 5:51 pm

@Julian: No, it was a crappy little basement comics store in Park Slope. I doubt it’s still there. I shopped there because it was down the block. There was a bookstore a few doors down where I bought Maus when it first came out. Nothing was ever the same after that.

Brigid Alverson

June 23, 2010 at 5:53 pm

@Maddy: Good point! I should have thought of that, as I have spent several years of my life maneuvering strollers (my kids) and wheelchairs (my dad) from place to place.

Brigid Alverson

June 23, 2010 at 5:57 pm

@Nic: I’m sorry you were offended by that “sweaty man-cave” comment—I actually didn’t think that one up myself, but I can’t remember who did so I can’t give credit. It’s more about the cave than the sweat, really.

Oh, that comic book shop in Park Slope. If it’s the one I’m thinking of…I walked out of it when the clerk and the owner started yelling at each other while I was standing at the counter to pay. I told them “I don’t want to be part of your bickering,” and did not return. It soon after went under. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Brigid Alverson

June 23, 2010 at 7:46 pm

@Bully: Wow, you must be as old as I am! It was on 7th avenue, near a pretty decent bagel place, IIRC. I haven’t been back to Park Slope since the 80s but I can only imagine how much it has changed. We were pretty thrilled that a comic book character lived there; now half the industry does.

I would actually love to have that Marvel Zombies Spider-Man/Mary Jane statue. I think it looks great, as does the cover it’s based on. One of my favorite parts of Marvel Zombies is Peter Parker moping about having eaten his aunt and his wife. Hilarious.

Also, you have to be really careful about going to an extreme. The kind of store you’re wanting could very easily turn into what I call a Wal-Mart comic shop. Oozing corporate out of every pore. I would rather shop in some comic store in the basement of a building than a plasticy comic shop. One of my favorite comic stores was sort of dimly lit, crowded with boxes and racks. It wasn’t dirty. But there were many boxes of old books in the middle of the store…ooh I love that smell. And the guy that worked there would talk to me quite a lot, and would order me any manga I wanted. That’s the kind of store I like, the ones with a mom & pop feel. Where you can find wonderful and magical things stashed away in a longbox.

The store I worked for a few years ago, was more on the other end. And it wasn’t a comic store. I mean, it was. It was a chain of comic stores. But to me, they were just pretending to be one. What they really were was a family game store that was trying to be a comic book store. And that’s business, so that’s fine, whatever. They wanted to broaden their customer base, and good for them. But they kept acting like they were a comic book store, and they weren’t. It was a store that sold a bunch of stuff that also included comics.

And…chocolate by the register? Now you are the one playing into a stereotype. There’s a term for items that you put up at the register, hoping to get a quick buy off them, but I forget the word…. But for me, someone who hates chocolate (and doesn’t care for sweets in general), an impulse buy (there’s the word) for me…. Throw some dice for a grab bag or something. 25 cent random dice. Packages of bags and boards (because I always forget to buy them). Useful multi-gendered items. :) Actually, snacks are fine. There’s nothing wrong with throwing some Pocky or something up behind the register. But it’s a little…offensive about that “hey throw some chocolate up there for the ladies!” Offensive is too strong a word, that’s not exactly what I mean.

I don’t know…I guess I just don’t really care about most of that stuff. As long as there isn’t a layer of dust all over everything, or cobwebs everywhere, and the merchandise is in the proper condition…I don’t care much what the store looks like. It’s nice to be able to chat with the people who work there, especially if you go to the same store regularly, but it’s not necessary. As far as layout, I can find my way around a comic store pretty well, so a mish-mash of content doesn’t bother me. Obviously I don’t want a nasty filthy store, but I don’t want to shop in a pristine plastic store either.

Two Comic Book Shops I’d Recommend:

Time Warp Comics in Boulder, CO. – http://www.time-warp.com/

A large, open and well-lit store with lots of helpful staff, bargain bins and a great selection of everything. Friendly and fun, Time Warp is a good old-fashioned comic shop without all the traditional negatives. No chocolate by the register but there IS Pocky. There’s also an amazing ice cream store literally right around the corner where they make every flavor fresh each morning ( http://www.glaciericecream.com/ ).

Isotope Comics in San Francisco, CA – http://isotopecomics.com/

I haven’t been back in some time but I have very fond memories of this place. Again, no chocolate, but this is a store so awesome they host celebrity signing parties (Warren Ellis, Ed Brubaker, ect) with DJs, booze and awesome themes. They also have one of the best staffs in the USA, run by a proprietor who has both Dr. Strange’s hair and wears the sharpest suits you will ever see. Let’s not even get into the comfy leather reading couch and myriad sketches hanging on the walls from famous comic book artists. If this store was any more hip, it would have difficulty looking over it’s pelvis.

My fiance and I were in the comic store today, which led me to this article, because we had the best time. There was no chocolate, there was “bad girl” art on the walls, and they didn’t have everything. But what they did have was an owner who had a conversation with us. We stayed an extra half hour just talking, and bought twice as much as we planned on. All because we felt so welcomed at the store. Maybe its because the store is run by a woman.

I once worked in a man-cave of a store. Keep in mind, I loved it and all the guys working there were nice, decent guys. HOWEVER. It was a converted mechanics garage and it looked it. The storefront, with nice big windows, is plastered over with posters and used for storage, meaning the patron has to walk down a long hallway before being dumped in to a concrete bunker with no windows and only one obvious exit (there are actually two more, but one is behind the counter and the other is way in the back and usually blocked by boxes.

For the two years I shopped there before getting hired, I stuck to the walls and didn’t talk to anyone who worked there except the manager, who cornered me one day and struck up a conversation. I was hired, basically, to class up the place. However, I soon learned that they figured that simply having a woman on register did that, and my suggestions to clean up the place were laughed off by most off the staff.

Except by the assistant manager, whose wife refused to step into the store or to bring their kids there. He was sympathetic and agreed with me that we wouldn’t lose any business from the regulars no matter how radically we altered the place, and that making the place friendly to women– not even just readers, but how about mothers being comfortable bringing their kids in there?– would only bring in more business. But nothing would convince anyone else that it would be a good idea.

Now I also shop at Comicopia and it’s incredible. It rescued my idea of comic shops and convinced me that I had been right– a shop could look like this and be successful and have a lot of women shop and work and bring their kids there.

Even as a girl, this post felt almost as icky to me as a stereotypical ‘get your girlfriend into comics’ post from a male writer. While I’d like clean, I don’t need a place lit up like a lantern, and I’m not fanatic about organization as long as the proprieter is willing to show me where something is when I ask. And while I do’t like blank-eyed melon-titted posters either, as a lesbian I /like/ tasteful decorations mostly involving women both tough and pretty. Your standards are not universal. And the chocolate thing? Really now? ‘Cause all women are slaves to their impulses or something and just have a gendered craving for cocoa product? Tchotches, dice, playing cards, comic previews, coupon books, or interesting snacks in general could do just as easily, you really don’t need to stereotype.

If you’re ever in the area of South Florida, I highly recommend Tate’s comics. It’s got everything, even jewelry upstairs. The staff (half of which are female) are the most helpful on the planet.

Here’s there site:
http://www.tatescomics.com/

Seriously, this is one of the only places in Miami that make me happy to be in South Florida.

Thea

The local comic store that I go to here in Fredericton fits a lot of your criteria (though it is not as comfortable as you might like, but that is a space issue, i think). It is bright and clean and the staff is polite and helpful.

Interestingly, I visited a comic store (Happy Harbour Comics) in Edmonton a few weeks ago and had a disagreeable experience. The place was bright and clean but the staff was uncommunicative. This is interesting because the person I dealt with was, primarily, a young woman. Three times I told her “thank you” – not once did she respond with “you are welcome”. By the time I told her the last “thank you” I was actually testing her to see if it was just me or if she was simply rude. At that point, I felt like telling her that the small niceties of good manners really do make a difference. But, in the end, I just decided that I would not shop there anymore.

I am so for changing the “norm” of what comics shops look like. I hate that in movies and television shows, shops are depicted so horribly. However, with the reason that most do look like the caverns that they are showing.

Check out Grasshoppers Comics in New Hyde Park, NY. grasshopperscomics.com.

Awesome place.

I’ve been going to New England Comics in Harvard Square for pretty much 10 years now (I’m 23) and I think it fits your description to a T. I think more and more new shops are fitting this description to be honest.

When I was in my early 20s, I used to hang out in my comic shop for hours just talking to the staff.

A few times, I would take my girlfriend in with me. On separate occasions relating sometimes to me, and other times to other people who took their girlfriends in with them, I was told that the staff saw this “as trying to show off” and this was looked down upon. So basically taking my grandfather with me, which I did numerous times was ok….but my girlfriend was off-limits.

While my girlfriend is not into comics much, she has also accompanied me to a few cons, and does buy stuff she finds interesting. However, after the “creepy” feeling the staff gave gave her (she said they were staring at her) at my LCS, she said she would never come back with me. Losing out on potential sales because of social awkwardness towards women is kind of a big deal in my mind.

Actually, I prefer comic book shops that are gender neutral and there are several like that in my area. Just as long as it is organized, has a variety of merchandise, will order for you and looks like a broom has been passed over the floors with acceptable frequency, I think you are doing pretty good. I think there’s a tendancy to be cluttery in some shops because they still carry back issue sections, which take up a lot of room.

I also frequent some very low end shops just because you never know what you find there. I guess it’s fortunate that there are still about 6 within easy driving distance but one is going out of business.

Snacks are ok but chocolates? I wouldn’t expect them to offer the amenities of a large chain outfit like Barnes & Nobles!

I worked in a comic shop in Duluth for a summer back in 1988.What a great time.I got there early and stayed late.Collectors Connection. We stocked alot of indy faves at the time and had a small but steady group of female buyers.Why would an owner keep an ugly,dirty shop? Cant figure that out. I have been in those before,though.Ugh! Bright lights,occasional discounts,open racks or tables.accessable back issues,25 cent boxes,pull lists w/dicounts always is a good thing.You are is business to sell comics to everyone and shop owners that dont know that are doomed.There was a LCS in Mesa,Az(not AC) that was a treat to visit,lots of obscure,affordable stuff on the walls.You saw something new everytime.Gruff,but friendly owner.I almost opened my own shop in Pinetop,Az.But a business Prof put my mind right on that.Too bad,it has always been a dresm.

Y’know, whenever I go into a comic shop that has chairs or a couch or tables set up, I immediately want to leave. The last thing I want when I walk into a comic shop is a group of unlikable nerds nerding it up annoyingly while I just want to buy a comic and get out.

I honestly feel this way about any store. Buy what you need. Get Out. No talking. No chatting. Employees or customers. Get Out.

Funny thing, as a guy, I hate many of the same things many women do about the LCS. I hate the ridiculous pre-pubescent images of “women.” Reminds me once of being in the Silver Snail in Toronto and seeing a dude who looked like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons hold up a number of female superhero action figures and comment, “Tasty..” as he looked at each one—very disturbing. Guy needs some friends and a sex life.

Ignoring the “chocolates” bit, you described Metropolis Comics in Bellflower, CA to a T. Of course, the fact that it’s owned by a woman (and also managed by one) probably has something to do with that.

LCS are so few and far between that I rarely think about the inside of the store and just get the comics. Bigger stores and chains are going to be your best bet for any type of good shopping conditions. My store is about 20 feet by 10 feet long, very small and is owned by a fat weirdo, but he gets every issue I want on time and even lets me have a few free every now and then, so I look past the interior and just go for the product.

Mark Kardwell

June 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm

One with no chicks except for the topless ones serving the beer.

Due to where I’ve lived, I’ve dealt with several small shops. I have come to understand that some of what you suggest would be a business killer to that size operation. They stock what sells and a little more. Having a lot of product and a wide variety of product on the chance that someone will come in, browse and buy, really means they are sitting on an inventory of product they aren’t selling and may never sell.

Also some of them exist in cave like retail space because it is really the only store space they can afford as a start up business. If things go well, in time, they can grow enough to afford a nicer, bigger space in a more appealing location. That doesn’t mean they can’t be clean and more visually appealing but it may mean the walls are made of what the walls are made of and the geometry of the space just won’t allow for much in the way of wider aisles or comfortable socializing areas.

How many titles are even available that girls (or women) can even get into? Do you need a whole store for 5 or 6 titles? Should a store cater to the smallest denominator? But I do think almost all of your points are valid, regardless of gender. I’m tired of feeling ‘gross’ when I go into a comic store, personally. I just kinda feel like Amazon or Borders is the place for readers like you with the current state of the industry.

I think the problem is these businesses don’t typically run their stores as businesses, and the ones that do are the clear stand-outs and exceptions. There’s no reason you should go into a comic store and the staff be sloppy or rude, etc. You wouldn’t have to put up with that at a grocery store or something, but it’s kinda the norm at a comic shop. If I ran a store, (and had all the money in the world), it wouldn’t have just comics, it’d have an art gallery, sitting section, video games, maybe some dvd’s and other tangential interests that other people would come in to buy and then grab some comics. That’s what I think is needed, not just appealing more to women but appealing to more people in general.

to anyone in the Pittsburgh area, they know (or should know!) that both Phantom of the Attic (in Oakland) and Copacetic Comics are great, friendly, inclusive shops that completely destroy the stereotypes of creepy, insular comic book stores and their employees.

My local comic shop (only one for about 500 km, actually) is most of the above. The staff don’t know a ton about comics, and the selection is middling, especially for easily finding back issues or non-mainstream trades (very hit and miss on both), but overall it’s not that bad, just more devoted to selling over-priced toys, puzzles and lego.

I have to agree with Rikk, I’d be happy just to have a shop open in my area. I get tired of having to have my comics shipped to me. Although I am thankful there is a shop that will do this.
That being said I do think most comic shops I’ve been to could stand to “liven up” the environment a bit. the larger franchise stores do tend to be more like the dream store you’ve described. Unfortunately in this day and age of disappearing brick and mortar comic shops the big money stores are a rarity in most areas.

I wrote an article almost exactly like this with some other points as well. Instead of what would be female friendly though. I focused on what would just make a great shop. Oddly enough, they are almost the same. You can read it at http://masterdigitalcolor.com/2010/06/comic-book-community-retailers/

“I almost opened my own shop in Pinetop,Az.But a business Prof put my mind right on that.Too bad,it has always been a dresm.”

Your business Prof. and all of mine as well, are completely right, only and idiot would open a comic book shop in this day and age. Still it has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and I would love to do it. I’d rather fail doing something I truly love, than be a success and hate every minute of it. Which is why I’m still working towards getting one up and running.
I think opening a shop is not necessarily a bad idea, there are a lot of shops, big and small, that do quite well. However, they are run by people who not only love comics/RPGs/Toys, but understand that it is a business first. Your main goal is to provide the best possible and most desirable services and goods to your customers, in a pleasant environment, everything else is secondary to that.
That is where a lot of shops fail. They think they are doing you a favor by allowing you to buy your comics and/or games at their shop or they live with the delusion that this is still the 90′s and that comics are printed gold.

I’ve visited comic shops from Washington D.C. to Sacramento Ca and lots of places in between and for my money, The Laughing Ogre shops in Fairfax, Va and Columbus Ohio are great shops and probably as close to your ideal as I’ve ever seen. They are well stocked with a wide variety of merchandise, brightly lit, clean and very family friendly. My kids have to be literally dragged out!
I’ve been in way too many shops where I was uncomfortable and felt ridiculed for my choices, so I can only imagine what a woman feels in most of the dumps that litter our industry!

I have to echo the comments of another poster. The description of your ideal comic shop does fit Comics’R'Us in Bourke Street, Melbourne in Australia.

Everything you’ve said is spot on, and is pretty much why I’ve been going there for about 15 years. While the staff is entirely guys and the bulk of the customers are male, it has a good friendly atmosphere that often results in groups of people hanging around and talking to the staff and each other.

Having a sound knowledge (and love) of the products they’re selling is only half of the battle. They give respectful feedback on the merchandise, good and bad. There’s a few other stores in Melbourne that all offer the same concept of service, but this store is a little more … animated than the others.

could not agree with this list more for the number one thing the comic shop needs to have is the customers. if no customers want to come due to not feeling comfortable the number one thing that would be needed for my ideal comic shop.

My current comic shop, Kings Comics in Sydney Australia, is absolutely perfect. Well lit, tiny store with plenty o variety and friendly staff. Only problem is its a fair walk away, and sometimes I dont want to talk into the heart of the city to pick up the 2-3 comics I want each week.

My ideal store would be for publishers to start getting serious about digital comics. Nothing like picking which comics you want from the comfort of your own home.

Personally I found Jaybird’s comments offensive,but what do I know?My immediate experience after many years away from comics, with the three LCS’s in the general area of Binghamton,N.Y., has been positive beyond a doubt. What amazes me is the fact that given the constant decline in population in the Broome County area that these shops are still doing OK,To me doing business digitally or strickly mail order loses the sense of community with other fans that is part of the experience of being a comic fan,We can’t support an over the top Comic Con so hanging out at the local shop is part of what makes comics fun.The major problem here is the inability to attract a youmger audience despite the fact that all three stores do make an effort to stock BOOM/Disney.Marvel Super Hero Squad, Mouse Guard, and others.Video games rule and the per issue prices are too high for kids to pay for themselves,Also Centerfield Cards and Comics owned by Scott Jones is the only one of the three that actually owns the building.Gentrification and redevelopment are tearing down much of the affordable older property in many areas.Mom and Pops cannot survive in an upward spiral of constant rent increases.You may miss those little cellar shops in a few years obnoxious staff or not.

Comicopia is a really, really good shop. I remember stumbling into it after a Sox game in 92, and even though I’m from the South Shore it’s the only store I make it a point to go to. (Also it’s the only store I go to regularly that my wife likes as well, so bonus points there.) But they do represent what makes a good shop, a strong focus on independents (and by this I mean D&Q, Fanta, SLG) as well as the majors, and manga. A friendly down to Earth and knowledgeable staff. An easy to manage layout, it has always felt more like a bookstore for comics than a comic book shop. As for Hub Comics, haven’t been Union Square is a tough place to get around when you’re driving :), but with the colleges out I may need to go there soon.

Now for the not so great comic shops, there is a local chain, they pretty much are the only choice for comics (well just comics) if you’re in the Boston area but not in Boston. And with the exception of maybe one particular store, it’s the typical type of store Brigid references. They’re sort of like a big chain store that only carries what’s in the front of the Previews Catalog. Two years ago my wife was looking to buy me Kramers Ergot 7 for Christmas, and called to see if they were getting it and they had no clue, and maybe worse was that I wasn’t surprised. After all it’s not like they carried Palookaville, Mome, or Eightball. (They’ll get Hate, and the occasional Optic Nerve or the (former) Love & Rockets floppy.) The main problem is they’re the main ambassador of a comics shop to the immediate area surrounding Boston, and sure one or two locations are halfway decent, but they’re located right near college campuses, and have to compete with Comicopia or Million Year Picnic. (Not to mention Newbury Comics)

Comics shops need to build up their appeal to a broad audience. You can argue losses to all forms of media, but the problem with some comic stores is the inability to adapt, the good ones are able to market and sell different genres. Sure super heroes will sell, but looking beyond the sea of spandex and being able to key into other wonderful products that people may overlook, and displaying them. You never walk into a book store be it a small local shop, or Barnes & Noble, and only see mystery novels displayed, but a variety of fiction and non-fiction. It’s time for the complacent comic shops to be more pro-active or else they will suffer the same fate that the large chain record stores did in the last decade.

My kid’s three.
Can you at least keep the porn behind a curtain, make a big spread of kiddie comics at the front of the store and put the breakable collectibles up on a shelf?

For all the retailers who complain about losing the next generation, there are precious few actually trying to welcome the reading parent with our kids.

Oh, and when the lease is up, consider a new location near a healthy retail corridor. Does every comic shop need to be anchored by the local head shop?!

Comic shops need to be undercover. Like a drug pusher, you want the new Batman DVD? Maybe you’ll like some comics to go with that yes, yes?

I go to chain stores which are actually very professional about everything. I just wish there were more organised back issue boxes and more retro issues. I know forbidden planet has an online back issue store, why are the in store back issues hidden away? Seriously one day I just said ‘to hell with it, I’m sitting on my ass and going throught these things’

I like women. And any store that is more welcoming to more women who share my love of comics and reading, I’m all for it.

Sir Manley Johnson

June 28, 2010 at 3:57 pm

My dream Comic shop actually isn’t a comic shop. Instead comic books are just one sort of reading material. One can also find all kinds of fringe literature, novels, biographies, cultural studies books, and the Fortean Times, along with old records and new music. it has creaky old wooden floorboards that hold the smells of everperson that has passed that way. The store has dark corners no one goes to, with cartons and boxes of products no one has purchased in 15 years. There is a cigar case in the glass counter and tins of tobacco. It also has an old fibre glass Coca-Cola clock lit from behind on a wall. there is a walk in beer fridge and all the beer is sold in stubbies (Canadians will know what I mean here). Comic books would be sold in spinner racks and would end up wrinkled, roughed up and rolled up and stuffed into back pockets. no bags and boards would be available in this store. That’s my store.

Love Jennifer and her comic book work, but not sure about all her recommendations….

And yes, late to the party, but that comic shop in Park Slope on 7th was pretty bad. Not sure what they have there now.

Also, for me, well variety rules. Then, maybe customer service. Comfort next (nice lighting, no grungy, basement feel) and location tops off, everything else is nice, but not necessary.

My comic shop has as part of its unofficial mission to appeal to females as much as males. More women than men actually work there. And it has occasional after hours “ladies only” nights. It’s a world class store… Strange Adventures, Halifax,NS, Canada.

One of my BIGGEST pet peeves about comic stores is that the staff act as though they DON’T want to sell you anything.

I feel like the whole store is someone’s personal collection on display for everyone to look at, but not buy. I agree with the author, pretty much every comic store I’ve been in could benefit from some simple retail marketing tactics. Coupons, sale days, clearance? If that Batman statue has been sitting on the shelf for 4 years and is covered in dust, obviously you should lower the price!

I could tell that this was a ridiculous article when you started referring to women as, “us”. When a man or a woman start referring to their gender as a whole, you know for certain that they are one of the ones most heavily caught in the asinine notion that all men or all women like certain things. All people are different, what you have between your legs does not determine the things you enjoy or the way that you act. I certainly agree that there are probably many comic shops that look down on women, or are perhaps even freaked out by their presence, and i empathize with that, I do not, however, think that a comic shop should remove zombie posters because they “creep us girls out”. Any women reading this should find this over generalization offensive and see it for what it is, a huge step backwards in female equality being performed by closed-minded females.

…wow, talk about perpetuating stereotypes. I’m a woman and while I think a clean, well-lit, inviting space and decent customer service would appeal to ANY comic buyer most of the rest just leaves me rolling my eyes.

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