Robot 6

Bergen Street Comics to stop racking most Marvel and DC titles

bergen_logo_color_smallWell-regarded Brooklyn retailer Bergen Street Comics has announced it will stop shelving most monthly titles from DC and Marvel. However, customers will still be able to subscribe to or preorder those books through the Park Slope store.

Writing on Twitter, co-owner Tom Adams explained the decision “Will enable us to better serve our customers. Strength of self contained, creator controlled comics will let us move away from double shipping, editorially driven, artist-swapping, inconsistent, tied into events/gimmicks comics. Trying to keep this a going concern/think long term.”

Since its opening in March 2009, Bergen Street has developed a reputation as a supporter of independent and self-published comics, and has played host to numerous creator signings and art shows.

Elaborating on the announcement, Adams said the continued shelving of DC and Marvel’s output “just doesn’t make financial sense” to the store. “Specific to our shop and my personal interests/passions,” he tweeted. “Nothing to do with other shops/state of comics in general. [We] represent such an insignificant amount of Big 2 sales this should mean nothing to anyone other than our regulars.”

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20 Comments

Makes sense for a small independent business to make efforts to cater more specifically to their customer base.

When more retailers figure out there’s absolutely no need to rack a large percentage of the crap churned out by the big 2 every month, it’s game over.

I am behind this 100%.

I love titles by both publishers, but clearing out the two biggest ‘shouters’ from the racks will cut down on the hype & flashing neon, allow readers to ponder & consider as they investigate the shelves, and give a true test to which genres/creators drive the market.

That being said, ‘good’ comics can be found from every publisher. The freedom of choice is always best, both by the owner and what he/she opts to carry, and by the consumer and what he/she decides to buy.

I don’t know. Comics are such a niche in general, that it seems extremely risky to cater to the niche of a niche.

If you have the customer base to support this then i’m all for it. I think in a market like NYC, its easier to carve out a sub-niche and i love that this store is taking the risk and following their passions. I hope if nothing else, this encourages stores in other markets to expand their creator owned offerings, and put a focus on that. The tide is changing, and we’re consistently seeing that the great work is coming from the creator owned world.

I’m going to assume their main income does not come from comics at all. For example the Newbury Comics chain could drop all comics completely and be fine because aside from the name they aren’t really a comics shop they are a pop-culture/music store.

I like Bergen Street, but I’m kind of sick of “indie” stores looking to distance themselves from superhero titles. I like that I can get a lot of alt comics at Bergen St. but I also usually pick up at least one superhero title whenever I visit a store. If Bergen Street stops stocking Marvel/DC, It’s going to be harder to justify coming in to their store.

To me, this is just straight survival. The independent comic book sub-industry has good and bad just like Marvel and DC, but the natural attrition isn’t allowed to take place for them with the burden of endless variants, multi-book arcs that don’t actually advance a story, and the like. The indies go away because there’s no room for them, not because of their quality.

I like Marvel and DC. They are institutions. But their business practices are deplorable. Rather than glutting racks with a dozen mediocre Spider Man titles, why not focus on making just one great title that people are proud to read and are enriched by? Why must every book be a glorified propaganda piece for the eventual movie tie-in?

How many damn Ant-Man series are we going to have to live with in only a few months? Good on you Bergen Street for proving even the shops are fed up with the strongarming.

Keith: Wrong assumption. This is a small, independently owned and operated comics shop that only sells comics. It’s not the type of pop-culture store you’re describing.

What happens when a young kid wants a Spider-Man comic? “Sorry kid, you should have known you wanted it two months ago”.

@Jared – Any comic shop that’s even half good that I’ve been to, if there wasn’t something they had in store and/or couldn’t likely get, they’d recommend I check out another nearby (if there was one) to see if I might find it there. If this shop did that, being in New York, there’d certainly be other stores such a customer could go to. Moreover, just because they won’t be carrying new Marvel/ DC stuff on the shelves doesn’t mean they might not still have a box or more full of something like Spider-Man somewhere in store. (Plus they may have other all-ages books in store they they can direct them to as other possible alternatives if they get rid of all their older Marvel/ DC stuff.)

I think it’s a bit of a ballsy move on their part (especially to come right out and say it publicly), but one that simply seems to make sense — more than any of us, they’re going to know their own customers and what they tend to buy (or not buy), and so they’re are picking what they do accordingly. Hopefully if this ever does seem to have a negative impact on their customer base and/or bottom line that they’ll have the financial resources left to change their decision again.

It’s a ballsy move no doubt about it. However, if they take enough of a financial hit that it endangers their business I’m sure they can start selling Marvel/DC again. Will they still be selling Vertigo?

I’ve never been in this store so don’t know if what I’m about to write applies there but the truth is that most retailers basically tolerate the big 2 monthlies as a perceived necessary evil. Some I’ve spoken to feel that the only real benefit to carrying monthlies at all is to help drive regular foot traffic. In reality, monthlies are not the means by which a retailer keeps his doors open. From a publishing standpoint, over the last decade or longer it has been the collected trades that have played a much larger role in helping to keep the market afloat. Mr. Adams doesn’t say anything about no longer stocking trades from DC/Marvel in the store. Only monthlies. If that’s the case he can still cater to a significant portion of superhero fans who prefer to wait until stories have been collected (people like me). This is probably a move that a lot of retailers wish they felt comfortable making and I’m sure they will be watching to see what degree of success comes from it. And he CAN be successful as long as he realizes that one doesn’t have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. At the risk of sounding like I’m promoting, Blastoff Comics here in LA is a good example of a successful retailer who rethought his business model along similar lines. While he didn’t eliminate them, he considerably scaled back the amount of monthlies he carries and opted to cater to a more upscale/sophisticated clientele with a boutique-type store geared more toward the serious collector (higher end new collectibles, Gold/Silver age comics displayed like works of art, plenty of trades [new and old] and original comic art, etc). That doesn’t mean it’s stuffy or snobby as some in other forums have suggested about Bergen Street. On the contrary it’s still a very bright, fun and welcoming store for adults AND kids and the owner has an over-abundance of love for superhero comics that he’s willing to share with all his customers. It’s not elitist in the slightest. Last I checked he was having great success with this model. While I personally hate to see the death of monthlies, this approach significantly reduces the reliance on sheer volume. I wish Mr. Adams the best with his experiment.

It’s a great store, and indies and graphic novels are very prominent there. I’m not in Brooklyn often, but I’ve been looking forward to going back ever since my first visit.

Every retailer picks and chooses what they think will or won’t sell in their store — it’s just that for a lot of stores, that picking and choosing starts with a default to almost all DC and Marvel. In this case, they’re choosing not to tie up their money in those universes, instead focusing on other books they expect their customers want. I’m sure they know their clientele well enough to have a good idea what they can sell to them.

I love this business model and believe that it’s the wave of the future. There’s a ton of indie stuff out there and some of it is very good. Sure there’s a lot of crap but you could say that about the cape titles as well. I buy less than a hand full of the monthly floppies and almost none of those are marvel or DC unless you count vertigo. I do however buy trades and hardcovers of the big 2 if they are recommended by someone I trust. I would much rather enjoy a complete story than wait months for it to come to a conclusion. And like it or not digital books are here to stay. Pads are just going to get more popular so why fight it? All the publishers know this which is why they all produce digital comics. I wouldn’t worry about TPBs & hardcovers ever disappearing but I can see an eventual end to the floppies.

When you have to deal with non returnable inventory the sane choice is to stock only books that are actually good. The article says ‘most titles’ not all. I’d imagine that they will continue to sell stuff like Batman and Hawkeye and that’ all to the could considering that the top third of the new 52 is still 17 books, and I think Marvel has more books out than DC.

We have a big, big comic book store here in a smaller. Outside of Dallas TX

Twice in three months I went in to browse, and there is a long, long wall – with dozens of –

what are these, Kid books – My ‘Pretty Pony’? More Star Wars series and drek? Spider-man characters? Reprints of THE MAXX [December 2014] – Who can find any comics that they really want that are REALLY original and NEW in the midst of these dozens of books, with the covers that the look of digital/Anime-looking artwork?

SB

( @ Dunphy — that was well-put “Rather than glutting racks with a dozen mediocre Spider Man titles, why not focus on making just one great title that people are proud to read …”

We have a big, big comic book store here in a slightly smaller city; outside of Dallas, TX.

Twice in three months I went in to browse, and there is a long, long wall – with dozens of –
what are these? Kid books; ‘My Pretty Pony’? More Star Wars series and drek? Spider-man characters? Reprints of THE MAXX [December 2014] – Who can find any comics that they really want that are REALLY original and NEW in the midst of these dozens of books, with the covers that the look of digital/Anime-looking artwork?

SB

I am a Bergen Street regular and I love the store. Nice selection and a friendly staff I buy a few of the big 2 monthlies from them that are the bigger titles, and the rest is independent just because I think creator owned work gets to tell stories the way the writers want them to be.

I am not sure that I will notice when the B list big 2 stuff isn’t on the shelf since I am not really a buyer already and it seems like those who do buy those at Bergen Street have a sub service and would not be looking to the shelves. I would be worried if they said they won’t order them, but since they seem to love and appreciate their customers, I can’t fathom them taking such a position.

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