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Alabama comic store seeks a little help to expand space

99-issues

A little more than a year after it opened its doors, Mobile, Alabama, retailer 99 Issues Comics & Gaming has run into a problem: It’s outgrown its space.

When it opened in March 2013, the store carried just 99 titles to complement its name — yes, it’s a reference to the Jay-Z song — but within months that number had grown to more than 200 new releases, plus a selection of back issues. Add to that an area for playing video games, display cases and a desire to hold more in-store artist signings and, well, you can imagine things get a bit crowded — so much so that owner Chris Barnett says he loses money on every event.

In hopes of alleviating that problem, Barnett has turned to Indiegogo to raise $5,000, half of what he needs to expand the store. The rest will come out of his own pocket.

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Pennsylvania retailer seeks donations for charity auction

wadescomicmadness

Wade Shaw, owner of Wade’s Comic Madness in Levittown, Pennsylvania, is looking for donations for an auction to benefit one of his customers.

“Our longtime customer and friend Mike Pacenski is going through a terrible situation, as his 6-month-old daughter Willa has been diagnosed with leukemia,” he said in an email to CBR. “To assist with their mounting bills, on May 3 we will be running silent auctions, raffling prize baskets and selling ‘Team Willa’ wristbands all day, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the family.”

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Omaha comic store damaged by fire reopening at new location

Dragon's Lair owner Bob Gellner, stocking racks at the new location

Dragon’s Lair owner Bob Gellner, stocking racks at the new location

An Omaha, Nebraska, comic store damaged late last month in a fire will reopen Wednesday at a new location about seven blocks away.

The blaze broke out Feb. 23 at 8316 Blondo St., which had housed the main location of Dragon’s Lair Comics & Games since it opened in 1976, causing about $300,000 in damage to the two stores on the first floor and the five apartments upstairs. An estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of Dragon’s Lair’s inventory was damaged by smoke or water.

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Teen with Down syndrome launches comics vending machine

romberger

Here’s an inspirational story to help start off your day: CBS 3 Philadelphia spotlights Chris Romberger, a 19-year-old with Down syndrome and autism who’s not only doing well at his job at Villanova University’s student cafeteria, he’s even started his own business — with a custom-made comic book vending machine.

When Romberger, a Spider-Man fan, was taken to a comic store by job coach Chris Haas, he instantly loved it. However, couldn’t afford to open one of his own, so he and Haas came up with an alternative: a vending machine that operates under the banner of Comic Man Comics and Books.

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In this Toronto comic store, even the coffee cups wear masks

silver snail-drink sleeves

Toronto’s Silver Snail is celebrating its partnership with The Black Canary Espresso Bar (located inside the comic store) by giving away limited-edition “cup masks” to the first 200 people who stop by today for a comic book and coffee.

As you can see from the photo above, the cup sleeves feature close-ups of such characters as Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man. And they’re not all Marvel characters, either: You can get a look at Catwoman and Harley Quinn below.

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Ontario store gives free comics to A students

big b comicsBig B Comics in Hamilton, Ontario, has a terrific-sounding initiative to help foster literacy, and comics reading, among students.

As the CBC reports, between now and spring break in March, students in grades kindergarten to 12 can bring their report cards to the flagship store and get a free comic from the Big B back-issue bins for each A. It’s an annual program called, fittingly enough, “Free Comics For A’s,” which also rewards those students at the end of the school year June who have shown an improvement in their grades.

“We’ll find some reason to give them a free comic book,” Nicole Cartwright, the store’s assistant manager, told the CBC.

The Big B website also emphasizes the dedication of the Ontario retail chain — there are also locations in Barrie and Niagara Falls — to education: There’s a “Library Resources” section that highlights reasons for using comics as educational tools, provides a glossary of terms and recommends age-appropriate titles.

Omaha comics store suffers water, smoke damage in building fire

dragons lairA fire on Sunday caused about $300,000 in damage to a building in Omaha, Nebraska, that houses one of the two locations of Dragon’s Lair Comics & Games. According to the retailer, the store suffered “lots of water and smoke damage.”

The Omaha World-Herald reports the blaze at 8316 Blondo St. began about 10 a.m. in Treasure Mart Collectibles, operated by the building’s owner, and followed a pipe into the attic. No one in either of the stores or in the five apartments on the second floor was injured. The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.

The Dragon’s Lair Facebook page directs customers to the store’s location in the nearby Millard neighborhood while the Blondo Street shop is closed.

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Wow Cool and Alternative Comics open California store

wow cool-alternative

Wow Cool‘s Marc Arsenault, who in 2012 purchased Alternative Comics, has opened an indie comics store in Cupertino, California.

Called the Wow Cool | Alternative Comics Bookstore and Newsstand, the shop specializes in small-press and self-published comics, graphic novels, ‘zines and art books. It also carries vinyl and CDs from local music labels, as well magazines like Juxtapoz, Wax Poetics and Lucky Peach.

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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.”

Mail Order Comics files for bankruptcy, owing Diamond $325,000

mail order comicsFollowing reports late last month of fulfillment problems, Mail Order Comics has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, seeking to liquidate the nearly decade-old business.

In documents filed last week in federal bankruptcy court in Omaha, Nebraska, the retailer lists $45,000 in assets and $919,000 in debt, of which $325,000 is owed to Diamond Comic Distributors.

Signs of trouble with Mail Order Comics became apparent last month when customers began complaining on the store’s now-deleted Facebook page about unfulfilled orders and website troubles. Discount Comic Book Service quickly stepped in to fulfill all orders.

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Meltdown becomes first comic store to take Bitcoin

meltdown logoMeltdown Comics & Collectibles on Thursday became the first brick-and-mortar comic store to accept Bitcoin, the much-discussed digital currency transferred from person to person over the Internet.

The news arrives courtesy of the cryptocurrency website Spelunk.in, which participated in the Los Angeles store’s first transaction (for the record, it was for The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes).

“We at Meltdown like technology and like to move with it when possible,” general manager Francisco Dominguez told the site. “The thought of some magical money that’s not being spent and that I can accept to sell product was mindblowing. So it was a no-brainer that i had to jump on this new currency. [...] Brick-and-mortar/mom-and-pop shops are closing as digital takes over paper print. Hopefully this new way of bringing revenue in to a business will help keep them/us alive.”

He said he hopes to offer Bitcoin users incentives, including discounts, swag and special events.

Commercial use of Bitcoin is still small — as of late November, only about 1,000 physical locations worldwide accepted  it — but there’s a sizable speculator market, leading to a volatile exchange rate.

Retailer at center of ‘Powerpuff Girls’ dust-up issues open letter

powerpuff girls6

Dennis L. Barger Jr., the retailer who last week publicly criticized the “sexualized” nature of Mimi Yoon’s Powerpuff Girls #6 variant, leading Cartoon Network to withdraw the cover, has released an open letter in which he calls upon the comics industry to police itself, and to keep film studios and television networks out of the decision-making process.

The remarks from Barger, co-owner of  Wonderworld Comics in Taylor, Michigan, follow a sharp response by Yoon in which the artist criticized him, in part, because “he brought up kids and used protecting kids and kids’ perspective in his reasoning/excuse.”

In his open letter, in which he touches upon a dwindling readership and the need to reach a younger audience, Barger writes, “I will not discuss why this cover upset me and this is the last time I care to talk about it, aside from this. I did not feel that it was appropriate for the cover of a book aimed at young children, especially young girls, and many people agreed with me. A Hollywood corporate machine like Warner Bros and Cartoon Network would not have pulled it unless enough people saw that this was inappropriate in some way.”

Read Barger’s full letter below:

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Stolen Flintstones car returned to Sacramento comics store

Store owner Dave Downey, now with TWO Flintmobiles

Store owner Dave Downey, now with TWO Flintmobiles

The replica of the Flintstones’ car stolen last month from in front of World’s Best Comics and Toys has been recovered by police and returned to the Sacramento, California, store.

According to the Merced Sun-Star, surveillance video from a nearby bowling alley captured footage of three high school-age suspects loading the 200-pound vehicle — it’s actually a wooden raft with two metal 55-gallon drums instead of wheels — into the back of a truck. That enabled Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies to track the Flintmobile to a ranch in El Dorado County.

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Comic store offers reward for return of stolen Flintstones car

flintstones mobile

Dave Downey in the Flintmobile

Sacramento retailer Dave Downey is offering a reward for the return of the latest addition to his store, World’s Best Comics and Toysa replica of the Flintstones’ car.

He tells Fox 40 the Flintmobile — a gift from a customer, who made it for a water parade — had been on display outside his Watt Avenue shop for just two weeks before it went missing over the weekend. Stealing the vehicle wouldn’t have been an easy task, either: It’s actually a 200-pound wooden raft with two metal 55-gallon drums instead of wheels; it’s meant to float, not roll.

“The perpetrators did not just get in and pedal away,” Downey says. “It is pretty terrible. How can you steal a Flintstones car?”

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Waterstones tweaks Amazon’s drone plans, unveils O.W.L.S.

waterstones-owls

As funny as the Amazon Drone Twitter account is, the best response to Sunday’s big revelation that the online retail giant is developing delivery by unmanned aerial vehicles has to be from Waterstones.

On Monday, the U.K. bookseller announced O.W.L.S., the Ornithological Waterstones Landing Service, which will utilize owls to bring books to customers’ doors. As Waterstones Press Manager Jon Owls (ahem) explains in the video below, “O.W.L.S. consists of a fleet of specially trained owls that, either working individually or as an adorable team, will be able to deliver your package within 30 minutes of you placing your order.”

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