As Anthony mentioned a few months ago he and I constitute The Harry Kremer Retailer Award committee. The criteria are presented at the site and are straightforward, but it also comes down to personal experiences. The criteria for judging includes:
- Support of a wide variety of innovative material
- Overall appeal of the store
- Community activity
- Adherence to standard ethical business practices
I’ve said it in the past but it’s worth repeating that a great local comic shop isn’t the same thing as a Harry Kremer Retailer Award comic shop. For me that comes down to community activity, item four in the five points of judging criteria. The other four points are important as well, but promoting itself and the medium make a shop stand out as an example of what a comic shop should be. Outreach, bringing comics to the community through promotion, local events, fundraising, donations, and much more are not only furthering comics but wonderfully self serving in getting the shop’s name out and about.
The internet is a daily part of most of our lives, and every retailer should have a strong online presence. I should be able to go to a retailer’s website and be greeted with what they have to offer and how I can get it. The days of getting into a new city and flipping to the used books section in the yellows pages is over. For most people if someone mentions a new place you search for it, bring up their website and make a first impression decision.
Once at the store you’re going to judge it from the outside in, so signage and a clean presentation count. Walking into the door and receiving a greeting make you feel welcome and invited. Is the retail environment set up with displays and signs to catch your eye and draw you where you want to be. How do the walls and shelves present themselves: clean, organized, accessible. Is the store well lit and comfortable to read in. Are the products within reach and are the comics and books open and thumbable. Are the latest comics and books in an area that promotes the new material or are they marked as new. Does anyone ask if they can help you find anything. Can the employees recommend or suggest material based on age, similar interests and previously enjoyed material. Once a purchase decision has been made are other similar items suggested. Does the cash area or receipt clearly state the store’s purchase and return policies. Does the store offer a pull or hold service, and do they offer any rewards to repeat customers.
In other words, did the store and staff make the shopping experience worth your time and money. And was there an overall experience created before and after you were in the store, and a satisfaction achieved that will take you there again.