Please also check out our series So You Wanna Open A Comic Shop.
Have you ever thought of owning your own comic book shop?
The notion crossed my mind years and years ago, when my local comic book shop closed down, and I thought I could do a better job. Before I got in too deep into the idea, another store opened up and I abandoned the notion of opening my own store.
This past week a co-worker of mine found a posting on Kijiji about a local comic book store that was selling their complete contents and store name. My co-worker said “hey, you could start your own comic book shop, and it only costs $50,000.00”.
I haven’t done much research into this yet (because I have no interest in opening my own store now), but I know it is going to take a lot more capital than just 50 grand.
According to the ad, for $50,000.00 you would get “All contents for Sale including books, counters and anything else you would like, (including) very large collection of back issues.” The store name is also included, but I will get into that one later.
Sure this sounds like a good deal (I guess). But you don’t have a location to sell the comics in yet. This sale is just for the contents of the store. The building itself isn’t a part of this deal. Once all these goodies are in your possession, then you have to find the right place to have your store. And that alone can be a real challenge.
You need to determine what your customer base will be. How will they get to your store? Do you want your customers to drive to your location? Or will they take city transit?
After you find the right location, then you need to pay for a lease. Insurance. You will needs lots of insurance! I highly recommend using California Contractors Insurance – Insurance for Contractors in CA to handle all of your insurance needs. You will want to be sure all your bases are covered before opening up a comic shop, as fun and exciting as it is.
Oh wait… I forgot one more thing. Staff. After you start selling your comic books and stuff, either you need to do it all yourself, or get someone to help you. People don’t work for free, so you have to pay them. And don’t forget about yourself. You need to collect a wage too.
As I said I didn’t do much research into this, but these are just a few things that I could think of off the top of my head. Already there is a bunch of money tied up into this investment, and you haven’t even sold one comic book yet.
Let me get back to the store name issue. Sometimes it is worth taking the name of the store. If they have a great reputation, and a well established customer base, keeping the store name the same is the easiest way to keep those customers coming in. But there are also benefits to a new name. Fresh start. Fresh approach.
I don’t want to discourage you from your dream of starting your own comic book shop. I just wanted to let you know there are many things to take into consideration. Make sure you do your homework, and have a clear business plan before you get in over your head.
There was an excellent string on Collector’s Society Message Boards years ago on this topic. One of the commenters noted just about everything that was needed to realistically start up a store and the costs. I printed it out at the time, the comment was so well thought out. (I no longer know if I have it and if I needed it again I would go to the site and search it there).
Today, I am sure things have changed. I am certainly not an accountant or even a frequent visitor to comic stores. In Toronto there seem to be a couple that are making a good go of it. Paradise seems to do business as a collector’s comic store. The Beguiling seems to do business as a outre comic store. For both of them, if you want what they got you gotta go there. Comic Lounge has presented itself as a school and lounge with a printing company in the back. Again, they are looking for a niche. As for Silver Snail, who can guess? Ron Van L had a broad base comic shop but sold it. I don’t know why. Guessing or paying attention to rumours may be no more accurate than reading tea leaves.
I just came back from the Detroit Convention. There were a zillion comics and related products there. The dealers often don’t have stores and stores have to compete with them. I buy comics on ebay (and sell them, too). There is another ingredient in the mix.
And most important, comics are going out of style and have been since the late 1980’s (if not the mid 1940’s). Conversely, books on comics, Japanese comics, comic characters in film and computer games are now a pan cultural phenomenon.
I have been told that there are professional businessmen and there are hobbiests who want to make their hobby their life. I can see the guy who really loves comics and goes into it thinking, “Open the store, they will come,” losing his shirt.
Interesting and VERY in-depth article from Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics about opening a comic store.
I, too, have recently taken a look at the ebay route to sell some of my wares, and after calculating all the S/H costs and fees, I’m left wondering if it’s even worth it and that doesn’t even include monthly rent and utility fees, hiring employees, etc. Add those and I’m left wondering, ‘how can people make a living these days.’ It reminds me of people who get into the food industry – you do it because you love it, not because you’ll make money.
Best of luck to anyone who wants to open and run their own store. And for those who run one already, thank you. Thank you for all of your hard work and sacrifice to allow me a few minutes a day of escapism. You are greatly appreciated.
There are certainly many ups and downs to owning and running a comic book store – or in some cases owning and having someone run your comic book store for you while you work somewhere else during the day. I know I flirted with the idea of having one 20+ years ago, but never would have thought I’d end up doing just that, but here I am with a shop that has some niche-y elements. Rent, utilities, insurance, security, phone, internet, Diamond, self-publishers, et al. all want your money. Employee costs and supply costs eat away at your balance. People contact you every day about buying their stuff…
I’m sick of these get rich quick schemes! I need a plan that will make me tons of money and fast!
Really though, informative. I’ve heard many times that it takes at least $100,000 to open a business, but I wouldnt be surprised if that number is even higher
Comics would have made me rich, if I had kept them…..
“As I said I didn’t do much research into this, but these are just a few things that I could think of off the top of my head. ”
Why even write this post then?