As a local comic shop you will most likely end up running two types of store events: Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) and creator signings. Let’s look at the logistics of each.
In general both will require something your store most likely doesn’t have: a decent amount of empty space at the back of your store. You’ll need a free open space to either house your stacks of FCBD books or a table and space around it for your creator to sit and a line to form. Either way putting this at the back of the store forces customers to walk through everything you have for sale twice, going and coming, to entice additional sales.
Store events serve two purposes: driving in new customers and giving back to the community at large. From a strictly dollars and sense point of view both FCBD and creator signings are money losing affairs. For Free Comic Book Day comics are not free for the retailer: they cost on average $0.25 per copy. Creator signings can be just the cost of lunch up to travel, accommodation, meals and a signing fee: it depends how big a creator you’re dealing with.
Free Comic Book Day has become the main public relations event for comics retailing in North America, and it is a must for participation. There are a wide range of titles available, for all ages, and cost on average $0.25 per book. For your first year a modest investment in the event would allow exposure and a chance to ride the wave. It also allows you to give out comics that otherwise you couldn’t sell, perhaps bonus copies of Marvel titles purchased to get a lower cost or the dregs of collections you’ve purchased. These can boost your free selection but can’t replace buying the FCBD titles since they’re widely advertised.
Creator signings are an opportunity for your store to have someone in store to sign books, meet fans and if they’re an artist do free sketches for customers. As mentioned this can vary greatly in cost, but starting small by asking a local creator to come by for an afternoon is a good way to get your feet wet and see how the process unfolds in your store. It’s a good idea to have a stack of the creator’s works available at the table for customers to purchase and have signed, plus the extras can be signed in the downtime and be an exclusive for later sales.
In either case additional staffing and clear lines of sight become more important than ever. Any store event will bring in more customers than normal and they have to be assisted, monitored and processed to get the full benefit.