We previously discussed the type of comic book shop you wanted, and what areas you would focus on. With seed capital, retailer accounts with distributors and a retail location you are ready to put your dreams into a physical space: your store.

Location, cost and square footage have narrowed your choices down, but what to do within that space is completely at your control. Think of all the comic shops you’ve visited and try to determine what were the parts of the store layout you enjoyed. Then think of other types of retail stores you’ve visited such as book stores, music stores, gaming stores and toy stores. Now think of busy and successful stores and how they differed. Each has elements you may want to incorporate into your overall plan.

You’ll need a cash and customer service counter and you’ll need shelving to house your comics, books and other merchandise; how you choose to implement them goes into your overall design. Do you want a sleek modern look with clean lines and subdued colours, bright and fun primary colours amid low shelves and walls of pegboard, dark wood and brick walls amongst leather couches, or something in between?

If you’re selling weekly comic books then you’ll need some way to display them. Most shops use custom shelves to store comic books in tiered shelving to allow the title and top 1/3 to be visible while offering enough shelving to keep the books from flopping over and getting damaged.

Bookshelves for graphic novels and trade paperbacks need to hold your inventory but also display your inventory: having books cover out draws the eye. Row after row of book spines hold more per shelf but don’t encourage handling and browsing.

Children’s material needs to be on shelving and wall pegs low enough that they can see and handle the items. Same goes for all product: putting material on high shelves discourages shoppers from seeing and reaching those items. If you want to utilize wall space put excess inventory or pricey items out of reach.

There is a science to retailing and it has been covered extensively in thousands of books. Here are a few techniques that can be used effectively to encourage sales.

  • Red encourages people to stop, yellow draws people in and orange makes people feel comfortable.
  • Putting a product in someone’s hand encourages them to buy: put price stickers on the back of merchandise customers can handle.
  • Have your layout move to the right: people naturally look left and then right so allow them to flow in that direction. Positioning your cash counter to the left close to the door allows customers to see you first.
  • Have an engaging sales display immediately upon entering, but make sure it doesn’t block the customer’s view of the store.