First off, thanks for making 2010 another successful year for me.
For me, 2010 was a crazy year. Most of it is actually a blur. These last 4 months certainly drowned out the first 8. I do remember Free Comic Book Day being a hoot, but beyond that not so much.
As you all know, I decided to leave the New Dimension Comics fold back in August. I was prepared for a fight, but it went far more peacefully than I ever expected. So, kudos to Todd on that. Since that time, everything changed for me. Hopefully you didn’t see a change other than lots of cool things going on. The big change for me was being able to step out from behind the counter and finally be able to say “Yes, this is MY store!” I am very proud of the store. It is exactly what I always wanted in a comic book store. Open space, stuff everywhere you look and a big selection.
Is it perfect? Well, no. My sheer lack of tidiness and organizational skills will keep that from ever really happening. Someday you may actually be able to see the floor in the corner by the counter. Someday. But, overall, I am happy with the selection I have. When I started, I had no idea how many comics and trades there were. I always saw the Top 300 Comics list and had not ever heard of the bottom half. As it stands now, I have room for 616 titles on my racks (and 56 kids titles in the All Ages section). My original 4 half full 7 foot bookcases for trades have grown to 15 full and 2 half full plus all of the (near collapsing from the weight) rolling racks.
Statues have ebbed and flowed, but I try to keep a pretty good selection on hand. Pricing is causing me to limit my ordering on them at this point. They sell great at $150. Not so much at $250. But I still have more than most any store around.
Gaming is the one area that I continue to struggle with. It is not my forte. Part of me says get rid of the board games and use that shelving for something else. But another part of me wants to grow that department. Again, my biggest problem is lack of knowledge. The specter of market doom and gloom I keep reading about on the internet (more on that to follow) tells me to keep my options open, to have a more diverse product line, so that if comics do stumble, I have something else to lean back on. (I always laugh when I read the internet intelligentsia stating that print comics are dead and smart stores will diversify. My thought is always “I’m a comic book store. What am I supposed to diversify too? This is my niche.”) So, I am going to fire up the Friday Night Magic again (in a better planned manner) and I am thinking about doing a Board Game Night. If anybody would like to help with either of these projects, I am open.
I am also going to get Book Club going again. I really just need to sit down with a calendar and plan out the year. February is looking like a mess for me (going to Dallas in the middle of the month of for my first industry function as Pittsburgh Comics. Kinda excited about that one.) I also want to start an End of the Month Roundtable, where we sit around and talk about what we did and did not like of that month’s offerings. I am also planning on getting some recording equipment so that we can make a podcast out of these discussions.
The reason the end of the year was a blur was, of course, the name change. Just coming up with the name took a while (seems easy doesn’t it), then a logo, website, sign… Planning the relaunch party, a couple unexpected but really cool and successful signings and everything else pretty much absorbed my thoughts and time. But it was a blast.
So I am now looking forward to 2011 and what it will all entail. I have no big plans at this point. Mostly, I am going to try to get a better grip on the store and all that goes along with it.
– Better (tighter) inventory control.
– Better and more frequently changing displays.
– Less clutter (yeah right).
– More going on with the tables on the other side, or maybe even their elimination.
– More in-store events
– Read more comics (it seems easy, I know, but I have fallen off badly)
o Every time I have really liked something and recommended it, the result has been quite favorable, so I definitely want to do more of that
o So, if you see me sitting in a red chair reading, know that I am doing it for you
I am going to end with some random thoughts.
The big buzzword this year was DIGITAL. It was going to save comics. It was going to kill print. Then the iPad came. The SAVIOR. It was going to put me out of business. It was the game changer. Well, that may very well happen in the future. But right now its neat. Its another way of doing things. But I don’t see it putting me out of business yet.
The other big deal this year was price increases. Marvel jumped many of their books to $3.99. And stupidly said in public that is was only to see what the market could bear. Well, the market couldn’t bear $3.99 so now many books are coming back down. DC decided to bring everything back down starting in January, so that is good news. We’ll have to see what Marvel decides to do. Personally, I felt it was too big of a jump. Had they gone to $3.25, I doubt there would have been a word said. Instead they kind of poisoned the well. Now people will look warily at the next price hike.
DC did some major restructuring of its staff and brands. Wildstorm is gone and something is going on with Vertigo. How will this all shake out? No clue. But it is something to keep an eye on
The biggest thing I would love to see from the Big 2 is a scaling down of the lines and an increase in quality stories. Stop the random one-shot or tie-in mini-series and put out better books. You can’t tell me that the market was demanding Spider-Man vs Vampires. People shy away from them because of the glut. If it was a really great story people would have bought it. But everyone knew it was a cash grab by Marvel. And DC does it too. Rather than a 5th Deadpool title, how about some offbeat book that no one knows about. Put the effort into that. SHIELD (the Beast one) may have succeeded if there wasn’t such a horrible glut on the shelves right now. People may have stuck with Doom Patrol or tried THUNDER Agents if all of their money wasn’t going to keeping up with Batman.
For all of the people that are saying that print is dead, for me, New Comics sales overall dollar-wise were up 14.6% from last year, while Graphic Novel sales were only up by .09%. What that means, I don’t know, but the comic book is not dead, at least not here.
My overall sales were up almost 11% over last year, so I must be doing something right. Previous growth, I told myself, was because I was new, but I am now into my 4th year and its still going up. I did have my first 2 months where I did not beat the prior year in a month to month comparison, so that was bad. But both months, it was less than $1000 each time. Scarily for me, it was September and October, right after I left New Dimension. But the ship has righted itself.
The biggest percentage growth area for me this year was back issues that had an astounding 114% increase from 2009. That is a very good sign for me. I’m sure having more space for them with the expansion certainly has helped.
So, once again thanks to everyone for making 2010 another wonderful year. We all had fun (I know I did) and we’ll see what kind of surprises I can throw your way in 2011.