What Does Your Payment Method Say About You? A Retailer Advises Comic Shop Customers

Brian Jacoby, a comic retailer at Secret Headquarters in Tallahassee, Florida, has been posting some etiquette tips for customers (via Brian Hibbs). The topics in the first column are pretty obvious, although I have known people who needed to be told: Don’t leave your store on the hook for your comics after you move or lose your job. Don’t cuss in public. Don’t harass the female clerks or customers. (This one turns into a discussion in the comments of whether an “accidental” brush-by grope is actually “sexual assault” by Florida law or just rude.)

Anyway, it’s the second column that got interesting to me. The first set of tips reminds a customer to keep their comic shop informed of their changing tastes. I’d suggest that this works best if the shop responds well to such updates. If you, as a shop manager, want to know when my tastes change, then make it easy for me to tell you. Don’t give me a guilt trip, don’t make fun of my likes/dislikes, don’t tell me “well, you’ll still have to pay for the next two issues!”, and don’t blame me for not wanting to buy bad comics. (I’m sure this shop doesn’t do that, but I have purchased from those who have.)

And then, at the end of the piece, comes the kicker. The writer wants to make the point that some methods of payment cost the retailer more than others, especially reward cards and American Express. That’s useful to know, as is the comment that it may differ by store. Then comes this:

My personal “Most Hated Credit Card” is the Amazon.com Visa. You earn points (that your LCS pays for) that can then be spent only at the one website that has done (and keeps doing) more to hurt the entire book business than any other.

Guess which card I like to use most because it pays me back most quickly and consistently? (Note: all my cards are reward cards, because why not? Why shouldn’t I pay myself a little back?) I didn’t realize I was being judged by clerks for giving them this piece of plastic instead of that one. Do you ever worry about such things when paying?


32 Responses to “What Does Your Payment Method Say About You? A Retailer Advises Comic Shop Customers”

  1. Ralf Haring Says:

    I have sometimes specifically chosen to pay with cash or debit card instead of credit card because I know the place/person I’m buying from gets a marginally bigger cut.

  2. Brian Hibbs Says:

    “why not? Why shouldn’t I pay myself a little back?”

    Except it is the retailer who is actually “paying you back” — the more rewards a card has, the more the person TAKING the card pays in fees.

    -B

  3. Johanna Says:

    Well, thanks, then! Although as I was pointing out, it’s moot in my case — I don’t have a non-rewards card I can use. (Even my debit has a kickback plan.) Or I could just use the card somewhere where they don’t give me any hassle over it, because they don’t see the logo — online.

  4. Ralf Haring Says:

    I wouldn’t expect an employee to even mention it to a customer unless they were specifically asked if they (the store) had a preference of payment methods. I didn’t read the other blog post as advocating that, just as kind of venting about it online instead of in person. The only real-world hassle he mentioned was in not accepting payment by check.

  5. Eric Rupe Says:

    “Do you ever worry about such things when paying?”

    Never. In fact, I’ve really stopped carrying cash once I graduated collage about three years ago and maybe carry a couple of ones, if that. Using a card is way to convenient for me to ever seriously consider going back to using cash. Plus, as a someone who isn’t a retailer, the charges from the card companies seem like a cost of doing business thing to me.

    While I’m not sure how useful it would be for LCSs, I’ve heard of smaller businesses giving small discounts to people who do pay in cash.

  6. Grant Says:

    I have to pay in cash so my wife doesn’t look at a bank statement and find out the obscene amount of money I spend on comics and trades.

  7. Ray Cornwall Says:

    Wow, a comics store mocking its customers. What a surprise. (And this is one reason I’ve been buying my comics through mail order for 8 years…)

    And if comics stores could learn to treat their customers one tenth as nice as Amazon treats them, maybe the Direct Market wouldn’t be in the toilet.

    (For the record, BTW, I use a PayPal Debit Card. Charges hit my checking account three days later. No chance of debt, no fees, and I get 1% back in cash every 30 days.)

  8. Thad Says:

    Yeah, mostly obvious stuff (I lost my regular job at the beginning of the year and dropped a bunch of books immediately, but made sure to pay for any books they’d already ordered), but the credit card thing is something I hadn’t put much thought into — I knew it cost retailers, of course, but didn’t really think about individual cards costing retailers different amounts. Course, my rewards card’s only 1% back, so hopefully it’s not in one of the higher brackets…

  9. Suzene Says:

    Cash more often than not, since I buy so few single-issue comics now that my weekly purchase is usually a good way to break a $10 for bus fare. Amazon gets the rest of my business quite simply 1) they’re cheaper and 2) because I’ve gotten better customer service from them than I have most LCS’s I’ve been in (though I do like the place I’m using now).

  10. Johanna Says:

    Eric, you reminded me of another reason to use cards: expense tracking. I can keep site of what I’m spending and where. Although as Grant says, maybe that’s a bad thing. (Although I hope he really isn’t lying to his wife about it.)

    Ray, I think you’re overreacting — I think Ralf has it right, this wasn’t mocking, just “here’s some things you might not know about being on the other side of the register.” I will think about using cash more often now at my local shop.

  11. Basque Says:

    I always pay in cash, but the reason is entirely selfish. I have a limited budget, and by only bringing the amount of money that I’m allowing myself to spend that week, I can ensure that I won’t go over that budget. With a card, it’s way too easy to just keep adding books and worry about the consequences later.

  12. Michelle Says:

    This actually is my LCS, and I promise that the proprietor is very friendly. I actually switched to him from another store for his willingness to order manga (gasp!) for a girl (gasp!).

  13. Augie De Blieck Jr. Says:

    Back in the day when I went to the comic shop every week, I tried to pay cash as often as possible, because I knew the retailer lost a couple of percent in credit card transaction fees. I wanted to help out. But if I didn’t hit the ATM on the way over, I’d use the credit card without guilt. And my retailer never gave me grief over it. I’m not sure if I had an Amazon card yet at that point, though it’s the only one I use now.

  14. Rob Says:

    The used bookstore I frequent has a sign taped to the counter about rewards cards. I understand that this is a real burden on small business owners, but at the same time, I am still buying from them on a regular basis. I don’t like that the credit companies force that expense on small business, but as a consumer I will ultimately do what’s in my best interest.
    My LCS is run by some pretty great folks. I like them a lot, which is why I still regularly buy issues, and go to their store instead of only getting discounted trades online.
    I could not care less if I am being judged based on my credit card. If someone hassles me I can stop giving them my business, but people’s thoughts and little signs don’t hurt me at all.

  15. Brian Jacoby from Secret Headquarters Tallahassee, Florida Says:

    Johanna, I do want to point out that while I name-checked Brian Hibbs in my article as someone who’s done some great articles on retailer math, he had nothing to do with the creating this article. (Except possibly as general inspiration. Everyone should read his stuff.)

    Ray Cornwall, did you actually read my articles? In no place did I mock any of my customers. In general, my customers are a head above the customers I’ve had in just about any other business I’ve run in the past.

    I have never refused to take a customer’s rewards card, nor even asked if they have another option. I bet most store owners have also never done that. That’s one reason why I brought it up. The more informed people are about their choices, the more THEY can make the decisions ON THEIR OWN about how they use their money.

  16. Johanna Says:

    The “via Brian” is just netiquette to indicate how I found out about your articles. I hope that wasn’t too confusing. I appreciate you sharing your perspectives, and I look forward to reading your next installment.

  17. JeffG Says:

    I generally pay by debit card, but it actually costs me 50 cents at the LCS to do so. Again its a tracking thing.

    I’ve switched over to a model where I order from Previews, filling in a spreadsheet with the title, page number, and cost. The total is automatically summed up so I know how much I’ll spend for that month’s comics (my LCS gives me a discount so its more a ceiling than anything) and I pay the full amount when I hand in my order sheet. So I’m out of pocket until the comic arrives, and I’m still waiting for a couple of titles ordered from the September Previews!

  18. Johanna Says:

    Oh, prepay… can be convenient for budgeting, but difficult to keep up with if a title gets cancelled or significantly delayed. I’m surprised to hear that shops are still doing that, since it’s quite a potential liability for them to hold onto customer money like that.

  19. Brian Jacoby from Secret Headquarters Tallahassee, Florida Says:

    Johanna, I figured it out when I saw on Brian’s site that he posted about it.

    I gave myself a V-8 style smack on the head when I saw it.

  20. ADD Says:

    Uh, why would a retailer accept credit cards to begin with if his margin is so razor thin that he has to bitch and moan every time a customer uses one? Seems to me the solution is to go cash-only, like drug dealers and pimps. Hmm…

  21. Johanna Says:

    Oh, don’t be rude, Alan. Someone might not get your sense of humor. As Brian said, he doesn’t complain to the customers, but he thought they might appreciate knowing the details.

    Brian, I edited the post to include your name to make the credits clearer. I should have searched harder for it in the first place before writing it up.

  22. Erica Says:

    I have never once in my entire life concerened myself with the payment method I choose in regards to how the *retailer* feels about it. If they don’t like a card, they are free to not accept it.

    If they don’t like my money in one form and thought to mention it to me, I’d be sure to feel free to spend it in some other form with a retailer who knew how to not drive away business.

  23. William George Says:

    I’d suggest going digital to save yourself all the bother. But since the industry is trying it’s passive aggressive best to strangle that infant in it’s crib it’s not much of an option for franchise lovers.

  24. Tara Tallan Says:

    I’m actually quite amazed by this news. I always thought it was the credit card company or bank that paid for the rewards, since they are the ones who are trying to convince you to use their card. When I worked in retail in a small bookstore– just as a sales clerk, admittedly, not the manager– I never got the impression that different Visa cards cost us anything beyond the standard transaction fee.

  25. Bill Williams Says:

    I can see why Amazon is the accidental arch-enemy of comics retailers. Personally, I think the minority of people who don’t live within an hour’s drive of a decent comic shop should get the chance to read the stuff.

    If anything, I see assorted comic shops listing product on Amazon competing for a buck. Consider the generic Avengers book in the link below.

    You’ll note, it is other comic shops killing each other on price. The Amazon listing is beat by a dozen stores that are undercutting them.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0785123687?condition=new

  26. Jennifer Hachigian Says:

    @Johanna – for what it’s worth, this site will show you the cost of a card’s interchange fees: http://truecostofcredit.com/

    @Tara – debit/credit cards charge an interchange fee to the merchant. This fee goes to the bank. With rewards cards, the card owner gets a chance to take part of this interchange fee. So a rewards card that charges 3% to the merchant might “reward” the customer with 2% cash-back.

    Most merchants (not just comic book dealers) cope with interchange fees by raising prices in their stores to cover the cost of the interchange fee.

  27. Steely Dan Says:

    It took me awhile to figure out how to respond to this posting. On the one hand, comic book fans (particularly those who shop at stores that specialize in super-hero comics) can be creepy, rude, and unpleasant. This is just a fact. I’ve shopped at comic book shops all across the country since the mid-1980s, and “those guys” are always there. That’s not the entire customer base by any means, but they are a sizable minority. So I sympathize with the retailer who felt the need to post these etiquette tips.

    That said, the original retailer post still comes across as being incredibly whiny. The creepy guys who frequent comic book shops are an ever-present minority, but they’re still a minority. Don’t lump me in with them by posting broad etiquette tips that the majority of your customer base already abides by.

    I’m an adult. I know how to act in public. When I go shopping I don’t like being told how I should and should not act. I already know this. I’m a grown-up. Other than being told that I have to wear a shirt and shoes, in no other retail establishment in any other industry do proprietors feel the need to lecture their customer base on how to act.

    I understand that the customer isn’t always right. But when I go into a retail establishment, I’m there to make a transaction. They have what I’m looking for and I give them my money so that I can take the product with me. And the retailer does everything possible to make the transaction process (from the time I walk into the store until the time I walk out) as easy, pleasant, and pleasurable as possible.

    It’s very simple. Except, with comic book shops it never is.

    I’m one of those people who buys most of his comics online now, mostly through Amazon. There is one very, very good comic book shop in my area called Big Planet Comics in the Washington, DC area. But I live in Baltimore, so a trip there is easily an hour each way. Because of that, I can only make it down there three or four times a year. It’s just not possible to go more frequently than that. But because they are so good at what they do I still go out of my way to get down there every three or four months, and I always walk out with at least a hundred dollars in books.

    There are at least a half dozen or so comic book shops in the Baltimore-metro area that I know about (there are probably more but I don’t know where they are). One of them, Atomic Books, is very good. But they’re more of an alternative/indie bookstore (comics and traditional prose books). That’s their specialty and they’re very good at it. When that’s what I’m looking for, I go there. For more traditional stuff from Marvel and DC, their selection is spotty (by design), so they’ll never be an all-purpose general audiences comic book shop. But again, that’s not the audience they’re going for.

    The other five or six comic book shops in the area are more traditional. They’re heavily skewed toward super-hero material, but about half those shops have a decent or better selection of indie books. And yet, all of those shops are terrible. Let me explain.

    As long as retailers are going to post their rules of etiquette for customers, then let me post my expectations as a customer for when I walk into a comic book shop. These expectations are very simple. Almost every other retail establishment abides by them. But generally speaking, comic book shops do not (there are exceptions, some of which I’ve already noted above).

    1. Layout and Design:

    Others have said this before, but comic book shops need to understand just how important aesthetics are in any retail shop. If shopping in your store is uncomfortable, I’m not coming back. And I say this as a man in my mid-30s (i.e., the typical comic book customer). So do yourselves a favor and hire an interior designer. Get rid of the clutter. Don’t pack the store with so much product that it’s literally difficult for more than one person to move around in the store at a time. Empty space is good. Wide aisles are good. Take down all the crap from your walls. Most of your customer base today are adults, so don’t decorate your store like a 14-year-old boy’s bedroom:

    — If you’re going to hang posters on the wall, how about framing and matting them.

    — Take down the toys. If you’re going to sell toys, display them attractively, make them easy to reach, and don’t have them dominate the store. If I want to shop at a toy store, I’ll go to a toy store.

    — Make an effort to paint your store an attractive color. Buy some nicer shelving and fixtures (Borders is closing a lot of stores and selling everything, so why not try to buy some of their shelving which is 100-times more attractive than the shelving in most comic book stores).

    2. Signage:

    If you’re going to put up signage, how about making it attractive and professional. Don’t just throw up whatever ads publishers send you. Why not hire a graphic designer to design signage and ads specifically for your store? Go into any retail clothing store at any mall. See how attractive and professional the signs are which tell you about sales and special, or direct you through the store? Custom signage can go a long way toward giving your store a unique identity.

    3. If you’ve got a store front window, don’t put up a Superman logo or a Wolverine cutout:

    There’s nothing wrong with super-heroes. They’re very popular in our culture right now with audiences of all ages due to recent movie adaptations. But just because there’s no stigma associated with adults enjoying super-heroes anymore doesn’t mean that comic book shops should live up to the stereotype that comic books = super-heroes. The medium is more diverse than that. And when you put a giant Superman logo in your storefront, the message you’re sending is that people (like me) who are interested in more than super-heroes are not welcome.

    4. Pricing:

    Comic book shops need to decide if they are more like bookstores or more like antique shops:

    — When I walk into an antique shop I expect to pay more than the original suggested retail price.

    — But when I walk into a bookstore I expect to pay suggested retail price or less.

    Comic book shops try to have it both ways and it’s a confusing and annoying customer experience.

    I hate the periodical format for a number of reasons. I prefer the hardcover or paperback collected edition. I originally stopped buying comics back in 1990. One of the big reasons that I started buying them again in the late-1990s was because of the rise of the collected edition. It’s a format that I really like and prefer. That said, there are still some stories which have not been collected and which, if I want them, I have to buy in periodical format. More and more comic book shops no longer carry a back issue selection. But the ones that do sell 90% of them at a higher price than the suggested retail cover price, often significantly higher. That’s annoying. If you’re going to specialize in back issues and sell them at a mark-up, then position yourself as a used book store or antique store. But if you’re going to sell new stock at cover price, too, than sell your back issues at cover price as well.

    And this doesn’t just apply to back issues either. There is a comic book store near me that, whenever a variant cover of a new issue comes in, they sell it on the day of release at five- to six-times cover price. I realize that whoever buys the variant cover is going to likely going to turn around and sell it on eBay for a huge profit if they are able to buy it initially at cover price. But so what? I don’t care about variant covers, so I’m not going to buy one. But when the retailer marks up the price of new stock at five- and six-times cover price on the day it’s released, the message that that sends to the customer is that you are trying to gouge me on price. And you know what? I don’t like that.

    If you’re going to specialize in new product, then sell everything in your store at cover price or less. That’s the expectation that the customer has at every other retail experience they have, be it in a traditional book store, a clothing store, a grocery store, or a car dealership.

    5. Stock:

    What people don’t seem to realize is that price isn’t everything to people like me who shop mostly online. Availability is. When I go to a comic book shop, I’m going there looking for something specific. If the shop doesn’t have what I’m looking for then I’ll look for something else. If I still can’t find anything that I like and I walk out of the store empty-handed, then I get annoyed for having wasted a trip.

    I’ve already mentioned Big Planet Comics in Washington, DC. I know with absolute certainty that every time I go there I will walk out with several books, whether it’s the specific book I went there looking for or not. It’s not that they have the biggest selection. They don’t. It’s that they constantly refresh their stock. And not just with newly released product, but with older books, too (and which they still sell for cover price).

    Having a lot of stuff doesn’t impress me if it’s always the same stock every time I walk into the store. There’s one store in the Baltimore area that has a huge selection, but unlike Big Planet, most of the time that I walk into this store I never find what I’m looking for and I never find any unexpected gems. It’s always the same stuff. If comic book shops are tired of being undercut on price by Amazon and eBay, why not take advantage of what they offer and buy some older stuff at cheap prices? If you can buy it for less than cover price then that means you can then sell it at cover price and still make a profit. Go beyond Diamond and the traditional distribution routes. Go the extra mile and surprise your customer base with stuff they didn’t expect to find.

    6. Special ordering something for your customer isn’t a selling point:

    This goes back to my previous point. If I’m looking for something specific and a comic book shop doesn’t have it, telling me that you can special order it for me doesn’t impress me. If a comic book shop special orders it for me, that means that I have to make a special trip back to the store to get it. If I’ve gone out of my way to go to your store and you don’t have what I’m looking for in stock, you’ve lost that sale to Amazon or eBay (who can deliver it directly to my front door).

    Similarly, don’t expect me to pick out the stuff that I want to buy three or four months before it will be released. The “Previews” ordering system is not customer friendly. I want what I want when I want it. If you’re going to make me special order something three months before it comes out, accept the fact that what I wanted three months ago may not be what I want three months later. Most purchases are impulse buys. If I have to special order it from you in advance (because it won’t be on your shelves otherwise), don’t guilt trip me when it comes in and I no longer want it.

    And in regards to “Previews,” what other industry expects their customers to actually pay for their product catalog? Seriously. If you want people to order in advance and the only way to know what’s coming out in advance is through the “Previews” catalog, then give me a copy, don’t sell it to me. And don’t expect me to read through it in the store. It’s a thick catalog and I’m not going to spend an hour or more in a store looking through it.

    7. If you’re going to sell book series, have the early volumes:

    I’ve been thinking about reading the “Lone Wolf and Cub” series. The last four comic book shops that I went to sold the series but they were all missing the first three volumes. If I can’t read a series from the beginning, don’t expect me to buy volume 7. If the publisher or your distributor can’t get you the books, then go on Amazon or eBay and buy a cheap copy for your store. Even if you have to pay over cover price, buy it there and sell to me at cover price and take the loss. Because if you’ve got fourteen volumes of the series but not the first volume, well I’m not buying the rest from you until I can buy volume one. And those other fourteen volumes are not likely to move off your shelf otherwise.

    8. Make your store user-friendly:

    If you sell back issues, don’t tape them shut inside of a mylar bag. If one of the selling points of a comic book shop is that I can see it before I buy it, don’t make it difficult for me to look at it. If I have to ask for assistance to open a bag every time I’m interested in a back issue, that’s annoying. Rather than ask for assistance I’m more likely to just not even look at it and not buy it at all.

    9. Don’t complain about my method of payment:

    Much has been made about retailers not liking credit cards (or especially rewards credit cards) because of the extra costs involved for them in accepting them. To that I say: so what? The retailer is trying to maximize his financial advantage, and I as a customer am trying to maximize mine. If the expectation is that a customer should think twice before using a certain method of payment, the message that retailer is sending is that I as a customer am expected to subsidize that retailer by using a payment method that is not to my financial advantage. Whether that was the intent or not, that is the message being sent.

    If a retailer is going to complain about credit cards cutting into his bottom line, than offer me a financial advantage for not using one. Pass the savings along to me. Otherwise, I really don’t care about your costs associated with doing business.

    10. Be willing to evolve:

    The comic book industry is the most conservative industry I’ve ever seen. It’s that way at all levels: the publishers, the retailers, and the customers. They all hate change. I’m sorry to break it to you, but the world IS changing whether you like it or not, so change with it or don’t complain when I no longer shop at your store.

    There’s a reason that record stores are mostly extinct now. It’s because they didn’t evolve:

    — Their product was expensive

    — For years and years and years they wouldn’t allow you to listen before buying

    — They stopped selling singles even when the customers wanted that

    — They weren’t keeping up with technology and selling in a format (mp3) that the customer wanted

    In other words, the customer was making clear what they liked and did not like about the record store experience but the retailers and publishers did not listen because the then-existing business model had been extremely profitable to them so there was no immediate incentive to.

    Then came Apple.

    Apple’s iTunes store did address all those customer concerns and that’s why they’re the number one music seller today. They saw what customers wanted and gave it to them in a convenient way and at a fair price.

    I hate periodicals (aka “floppies”). I don’t like the flimsy format which damages easily. I don’t like the ads throughout the book which upset the flow of the story. I don’t like that the story isn’t complete and self-contained. I don’t like storing them. I don’t like that they don’t come out on time.

    (And I don’t blame the artists on this last point. When I buy a comic book I buy it BECAUSE OF the artist. I’m not going to buy a comic done by a fill-in artist (which is why I refuse to buy those otherwise beautiful “Nexus” hardcovers that Dark Horse is putting out–because First Comics (the original publisher) was so short-sighted at the time and more interested in meeting a monthly delivery schedule whether the artist Steve Rude (the only reason I was buying the book in the first place) could keep up or not).

    I know that comic book shops love periodicals because it keeps their customers coming back every week. But more and more people (like me) don’t like periodicals, so if you’re business model is built upon people buying something they don’t want, then you’re business model is flawed. In no other industry that I know (except maybe groceries) am I expected by the retailer to come in every week to buy their product. I hate to break it to comic book store owners, but I have a life outside of comics. As much as I may like you and your shop and your product, I don’t want to be there 52 times a year. Once every month or two or three is fine with me. If that changing customer behavior is going to negatively affect your business model, then you need to evolve your business model.

    Comic book shops have to go the extra mile to figure out what their customers want now and then anticipate what they want tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don’t see this happening (Big Planet Comics, Atomic Books, and select other shops across the country excepted).

    Most comic book shop owners got into the field because they loved comic books and they want to preserve their shops as their own personal ideal. Even if that goes against what their customers want.

    This isn’t every comic book shop. But it is the majority of the ones that I’ve been to (and again, I’ve been to plenty around the country). If retailers have certain expectations of their customers, they should be aware that customers (and (more importantly) potential customers) have an expectation of them.

    These aren’t outrageous expectations. These expectations are met by 95% of the retail establishments that I frequent, yet they’re only met by maybe 10% or 20% of the comic book shops that I go to. Something’s wrong. And by posting rules of etiquette for your customers, it tells me that comic book shops still don’t get it.

  28. Jennifer Hachigian Says:

    @Steely Dan — [to comic shops] …do yourselves a favor and hire an interior designer.

    …Why not hire a graphic designer to design signage and ads specifically for your store?

    …Don’t complain about my method of payment…

    Plastic methods of payment hamper a comic shop’s ability to spend money on other things.

    If a customer buys $1.50 worth of comics out of the clearance bin with a card, the comic shop loses about 25% of the transaction to fees.

    If the customer buys $7.00 worth of current issues with a card, the comic shop loses about 6% to fees.

    Source: http://truecostofcredit.com/601120

    The thousands of dollars that comic shops lose to interchange fees every year *could* be spent on better signage, stock, pricing, and design.

    That said, you’re doing more to support the physical comic shop industry right now than me, because you still visit physical comic book shops on a regular basis. Even if they are losing part of your payments to interchange fees, they’re still receiving money from you.

    For me, the problem isn’t cost or convenience or rude customers — it’s space. I don’t have much room in my apartment to store physical comic books and trade paperbacks. I’m looking into an iPad right now solely for the purpose of comics reading through apps like Comixology.

  29. Steely Dan Says:

    “The thousands of dollars that comic shops lose to interchange fees every year *could* be spent on better signage, stock, pricing, and design.”

    —–

    That’s a valid point to an extent. But it still puts the burden back on the customer to take a financial hit (by not using a rewards credit card, for instance) to subsidize a business.

    Instead of nickel-and-diming customers by complaining about the cost of interchange fees, retailers should be thinking more creatively about ways to grow their business by bringing in more customers. If they bring in more customers, their bottom line grows and the interchange fees can be seen by retailers as just another cost of doing business (which is what they are).

    Instead, what I see at most comic book shops are retailers who are catering to their existing customer base at the expense of new customers (even as their existing customer base continues to dwindle). And that makes them vulnerable to fluctuations in the market (like when people cut back on purchases because of a recession).

    I’ve introduced the comic book medium to dozens of friends who have gone on to like it and purchase books on their own (mostly through Amazon). But not one of them will set foot in a comic book store because of how customer unfriendly most of them are.

    People love the medium. They hate the stores. Stores need to evolve.

    (Again, there are exceptions to this, but my experience is that the vast majority of comic book shops are like this)

  30. Johanna Says:

    A Canadian retailer disagrees with Brian here: http://comicstheblog.com/?p=1744

    I think a lot of this disagreement is coming down to what tone you perceive the original post as having. I didn’t see it as particularly unfriendly to customers, but I know others felt differently.

  31. ann Says:

    Several years ago the natural food co-op in my town sent a letter to members and posted one in their store that completely outlined the cost to the store when people charged their groceries. I was astonished. They basically said they would have to raise prices in order to keep paying the credit card fees as more and more people wanted to pay with credit instead of cash or check.

    I made a point of paying in cash in that store. When my friends opened a small craft store, I got another insider view of just how crushing these fees can be to a small business. In New Jersey, many gas stations have two prices, one for cash and one for credit.

  32. Ned Stacey Says:

    At Cosmic Cat Comics in Tallahassee, our view is that whatever card the customer wishes to use is fine with us. It is just the cost of doing business. Sure one guy buys $2 worth, but another buys $100. It all balances out in the end.
    I can understand their point though, since everyone in the comic business is a little worried these days. None of us our rolling in dollar bills at the end of the night.




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