How Opening a Comic Store Has Changed Over Time

Earlier this year, Brian Hibbs, owner of San Francisco’s Comix Experience, wrote a column about acquiring a second store. It’s got lots of great business information, as do his other columns about being a comic retailer, but what struck me most was this end paragraph:

I opened my first store for $10k and a comic book collection, but those days are decades gone. It took me 24 years to get to store #2 because the barriers to open have gotten so high. We should keep lowering them, while encouraging a high standard of professionalism and stock.

Many retailers now, still hanging on, opened in a very different time. We have as many comic stores as we do because lots of people could do that then — their comic collections, in an age where back issues were how you read comic history, were valuable, enough so that you could turn them into a business. You can’t now. You need investment money, and a lot more of it.

Earlier in the piece (which you should read all of), Hibbs provides an estimate of needing $100,000 these days to open a new store properly, before talking about how more support is needed for new retailers. I think these changes indicate a lot about why, sometimes, the comic industry can be tough to change or convince of modern attitudes. The people making business decisions came from a different era, and the new blood has it harder to get in. We knew that was true in, for example, comic art and publishing, but it’s also true in retailing.

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