COMIC SHOPS OF THE PAST | Tangents
How to Pick a Local Comic Book Store
Going to your Local Comic Shop (LCS) should always be something you look forward to, not something that's a pain in the neck or a shot in the dark. You want consistency, a pleasant experience. But let's face it - some comic shops are few are far between, and you may feel "stuck" with whatever is nearby. Still, choosing a shop is a little more personal than deciding where to buy your groceries, even though most of the merchandise will be the same, from place to place. Whether you have a lot or not much to choose from, here are some tips to help you decide.
Look for quality service you can count on week after week.It may take a little while to honestly appraise each store, but you will know what's right for you in a very few visits. Are you greeted and/or helped - or left alone, as may be your wish, to browse? If you have a reserve box or a pull list on file, are all your books available when they come out, or does your shop often sell them out from under you and make you wait? Do they miss your books often? It can take a week or two to iron out kinks because you're new, but after that, things should straighten out and you should be able to relax and breathe easy, knowing your books are being held for you.
Look for the atmosphere you enjoy.Is the decoration of the store bright and welcoming? Clean? Well-organized? Or do you prefer a darker design, something with a bit more of a garage-sale feel? Or do you just like the whole Android's Dungeon & Baseball Cards vibe, where the sales clerk/owner is kind of a jerk, but knowseverything? To each his own! Everyone is different. If you really love digging through bins of back issues, try to find a store that has some. After awhile, the staff should know you - do you get an opportunity to chat with some of them about what you're reading, what they're reading, news of the hobby, etc.? To some people, a visit to the LCS each week is a chance to meet and talk with others involved in comics. If the culture of this store is more of a "silent treatment", find another, where you will be welcomed and where someone can often take the time to chat, even if they work as you talk.
Find out if the store is "kid-friendly." If you have a family, you will want to make comics something you enjoy together. Some shops reach out to kids, while others are decidedly UN-friendly to children. This is one of those times when a little more driving time could be indicated - if your closest local shop is decorated in black, with flaming, naked women on all the posters adorning the walls, if the owner and staff are often regaling customers with off-color jokes or stories, then you might need to consider a different store. All stores are different, each has its own culture, but some are actually actively reaching out to kids - they're the next generation of comic book fans!
Watch the way your money and security are handled.Many stores that offer a pull box also ask you to either pay into an account (this is a pre-paid account) or leave a credit card number on file. This allows the store to order your books (most stores must pay for your books the day they are received) and hold them for you until you can get there to pick them up. Sometimes after a specified amount of time has elapsed, the store will charge your card for the items you ordered, even if you can't make it in to pick them up by that day. That's fine - you don't want to miss titles just because you got busy, and that's what a pull box is all about. But you do want to be certain that your money is handled responsibly. An occasional mishap is to be expected - everyone is human. But if you find that you're often trying to straighten out wrong charges or your money goes missing more than once or twice in a year (or more), you might want to look into another store.
Look for value.All stores are different. Some stores offer a discount in exchange for a yearly fee. Some offer a free copy of Previews, or the reserve box mentioned. Some don't discount at all. The reality is, it's not so much about the price you pay for your comics as it is about the overall value you get for your money. If it's important to you to visit a clean, organized, friendly shop where you can come in and hang out and chat awhile, then maybe if that shop doesn't offer a discount, pennies are not so important to you. You get other perks for patronizing that store. Or maybe it's all about the bottom line for you - if you don't care about clean, organized space, or about friendly staff or fellow enthusiasts, maybe you just want to find a dealer online - these typically offer the deepest discounts. However, dealing online and through the mail, if you get a damaged copy, you're stuck - you have to return it and pay shipping again, and then again when they ship the replacement - ugh. If you find a bad copy of something from your local shop, you can just handle it with them.
Ask about their .Most shops offer credit only. Some will allow cash refunds. Maybe you'll never need it . But if you find yourself returning items often, it will be important to be aware of your LCS's return policy and be sure you can live with it.
Decide if it's a "good fit." After you've taken a couple of weeks to introduce yourself, sample the service and , and just come in a few times, you'll have a feeling as to the "rightness of the fit." Maybe there's a store a few miles further away, but is a better fit for you. There's no harm in spending the extra couple bucks on gas if you find that you're much happier or more comfortable at a shop that isn't the closest to where you live. This is your hobby, and comics come weekly. If you're uncomfortable once a week while you're trying to enjoy your hobby, it's not a good fit. Whatever you decided, remember that this is what you do for fun and enjoyment, and be sure that you're having fun and enjoying yourself!
||This video shows some of the things that customers love about a good local comic book store.|
- One of the best resources for finding a Local Comic Shop in the United States and Canada is the Comic Shop Locator Service - visit or call 1-888-COMICBOOK to find shops in your area.
- You can also check out the CSLS's younger sibling: KidsComics - check out to find shops that reach out to younger readers!
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