Saturday, December 1, 2007

There's been an interesting development over on my comic retailers forum. A year or two ago, there was a big discussion about how there weren't enough comic shops. Most of the big city comic shops felt the industry needed more shops; my contention, (not that anyone listened, I'm pretty small beans in the retailer world), was there was exactly as many comic shops as the customers were willing to support.

As part of that discussion, minimal population figures for supporting comic shops was bandied around. Anywhere from roughly 50k to 250k. One could probably do a multiplier of whatever number you come up with for things like, an interstate highway, a college, a military base, and most importantly, surrounding population.

Bend would seem like a perfect laboritory for this. We have 200k in the tri-county, but then no major population for over 100 miles in any direction. We have none of the multipliers.

And the answer is, I do about 65% the average comic shop. Even if the demographics are wonky, and even if I'm doing a lousy job -- and I don't think I am -- it would seem to prove to me, at least, that 200k isn't enough. I make up for it by carrying other product lines.

Assuming the average comic shop is the definition of healthy, my own estimate is that a store needs closer to 350k to be healthy, if there aren't any other multipliers.

This estimate was pretty much dismissed by the other retailers, if it was noticed at all.

The biggest proponent of the idea that there aren't enough comic shops, has just posted a message that four stores have opened near him and it's way too many.

Capitalism is messy. Sure, if you could select the area's that 'need' comic shops, and support their insertion, that would be great. What really happens -- and it seems to happen over and over again -- is that shops open where there are already shops, weakening everyone.

So -- yeah, more comic shops, just as long as they're not in MY back yard.

I'm not making fun of this retailer. He's a smart guy, who has done great things for the industry, I just think that his call for 'more' shops was misguided, and it's interesting to me, at least, karma, that he is suffering the consequences.

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