One of the reasons I started writing this blog about Pegasus Books, is that several years ago, I got caught up about reading the rise and fall of a new comic store called Riot Comics.
I knew from the first entries that the guy was going about it all wrong, but I was fascinated by his bullheadedness. It was a disaster waiting to happen. Generally, it's not all that difficult to get a strong sense of whether a store is going to make it or not make it.
Talking about it on a blog just makes it all that much clearer. (There's a lesson there, I suppose....)
He was very disdainful of all the other comic shops, which is common enough among fans. But of course, these shops have been existing in the real retail world and it seems foolish to dismiss everything they are doing.
The guy had a vision, to be sure, and he was entertaining and candid in his lead up to the store. He designed a very nice looking store.
And then fizzled.
Because he went about it all wrong.
In fact, the most fascinating aspect of all was watching him change his mind about each of the things he had made fun of about other stores. He brought in back issues. He had to buy some more functional fixtures. He found that having an "anime" club didn't do a thing for his anime sales. And so on.
He forgot he was a store, and not a 'model.' He forgot he needed lots of inventory. He narrowed his focus to such an extent there was simply no way he was going to make money.
He come into retail as a purist with a vision, and left disillusioned that people liked the look of his store, but didn't buy anything.
He seemed to spend most of his time designing business cards, and logo's, and signs, and t-shirts. Describing the colorful Ikea furniture, and showing off the 'art' on his walls.
But nuts and bolts, you need inventory and lots of it. Design doesn't pay the rent.
Anyway, I've found two new blogs about start-ups, and they seem equally misguided and bullheaded.
One is called Rocketbomber. He's gained some notoriety for writing about his book customers in a mocking way. But he's entertaining to read. He certainly has put a lot of thought into his store.
But his 'vision' is fundamentally flawed. The 'vision' of a Graphic Novel store. No comics, no back issues, no toys, no cards, no books even, except as they tangentially relate to graphic novels.
The question is -- why would you cut off all possible revenue streams but one?
I started with comics -- and it wasn't enough.
I added sports cards -- and it wasn't enough.
I added games -- and it wasn't enough.
I added card games -- and it wasn't enough.
I added toys -- and it wasn't enough.
I added graphic novels -- and it wasn't enough.
I added used books -- and it wasn't enough.
I added anime and manga -- and it wasn't enough.
I added new books -- and.......well, I can't add anymore. I've at my wit's end in space, time, energy and money.
In the midst of all this trying, I also handled Beanie Babies, and Pogs, and gave up any idea of being a 'purist.'
Pogs are about as widgety as it gets -- if I'm willing to sell Pogs, I'm willing to sell anything.
The other start-up is Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y. They got the go ahead on June 1 or so. A couple of days ago, they had a party in their still untouched store-space, for their friends and neighbors. Had a great time sipping wine and tasting cheese.
The architect's drawings were on the wall.
An architect? You hired an architect? It's an empty space! Slap a coat of paint, scrounge up some bookshelves, but some damn books and get rolling?
You sign a lease on June first and you're still staring off into space six weeks later?
No, they've 'designed' some bookshelves. Custom made bookshelves.....
Hey, if I'm an investor, I'd be looking to get my money out of this disaster. They are going to sink a ton of money into this store, and it will be a marvel to behold, and it will even generate a lot of sales at first.
But they will spend most of their career trying to dig themselves out of debt. And if they are as pie in the sky about their day to day operations as they are in their planning stage -- their career won't be long.
But they'll leave a beautiful corpse.
3 days ago