Tuesday, April 30, 2013

State of the Business, 1st Qrt. +

I'm hearing more and more reports of huge increases in comic sales across the country.  In fact, the increase in slow copies has been larger than the entire digital presence. Needless to say, this isn't happening with most mediums.

Comics have always been a funny business.  The things I first thought of as weaknesses -- the small market, the inability to break into the bigger world -- have turned out the be strengths.  The artwork and visual presentation of comics make them more ideal as a slow product, rather than a digital product.  So instead of comic shops being showrooms for digital, I think -- so far -- digital has been a showroom for comics.

The mechanics of comics have kept them a independent store phenomenon instead of being readily transferable to a national chain, the mass market, even to some extent the internet.  (Can't be sure this will continue, of course.)

So far, I'm not seeing the huge increases in sales, but this isn't unusual when it comes to national trends.  I often see a significant lag -- six months or a year -- before I start experiencing what everyone else experiences. 

I find the quality of material outside DC and Marvel to be reassuring.  Image especially seems to have it together.

As I've said,  I'm more interested this year in trying to increase the efficiency of the store, and increasing its margins, than I am in gross sales -- or increases in gross sales.  I'm constrained, as always, by the space I have.  If I want to create more room for a product, something else has to be consolidated.

I've managed not to incur any debt during the slow months, which is unusual, and have been able to -- mostly -- keep up the inventory.  Mostly, spot shortages as usual, but the overall stock has stayed high.

I have about two more weeks to go before I can open up the spigots for summer spending.  About 15 to 20% more than I've been doing this spring.  I'm going to assume that I'll start seeing some of those people on vacation who have pushing comics sales up elsewhere.  With any luck, they'll spur the locals to give comics a try again.

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